Updated May 01, 2017

If you’ve never taken a yoga class before, the numerous poses can be pretty intimidating. Downward facing dog, crow pose, cat and cow, wheel, warrior, the list goes on. And if your first experience is in an overflowing class, the instructor likely won’t have a chance to make sure you’re perfectly positioned in each posture.

Granted, yoga is all about going with what feels right for your body. But doing certain poses incorrectly can lead to muscle imbalances and possibly even injuries down the road. And it’s important to note that newbie yogis aren’t the only ones susceptible to mistakes. Even if you’ve been practicing yoga for years, there may be room for improvement.

In this video, yoga instructor Kirby Koo demonstrates four common yoga form mistakes, plus how to correct them.

No time to watch? Here are some quick fixes for each pose:

Downward facing dog

The problem: Hunched shoulders.

The fix: Draw shoulders away from ears, outwardly rotate arms.


The problem: “Bat wing” shoulder blades.

The fix: Draw shoulder blades apart, broaden through collar bones.

Upward facing dog

The problem: Head tipped too far back, crunching lower back.

The fix: Lower chin, draw shoulders away from ears, lift thighs off the ground.


The problem: Crunching back of neck, “bat wing” shoulder blades.

The fix: Draw shoulder blades apart, bring sternum forward.