With so many different styles of yoga popping up all over the place, we’re starting to see more studios with mirrors.
Especially now that yoga is being taught at fitness clubs, dance studios and community centers, it’s now common to practice with our reflections.
But are mirrors a good or bad thing? Well, like so many other things, it depends who you ask. Let’s take a look at a few of the pros and cons of practicing with mirrors, and we’ll let you decide for yourself.
Mirrors do provide some benefits. If, for example, you are a visual learner, practicing at a studio with mirrors might help you understand the alignment of each asana (pose) better.
When the teacher says to shift your hips so they’re parallel to the top of the mat, you can actually see your hips shift in the mirror.
The same goes for finding the right alignment on your own. When there are mirrors everywhere, it’s easier to see that your shoulders are constantly up by your ears or you’re sticking your buttocks out in standing poses, etc.
Mirrors are also a benefit anytime the instructor is demonstrating a specific pose.
Students are better able to see the teacher from different angles giving them a clearer idea of the alignment of the pose and placement for different parts of the body.
For instructors, mirrors can be a helpful way to see the entire class. They also make it easier to notice if anyone is struggling, which creates more opportunities for giving adjustments.
Many people prefer practicing yoga with mirrors because they’re better able to make adjustments in their practice. Especially for people who are visual learners, mirror can have many benefits in growing and strengthening one’s yoga practice.
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While mirrors can definitely help with alignment, there is more to yoga than doing every pose perfectly.
Mirrors often provide a distraction for practitioners, especially when it comes to quieting our minds and finding stillness.
When we have a mirror in front of us, it’s easier to worry about the way we look in each pose than it is to check in with how we feel in it. Mirrors take us out of our body and place our attention on other distractions in the room.
We might catch ourselves glancing in the mirror in the middle of a sequence to make sure we look okay or are doing it ‘right,’ but that quick check launches us right out of the practice and into our heads.
Mirrors also aren’t helpful for those who already feel insecure in their practice. It’s just one more way for unsure yogis to compare themselves to everybody else.
Mirrors enable competition with other yogis throughout class, as it’s easier to keep an eye on what everybody else is doing.
Yoga is about being with the breath and moving in a way that creates stillness.
When we can see our every move, our focus becomes fragmented. There are many more distractions than we’re already dealing with—i.e. thoughts, worries, anxiety—that it becomes more difficult to concentrate on breathing.
Practicing with mirrors can limit our learning curve. We begin to depend on the reflection in the mirror to tell us whether we’re doing a pose correctly. But the “right” pose is based off how it feels rather than how it looks.
Practicing without a mirror forces us to learn alignment by knowing what it feels like to be in alignment. It takes the guesswork out of yoga because if we’re constantly relying on how we look, we never get to find out how it feels.
But then when the mirror is taken away, we get lost. It’s like starting at square one again, relearning the poses because we were never able to focus on the way our bodies felt in the pose in the first place.
Practicing with mirrors comes down to personal preference.
If you’re someone who learns by doing, rather than seeing, you’ll likely want to practice in a space free from mirrors. If you’re more visual, mirrors might be exactly what you need.
Don’t get caught up in what’s right and what’s wrong. If you’re unsure which kind of practice works for you, try both and then decide. And don’t worry what anybody else says about it.
Your yoga practice is yours and nobody else’s. Make it so.