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There seems to be a trend in yoga studios now:  a lack of mirrors.

In the early 2000s, when I first started practicing yoga, every studio I went to had a wall of mirrors.

Oh no...look at these poor shlubs practicing yoga in front of a mirror!

Oh no…look at these poor shlubs practicing yoga in front of a mirror!

 

Nobody seemed bothered by this and only one studio, out of many, had curtains that instructors could draw across the mirrors if they wanted to.

But when I was in Vegas this past weekend, the yoga studio at the hotel had mirrors—on every wall.   At first I felt like those “how I think I look pictures” (see below) and my dream, my idealized vision of myself, was shattered.

This is why I don't run anymore.

This is why I don’t run anymore.

But once I got over the initial shock of seeing myself in some unflattering poses—why does my face look so weird when I am upside down in a forward fold and WOW my butt looks huge in Warrior 2 – I embraced the mirrors.

I found that the mirrors actually helped challenge me to move further into various asanas or yoga poses, like during Warrior 2 where I wasn’t bending my front knee as deeply as I had thought.

By observing, without judgment, how I looked practicing yoga, I was able to get a clearer sense of what my body was actually doing compared to what I thought it was doing.  Plus the mirrors gave me a little motivation to work on some parts of my body that I’ve been ignoring (hello booty!).

Curious to see what others thought of mirrors in yoga studios, I did a quick internet search and the results will shock you! (Well, maybe not, but they are amusing.)

1. “We don’t have mirrors in our studios because we want people to focus on their internal vision of themselves, freeing them to be their authentic self.” 

Who knew that getting rid of a mirror was all it took was for us to find our authentic selves?

2. “Mirrors can introduce doubts in your mind about whether you’re doing the practice “correctly” or if the person on the next mat is “correct.” And mirrors can introduce self-judgment about your abilities compared to the other people in the class.

Let’s be honest, with or without mirrors, we are always comparing ourselves to others.  When I’m wearing a large tunic and long flowing pants and the 20-year-old woman in front of me is wearing booty shorts and a tiny sports bra, I don’t need a mirror to tell me that our bodies are very, very different!  Plus, when I have to “just lie on my back” or put my legs up the wall while everyone else moves into backbends, handstands, or headstands, it’s pretty hard not to judge my abilities even without that dreaded mirror.

3. “Yoga is about looking within yourself in search of personal transformation, health, and wellness. For this reason, most yoga studios don’t have mirrors.” 

Ah ha! The evil mirror thwarting our search for enlightenment!  Never mind our addictions to our cell phones and technology—be on guard against the great and powerful MIRROR!

4. “Anyone who knows anything about yoga knows that mirrors don’t belong in the studio. There are some straightforward reasons for this, namely; we practice yoga to go inside, to transcend the ego, and to find peace. Mirrors are roadblocks to all these pursuits, pulling us back to the shallow surface of ourselves as relentlessly as the moon pulls the sea.

Maybe I was being shallow as I gazed at myself in the mirror, admiring my tattoos, my ample bosom, my tan…wait, what were we talking about?

5. “We have no mirrors in our yoga spaces so don’t worry about what you look like.

Uhhh…I will probably still worry about what I look like even without mirrors, which is why I wear yoga pants and not shorts.  Seeing how cellulite-y my legs look in downward facing dog is not pretty my friends.

 

Do we really think that without mirrors people will be more likely to “go inside” and use yoga as a technique to encourage total transformation?

Isn’t the purpose to make your yoga practice more meaningful even in the face of external distractions?  I’m not saying that mirrors are the answer, but I’m also not ready to vilify them either.

Quick! Get that baby away from the mirror!

Quick! Get that baby away from the mirror!

What’s your opinion?  Do you think mirrors in a yoga studio are helpful or hurtful?

Please excuse all typos and terseness: I was busy looking at myself in a mirror.

 

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