Read a yogini’s bio and you’ll likely find that she got physical in an aerobics studio in the ‘80s and ‘90s – if she was: a) alive then, or b) old enough to walk. Which brings me to the heart of this blog post: a mirrored yoga studio is a buzzkill, especially if you’re over forty.
In the ‘90s I was all about front row in aerobics studios. A recently retired synchro swimmer, I was in great shape, a seasoned performer, and unfazed by my reflection in the mirror. Fast forward twenty years, the last ten of which have included sporadic workouts (at best). I’m now getting into yoga after a few years’ absence, so I’m trying out the local yoga scene and I’ve decided on a studio, sans mirror. Here’s why:
Comparison Is The Thief Of Joy
Theodore Roosevelt’s popular quote, which has become an internet meme, applies on two levels here:
1) When I compare the appearance of my practice with that of my neighbor’s, I’m no longer in the moment. These are the moments I’m at greatest risk of sustaining an injury, because I’m no longer listening to my body. Rather, I’m projecting an ego-driven reality onto myself and my practice.
2) Comparing my ideal image of self with what’s reflected back at me also robs me of practicing yoga in the present, and it’s a buzzkill. Often I’ll be jiving with the flow of the class, feeling groovy and full of yoga-power, then I’m deflated by my image in the mirror. It doesn’t reflect what I feel – or what I looked like when I used to feel this great, bringing me here.
3) As the sticker in the image says, “Reflections in this mirror may be distorted by socially constructed ideas of beauty.” Why am I bummed out by what I’m seeing in the mirror these days? Because I see pictures of lean, mean sixty and twenty-year-old yoga machines and I feel my bod doesn’t measure up to either ideal. This deflates my spirit and sucks the enjoyment from my yoga practice.
Hmmm, sounds like you need an attitude adjustment!
Admittedly, these are my issues with mirrors in yoga studios, and, yes – I do need an attitude adjustment. But these things don’t happen overnight. So in the meantime,
4) The studio with no mirror is less distracting and healthier for me. Sure, there are yogis and yoginis around me who I catch myself noticing, but the absence of mirror helps me turn my focus inward, which enriches and deepens my practice; and
5) I’ve found a studio that dims the lights for yoga classes and this has made a world of difference for me. For the first time ever, I'm feeling a stronger, mental practice, which I believe is strengthening my yoga (and my body!)
It feels good, and it’s a real buzz.