Students of yoga benefit from a teacher’s eyes upon them. Teachers don’t usually see their students naked (just skate over that statement please) and seasoned teachers don’t need to but you can learn volumes observing your naked body in front of a mirror.
Before I knew I my hip had become arthritic and before I had herniated a disc doing a backbend with a secretly too stuck hip and before I had torn the rotator cuff opposite the stuck hip pulling vines, I watched my body shift and ignored it. I wasn’t in pain. My image was just less symmetrical. When did that happen? I chose to ignore it as I am a steadfast practitioner of denial.
A massage therapist noted my ribs shifted right and hips shifted left. A chiropractor’s x-ray revealed a compromised sacrum but it didn’t feel like much until I just misused myself up. Pain forced me to take action.
Naked in front of the mirror I stood in Tadasana. My front line veered right. The inseam of my right inner thigh rose several inches longer than the left. My right hip was higher, my right waist shorter. My right foot turned out and dropped in the interior arch. My right collar bone was shorter.
Tree pose, Extended Angle, Warrior I and II shined light. I added a rearview mirror to see my lumbar spine snake right before it disappeared in Ardha Uttanasana. (Half forward fold.) I was turned and twisted.
I stood at ease to view the habits of my form and reintegrated my structure from the ground up. I added props and revisited my rope wall in a new way. I watched the movement of breath and stirred it into the refinements.
I did this in basic standing poses and it took about a year to see my form make subtle shifts. I was doing yoga, physical therapy, roller work, toning and some biking all with my imbalances in mind as well.
Once you see your form in the mirror it’s necessary to repeat your poses without the mirror as the eyes can dominate your experience. You want impressions to be integrated in a kinesthetic way not just a visual way.
I leave you with this last exercise for the mirror. When you are done with your practice stand nose to nose with your mirrored self and take a long look into your own eyes. Your self will likely say something silently to your reflection. Take stock and then leave your reflection with a kind word of encouragement. She will appreciate that. You will feel the love.