Exercising in front of a mirror

If you have the room to hang a mirror in your exercise area, do so. Exercising in front of a mirror gives you the opportunity to make like a yoga-with-weights instructor and observe your workout so you know when you're making mistakes or doing exercises incorrectly. Apart from showing how beautiful or handsome you are, the mirror shows you when your body is aligned correctly during an exercise. Having the correct alignment is essential in yoga with weights, because the exercises rely on your balance to work different muscle groups and tax the core muscles in your trunk and torso.

Pay attention to whether your body is in proper alignment with the following tips in mind:

1 Posture: If you stand during an exercise, stand up straight and look straight ahead. Traditional yoga teaches that body energy moves through the spine. Make sure your spine is erect so your body is energized and open.

1 Shoulders: Don't shrug your shoulders; keep your breast bone gently lifted and your collarbones wide with your shoulders firmly on your back. Don't slouch or cave in. Except for the occasional exercise when we ask you to roll your shoulders forward, you should stay gently lifted in the chest and breathe evenly into your body.

Most people have one shoulder that's higher than the other. Correct this imbalance when you see it in the mirror by consciously breathing into your imbalanced side, as if you're inflating it. This gently unlocks your body and improves your posture.

^ Legs: In exercises in which we ask you to move one foot forward and the other foot back, make sure your legs are balanced and your body weight is equally distributed between both legs. Is one foot too far forward or too far back? You can tell with a glance in the mirror.

^ Knees: In squatlike poses where we ask you to bend your knees and sit in an imaginary chair, some people hardly bend their knees. Don't be afraid to bend them — the movement is good for you. If you have stiff knees, always warm up first (see Chapter 6) and focus on the balls of your feet being on the floor when you bend your knees — this gives you a solid base. Never force or lock your kneecaps back; using your thigh muscles above your knees, gently lift your knees upward and into your thigh bones to strengthen the knee area for greater support.

^ Feet: In most standing exercises, your feet are parallel to one another. Don't turn your feet out. When we ask you to place your feet below your hips or place them "hips' width apart," look to see if your feet are directly below your hips and if your stance isn't wider than your hips.

The only drawback of doing the exercises in front of the mirror is that you may miss the from-the-inside-out experience of yoga. Recognizing and feeling each breath, moment, and exercise from the inside out is what makes yoga with weights an empowering practice. If you gaze in the mirror and look at yourself only from the outside in, you miss an aspect of the exercises and never discover what yoga is really about.

In our classes, we occasionally notice students gazing with puppy love at their reflections in the mirror, and that's okay. Admiring yourself is allowed. Why not? It sometimes happens that someone who feels self-conscious and thinks he or she isn't beautiful discovers otherwise in the mirror. As long as you do the exercises and complete the workout, you're allowed to admire yourself. So strike that pose and then get over it so you can dive deep within yourself for the real rewards.

Use this book as a tool. Compare the exercise photos you see in this book to your reflection in the mirror to find out whether you're striking the right poses as you exercise.

Beginners Guide To Yoga

Beginners Guide To Yoga

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