Some yoga studios have mirrors covering the walls, while others opt for a sparse environment without any mirrors. Even today, mirrors in yoga studios can be a divisive topic in the yoga community. Some people avoid entirely studios that have yoga mirrors, while others love practicing yoga in a room full of mirrors.
So, should yoga studios have mirrors? Having mirrors in a yoga studio depends on your budget and approach to teaching yoga. If you want students to be able to check their form, mirrors are helpful. But if you’d instead, they focus on the instructor and the task at hand without distractions – or if you can’t afford studio mirrors – it’s okay to go without them.
If you’re still unsure whether mirrors belong in your yoga studio, this article will discuss all of the pros and cons of having mirrors in a yoga studio. If you need help in making a decision, read on for some actionable advice.
Pros Of Having Mirrors in a Yoga Studio
Mirrors are a useful amenity to have if you teach yoga. Today, your students attend several fitness studios, gyms, and yoga studios. They are used to practicing in front of mirrors. In some cases, they even feel lost working out without a mirror in place.
So the argument that mirrors can be distracting in a yoga studio might not wholly hold true. Here are a few reasons why you should have mirrors in a yoga studio:
Mirrors In Yoga Studio Pro #1: Mirrors Help Students Check Their Form
Perhaps the most significant reason you should invest in mirrors is that they will make it easy for students to check their form.
Most students only learn poses by watching instructors and attempting to emulate them. However, unless there are mirrors in the studio, the student won’t be able to get any real-time feedback on how well they’re matching the form presented by the teacher.
If you have mirrors in your yoga studio, students will be able to check how well they’re doing without the teacher’s input and adjust their positioning accordingly.
Having mirrors is especially useful if you have rather large classes in your studio. In an ideal class scenario, the teacher will be able to check the form of each of their students and provide useful feedback on how to improve.
However, if there’s only one teacher and upwards of 20 students in a single class, checking the form of each student during each pose is nigh impossible. In these instances, it’s up to the student to self-police their posture, and mirrors can help substantially with this.
Mirrors In Yoga Studio Pro #2: Mirrors Look Professional
The appearance of your yoga studio is almost as important as the class content. Students and potential students will develop a subconscious opinion of your studio based on how it looks.
This aspect is especially true if you are in a big city where your members compare your studio to boutique fitness and yoga studios. And when you envision a professional fitness studio in your head, you probably see at least one wall with mirrors on it.
While this might be a minor benefit, having a few full-length mirrors in your studio will undoubtedly help to boost the appearance of professionalism. It can improve your clients’ perception of your brand and help persuade newcomers to sign up for lessons.
Mirrors In Yoga Studio Pro #3: Mirrors Cover The Walls
Unless you have an eye for design, decorating can be a bit of a nuisance. Getting your yoga studio decor right is of utmost importance. Therefore, adding mirrors to one of your walls can make it easier to bring your studio to a finished state.
Doing so, you’ll be able to save money on paint, wall decorations, or anything else you would place on the wall instead of the mirror.
However, professional studio mirrors will still cost more than most decorations you could put up, so it’s not like you’re saving money by installing them. The essential advantage is that you cannot go wrong with mirrors when it comes to decor.
Mirrors In Yoga Studio Pro #4: Mirrors Help Students See Progress
Nothing is better than seeing your own body do things that you didn’t think it could.
As such, having mirrors will allow your clients to see just how much they have improved from the last time they practiced. Observing progress can be a huge motivator and increase repeat attendance in your classes.
Cons Of Having Mirrors in Your Yoga Studio
Mirrors can be of great help when you want to align your movements. However, yoga is not about being perfect or doing everything exactly as you should. Because of this, some yoga practitioners and gurus believe that mirrors are not only unnecessary but are even the enemy of proper yoga practice.
On that note, here are the primary cons of having mirrors in your yoga studio.
Mirrors In Yoga Studio Con #1: Mirrors Can Be Distracting
While being able to check your form is helpful, mirrors can prove to be a big distraction for your students. Yoga is meditation too, and it’s about calming your mind down, finding that inner peace and alignment.
With a mirror, it’s so easy to start worrying about how you look and forget about how you feel. And unfortunately, that will happen to most of your students. No matter how much you encourage them to be present in their bodies, people will inevitably get lost in their own reflection.
Without mirrors, people don’t have anything to distract them. They can’t see themselves, and in most cases, they don’t have the opportunity to see others either, so there’s nothing to steal their focus.
You, as their instructor, should be their main guide through the asanas. When they listen to you, they don’t have the time or space to flood their minds with negative thoughts. All they have to do is focus on how they feel in each pose.
Mirrors In Yoga Studio Con #2: They Make It Easy To Compare Yourself To Others
Think about your average class — not everyone has the same level of experience in yoga. Some of your students are precise because they have a lot of experience with yoga. But, some of your students are still beginners, or they have limited mobility because of their physical condition.
With mirrors available, people can start judging each other — and more importantly, themselves. If some of your students are insecure about their lack of prowess or their physical appearance, they will compare themselves to others and feel bad because they are not at their level.
It creates an environment of competition, which is not right, especially because it leads to disappointment. Yoga, in essence, is about being one with your breath and moving in a way that focuses our energy. It’s not about comparing yourself to others, and that’s something that mirrors can encourage.
Mirrors In Yoga Studio Con #3: Yoga Is More About How It Feels Than How It Looks
One of the core reasons that mirrors may not be a good choice for a yoga studio is the fact that yoga is not just about what you do and how you do it, but rather how it feels.
With a mirror, we learn by how things look — even though we may not feel good in that position. Of all the exercise forms, yoga is the least about putting yourself through the pain. It’s about working with your body.
If your students learn with mirrors, they will be more likely to be lost without them because they will be less likely to know how the poses are supposed to feel. Without mirrors, your clients learn to perform yoga differently — they listen to their bodies and make peace with what they can and can’t do at the moment.
And as you adjust their poses, they will remember how they felt and use that as a guideline for the pose in the future. We are more likely to remember things by feeling rather than by seeing. This fact makes it easier to connect the body and mind and achieve the sense of serenity that yoga should create.
Mirrors In Yoga Studio Con #4: Mirrors Make Students Less Likely to Focus on The Instructor
As we stated before, mirrors can be distracting. And if your students are distracted by the mirrors, they aren’t observing the instructor.
The instructor should be the primary focus of the student, as they’re the expert who will be showing the students the proper form. If students are constantly checking out their own improper form, they’ll find it harder to achieve the proper positioning.
Mirrors In Yoga Studio Con #5: Mirrors are Expensive
The final reason you might want to avoid using mirrors in your yoga studio is that mirrors can get pretty costly.
Here is a guide on the cost of dance studio mirrors. The cost and type of mirrors you use in your yoga studio will be similar to that of dance studios.
For starters, you’ll need some large, high-quality activity mirrors. A single 36 x 72-inch mirror can cost upwards of $300, and you’ll need a few of them to cover one of your walls. Also, these mirrors are bulky and heavy, which means you might need to pay a professional contractor to help you install them. Considering all of these costs, you can easily find yourself paying well over $1000 to buy and install the mirrors.
So if you’re operating a yoga studio on a budget, it might be in your best interest to forego the mirrors and teach your classes without them.
How To Teach In A Yoga Studio Without Mirrors
If the cons mentioned in the previous section have you reconsidering buying mirrors for your yoga studio, I understand.
Fortunately, they are not necessary by any means. While there are benefits to using mirrors, yogis have practiced yoga for centuries without their help, and there’s no reason you and your students can’t follow in their footsteps. However, there are some things you need to remember when teaching yoga without mirrors.
Teach Students to Connect With Themselves
First of all, teach your students to connect with themselves. Teach them to listen to your cues and their bodies to perform properly. Talk to them — let them know that they need to pay attention to their posture and how small changes can make a big difference.
For instance, what if they ground themselves through their feet — will that make their posture stronger and more stable? Will something else? Show them how to try things out and find something that works for them. Small changes like this are not easy to spot in the mirror. However, they make a big difference.
Teach Students to Focus on Their Breath
Another thing that’s not easy to see in the mirror is breath, and it is one of the most important components of doing yoga properly. For example, forcing their bodies to do more than they are ready to can make the breath heavier. It’s a signal to stop and reduce stress.
On the flip side, breath becomes lighter and flows through your body when you stretch. It’s an indicator that can help your students learn yoga the right way, and it’s not in the mirror.
Show Students That It’s Okay to Fail
Practicing without mirrors also gives you a chance to show your students that it’s not about what the other people in the class can do. Two people cannot do the same position in the same way. We are all widely different.
Of course, feeling that connection with the rest of the group and uniting in the same practice is important, and one of the best parts of going to a group yoga class, but it’s also important to build your connection to self.
The fact is that most people come to your class to relax, let go of all negativity, and feel better. Allow them to do that. Create an environment people will be happy without competition and judgment.
How To Effectively Use Mirrors in Yoga Class
Mirrors can be an effective teaching tool, especially for beginners. In a more advanced class, you could just say the name of the asana, and most people will perform it without confusion. Naturally, you’ll still have to direct them on where to focus their energy and what to work on, but in most cases, they will know what to do.
On the other hand, if you say “Warrior II Pose” to a group of complete beginners, they will probably need a lot more help. First, they will mimic what you do, and only when they get the pose right will they be able to focus on themselves.
Due to this, mirrors can be convenient for beginners. It takes time and practice to get teaching with mirrors right, but once you achieve it, you’ll be able to help numerous beginners start their practice and fall in love with yoga.
One of the challenges of teaching yoga to beginners with a mirror is the fact that the sides are not the same in the mirror as they are on your side. Right isn’t right, left isn’t left, and it leads to confusion.
But, instead of struggling with sides, you should write “R” on your right hand and foot and “L” on your left hand and foot. It makes this simple when looking at the mirror, and your students will be able to tell what they need to do quickly.
There are generally two ways of showing poses to your class through a mirror. One is having the class mirror what you do while you do it. The other is you doing the position while they watch, and then have them do it. Both can be useful, depending on who you are teaching and the occasion.
How to Install Mirrors in Your Yoga Studio
If you’ve decided that mirrors are the way to go, you’ll need to figure out how you’re going to obtain and install them.
There are a variety of places that you can purchase activity mirrors. However, the easiest option is to buy them on Amazon. There are a variety of highly-rated activity mirrors of all different sizes ranging from $300 to $400.
Once you’ve got the mirror, you’ll need to install it. There are several ways to do this. A lot depends on the size of your wall, the material, and the size of the mirror.
I recommend watching this video to get an in-depth view of the typical installation process.
Whether you use mirrors in your class or not is essentially your choice. There are pros and cons to both, and in the end, it’s about what you think is best for your students.
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About the author
Naz Ahm is the founder of StudioGrowth and has spent a decade growing start-ups and venture-backed companies. He writes about sales, marketing, and growth, especially in the yoga, fitness and wellness industry.
Naz has an MBA from IESE Business School and started his journey in the wellness industry when he set-up an on-demand wellness business. Naz currently resides in London, U.K.