What interests me, is the deeper issue behind all of this. One of my bikram yoga teachers always started the class by saying "Look yourself in the mirror. Recognize the teacher." My other teacher Baron Baptiste shouts in his trainings "See yogis, see!". What to look? What to see? What IS actually in the mirror?
One thing is certain - when we step into the yoga room, it is filled with mirrors. Whether they are actually hung on the wall or laid down on the floor disguised as yoga mats, there is no escaping.
You see, yogi, the world as we see it, is nothing more than our inner reflection projected back to us. It is our own view of things and how we see ourselves that stares back to us. Sometimes we like it, sometimes we cannot stand it. The tricky part is, that none of it is real. It's all one big, fat lie that we have created in our mind. What we see in the mirror or what our practice reveals to us, only shows us our lie. It can be wrapped into a beautiful package: "Oh, how amazing am I! Did you see how I could lift my legs up in Tripod? I am so much better than this girl next to me, I wonder if she saw me doing it! I am such a good yogi!" Or it can play devil on your shoulder saying things like: "I can't stand the way I look. I still can't even touch my toes and my thighs look fat. I am a failure. Why did I even bother coming here? That girl next to me did just a beautiful Tripod and I can't get my hands touching the mat. I can never be as good as she is." Ego lives in comparisons.
These two discussions seem very real for the individual - for as longs as we identify ourselves with them. But, what every spiritual seeker is yearning to see, is the reality of who we are.
In yoga we speak about Self-realization. It simply means seeing ourselves the right way, not identifying with the mind and it's ego based ideas, but seeing beyond that. Awakening to Self-realization is shifting perception from identifying with the mind/ego/persona/form = FEAR into our true being that is LOVE/Light/energy to give it a few names. The beauty of this is, that once we really get this, we understand that this is true for all of us. We are not separate from each other but in this together. In reality we are the same being. There is no comparison, no separation. No need to fight, since the only fight that's going on is against our twisted mind.
So mirrors aren't good or bad - they simply show us where we identify and they have a real purpose in that. To me asana practice, using my mat as a mirror, shows me what's going on in my mind and what's the latest in my ego's lies and tricks. I work hard to release myself from these ideas and one breathe at a time I let go of them. Layer by layer, asana by asana, breath by breath I slowly let go of what is not serving me. Asana is simplified to prana, breathe, moving the body - there is no comparison with my previous practice or with my fellow yogis. I see things as they are, not through my mind's colored and distorted perception.
This is an ongoing battle, one that I take on every day. In the yoga room it's quite apparent, outside it gets easily cluttered. I notice sinking back into my head, admitting defeat to my ego, loosing the ability and the beautiful gift of being present. But luckily I have my mirror to keep me on track. It doesn't lie. I lie. And then my heart softly whispers - it's not the real you. See, yogi, see. And looking closer, the lie disappears and for a moment my inner world and outer world are in perfect alignment. A glimpse of my true Self is revealed and it's beauty is beyond this realm.
So yogis, use the mirrors - they are seen in every conversation, in every asana, in every urge to be right, in every self-defeating or judging discussion that goes on in the head. Take a real close look what kind of distorting glasses you are wearing and just let them go. Practicing that, is practicing yoga, the union. Uniting the mind and the spirit, uniting one self with Self and through that with others. No need for comparisons, no need to be right. Simply Being is enough.
Love and Light