What Are You Looking At?

Top Ways To Use A Mirror To Improve Your Tai Chi And Self Esteem

Use a mirror to improve your Tai Chi and Self-Esteem
“How’s my cat stance?”
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When I started, I conducted my Tai Chi classes at a fitness center inside a room primarily used for Yoga. This room did not have any mirrors to use so we could check our alignment. When the fitness center closed due to their lease not being renewed, we went on a quest to find a new location to hold our classes.

We went to a local Yoga studio to see if we they had any room for us. When we went to look at the place, I noticed that there were no mirrors in either of their rooms. I asked about this and we were told that the owners purposefully didn’t put up mirrors because they felt it was counter productive and wasn’t good for their students self-esteem.

My jaw almost dropped!

Whether you’re a student of Tai Chi, Martial Arts, or Yoga, especially a new one, the mirror is the single best tool we can use in our practice. You see (pun intended), the mirror doesn’t lie. It can’t! It reflects back what we are doing. The interpretation of what we see is another story.

Sometimes we don’t want to see the truth, or maybe we don’t like what we see. To use the mirror effectively in our practice, we must learn to look at our image, but not judge. Correct our postures, but not admonish our errors.

Take A Look At Yourself

Here’s a little exercise for you: Stand in front of a mirror (a full length mirror is best). Set a timer for 1 minute. Now look at yourself in the mirror. Really look. Look at your face, your body, your eyes, your hands … just look.

Do not judge, do not comment, do not rate, do not compare … just look. When the timer goes off, look at yourself one more time, this time with the biggest broadest smile you can smile, and congratulate yourself for being who you are.

That may sound a little new age-y, but if we don’t accept what we look like, and who we are, how can we benefit from what the mirror shows us? To use a mirror properly, you need to get past the judgement and really see yourself. Then, and only then, can you use the mirror to help in your practice and affect real change in yourself.

5 Tips To Use A Mirror Effectively In Tai Chi

Here are 5 tips to use a mirror effectively:

  1. Make sure you can see your entire body, from the top of your head down to your feet. If you’re practicing a form, make sure you see all your extremities as you move.
  2. As you move through your form, there will be times where you’ll face away from the mirror. Don’t twist your head to try and see yourself. Instead, start your form facing the mirror at different angles. This allows you to see your body as you move through different angles of your form.
  3. Practice your stances or individual postures out of your form. Checking the alignment of your spine, position of your feet, knees, shoulders, hands and head.
  4. When your posture is perfectly aligned, remember how it feels to be in that position. Once you internalize the posture, then you can execute that posture without aid of the mirror.
  5. Be critical of your body alignment. Any misalignment in your posture can cause uncertainty in your form, such as wobbly stepping, stepping hard, or a general uneasy feeling in the form. Repetitive misalignment could also cause injury.

An Instructor can show you how to correctly align the body, but they can’t do it for you. Using a mirror effectively will give you constant feedback as to whether or not your body is properly aligned. Making the adjustments as an error is detected, will lead to deeper understanding of the form and postures and to faster and deeper health benefits that Tai Chi can provide.

As you become accustomed to using the mirror, you get used to seeing yourself. And well you should, that is your best friend that you’re looking at! Your preconceived notions of how you think you look fade away and you begin to see yourself as you truly are.

As your training progresses, something interesting happens. You begin to see the changes in yourself, you see how you’re improving. It’s one thing to have someone tell you about your improvements, but it’s quite another for you to witness it for yourself. Possibly for the first time, you actually see yourself be a success!

How’s that for a boost in your self-esteem!

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