Q: Without a mirror, how can I tell if I'm doing a pose correctly?<br><em>—Beth G. Bell, Minneapolis</em>
Read Dharma Mittra's response:
A mirror can be useful, especially in standing poses, to check whether the parts of your body are really where you think they are. But I don't think a mirror is essential for learning to do the poses correctly.
If you have questions about whether you're doing a pose properly, go to an experienced yoga teacher and ask for feedback. Use what you're taught to establish a strong, internalized sense of the proper techniques and alignments. Concentrate in class on all the instructions you receive; notice how each action affects you and how it feels, and work to create the same sensations in your home practice. This will help you sense internally when you're on the right track and how to make your pose even more stable and comfortable.
Ultimately, your aim is to transcend a dependence on sources outside yourself, including mirrors and teachers. This takes time, so be patient. In Patanjali's Yoga Sutra, he notes that perfection requires determined and sustained practice. The more you listen to your own inner wisdom, the closer you'll come to perfecting your practice.
Founder and director of the Dharma Yoga Center in N.Y.C., Dharma Mittra has spent 45 years disseminating the wisdom of yoga. Known as a teacher's teacher, he is also renowned worldwide as the creator of the Master Yoga Chart of 908 Postures, which inspired Yoga Journal's coffee-table book of asana photographs, Yoga (Hugh Lauter Levin Associates Inc., 2002).