The effect of mirrors on women's state body image responses to yoga


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Abstract

Objectives:Yoga is a promising strategy for promoting positive body image. However, certain physical environmental factors, such as mirrors, might undermine yoga's benefits. The present study examined the effect of mirrors on women's state body image and appearance comparisons during yoga.Design:Randomized experimental design.Method:Ninety-seven college-aged females were randomly assigned to a 60-min group yoga class in either a mirrored or non-mirrored setting. Surveys were completed prior to and immediately after class.Results:As hypothesized, the mirrored condition reported significantly higher state social physique anxiety and appearance comparisons after yoga than the non-mirrored condition. Mediator analysis indicated that within the mirrored condition, participants who engaged in more appearance comparisons reported higher state social physique anxiety than participants who engaged in fewer comparisons. There were no between-group differences on state body satisfaction and self-objectification.Conclusions:In the presence of mirrors, young women who reported engaging in more appearance comparisons during yoga reported higher social physique anxiety than women who engaged in fewer comparisons. Participants were perhaps using the mirrors as a tool for comparison, which assists learning yoga poses, but can also impact body image. Additional research examining the longer-term effects of regularly practicing yoga with mirrors is merited.HighlightsYoung women took part in a yoga class with either mirrors or no mirrors.Both conditions reported improved state body image after a yoga session.Social physique anxiety was higher in the mirrored than in the non-mirrored condition.Participants engaged in more appearance comparisons in the mirrored condition.Appearance comparisons mediated the effect of mirrors on social physique anxiety.

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