“I love warrior two!” I think to myself. I feel empowered, full of grounding energy, and, at the same time, an effortless lightness. But then I open my eyes, and when I see my butt and the size of my thighs in the studio mirrors, I just want to walk off my mat and shun any mirror in my path.
Maybe you've experienced this too? You're in a yoga class, you feel strong, beautiful, united. You feel good. But then you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror, and that beautiful image that you've created comes toppling down from the sky like rotten apples in the fall. Why is this? How is it that a simple reflection can break apart all the love and positivity that we feel in our bodies?
You're in a yoga class, you feel strong, beautiful, united. You feel good. But then you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror.
Maybe what we think we see in the mirror is not so much a reflection of what we look like, but a reflection of how we view ourselves. And that right there tells us that we need to wake up every day and say: “I love you, self. I'm sorry for the times that I've mistreated and disliked you. I give myself permission to forgive myself and love myself the way I am.”
Yoga has done many wonderful things for me. It has been a key component to my journey to health and wholeness after struggling with bulimia for ten years. But I wonder: Are there times when yoga can be detrimental to my healing? When I bring judgment and comparison into my practice?
Personally, I've found that when I am looking at myself in a mirror or watching myself on video, my focus easily shifts to critiquing the way I look. And I forget to pay attention to or remember how yoga makes me feel. When I'm staring at myself in the mirror during class, I'm not at all present in my body. I'm no longer paying attention to the little movements, subtle energies, or pulses of happiness that I receive from my practice. Instead, I'm worried about the roll in my middle back or the width of my thighs. Or I'm looking at other students' bodies with envy. I have completely lost the meaning and point of practicing yoga. And I don't think I'm alone here.
So what's the solution? For me, it's been to repeat the mantra I mentioned above every day. And also to remove the mirrors from my practice—both physically and mentally.
For the billions of years of this universe’s existence, and for all time and eternity, there will only be one you.
If you're able to practice yoga without a mirror, do so. If not, just try closing your eyes to help you move inward. Feel deeply. Breathe. Really bring yourself into your body and experience everything. Try to stop making a mirror image of yourself compared to those next to you. Sometimes we look to other people and we wish we could be them. But, of course, no matter how hard we try, none of us can become another person. But what would happen if you flipped that wish around? If you affirmed that no one else will ever be you? That you are incredibly precious. That for the billions of years of this universe’s existence, and for all time and eternity, there will only be one you.
How incredible is that? It's something that I need to remind myself of every day. And it's hard. It's a journey. But now, when I aim to “be my best,” I'm not aspiring to be somebody else. Instead, I'm just trying to be truly and authentically me. And when I do spot my reflection in the mirror, I say “Yes, I see what you're showing me. That I have a bigger backside, thighs, boobs, whatever. But they are mine! And I feel amazing. Full of life and joy. And I will not let anyone or anything take that away from me.”