The Mirror and Body Acceptance.
*Originally posted May 10, 2016
Day 20 of the Challenge and I’m back in London. I took the 4:30 class and set up in my favorite part of the room; by the podium in the front row. I like this part of the room because I’m less distracted there. I can here the teacher well and I can see every part of my body whether I want to or not. In Bikram Yoga you are instructed countless time to look forward in the mirror. Bikram sometimes calls it the “cosmic mirror”. It serves the very functional use of being able to see your body and correct your own alignment. The combination of feeling the posture in your body and actually seeing it on your body goes a long way in correcting form. But unless you come from a dance background, or are killing it in the selfies department, you’ve probably never spent 90 straight minutes staring at your own reflection. Especially a reflection that’s usually wearing little clothing and always sweating tons. There is no Turned-to-your-good-side-hand-on-hip-pouting-mouth-Instagram-ready Asana. I myself often look pink as a baby and when my short hair gets wet, it parts in the middle. Needless to say it’s not a good look.
I believe my own body image is fairly standard for a 30 year old woman in 2016. It’s average. Sometimes I look in the mirror; any mirror be it at home, on the street, or in class, and think “I am so hot. I should charge people to look at me.” Other times I look in the mirror and think, “Who the hell is this monster! How can someone own a Vitamix and have cellulite!” Both are fairly extreme ways to view my own body. I probably have cellulite because I’ve learned how to make ice cream in my Vitamix and because most women do. Let’s get over it. But when I’m practicing Bikram Yoga on a regular basis, my own perception of my body starts to even out. I stop bouncing between narcism and self-hatred. I am able to look in the mirror and see myself and just be fine with it.
I know a couple people who have tried Bikram Yoga who hated having to look in the mirror. I know other people who won’t try Bikram Yoga because they hate looking at themselves. I’m not sure if I blame them. Hate is a strong emotion and to have that bubbling in side you for 90 minutes straight would be exhausting. I think if you practice Yoga in front of a mirror on a regular basis you get too tired to have that emotion. It’s just not sustainable. And so you calm the fuck down. Much like a baby who cries them self to sleep. You can’t hate yourself that intensely for that amount of time.
I think positive affirmations are bullshit. I don’t look in the mirror and say to myself, “I am beautiful. I am flawless.” Unless you truly believe that about yourself (and if you do good for you) I think the part that doesn’t believe will scream bullshit and your no better off than where you started. So when I go into class and see my reflection in the mirror I simply shrug and think. “Ok. This is what I look like today. And clearly I can live with this because I do. So this is fine.” It’s not a celebration or a demonization it’s simply a statement that my current body is fine and maybe it will change maybe it won’t. It gives me comfort know that at the very least, I’m healthy enough to look in the mirror every day and practice yoga.
I’m not going to lie to you. I would like to lose a little weight. And I still would like my postures to be prettier. But coming in to the room and either beating myself up or exalting my own form on a daily basis is draining. I also think that in order to make a change in your life or body you have to accept that where your at in the moment is ok. So that’s basically it. I think “I’m ok.” as I bring my toes and heels together, interlock my fingers, place my knuckles under my chin, look forward in the mirror, and breath.