Yesterday, I started teaching a new yoga class - all on my own, outside of the studio in Keene where I like to teach. It was this lovely little arts theater that's literally a five minute walk down the hill from my house.
The last time I was there, the upstairs space in this theater wasn't "finished", and they were using it as a room for art workshops. This time, it was apparent that the arts organization that owns the theater had made improvements and turned it into a dance studio, complete with bars along the walls, and - ugh - mirrors.
Right before I got pregnant with Colden, I did bellydance with a friend once a week, and it was great fun. And I really didn't mind looking in the mirrors. Usually, I was so focused on trying to make my body move the right way that what I saw in the mirror didn't bother me.
But then I was pregnant and had an 11 lb. 2 oz. baby and a c-section and my body just changed. Every inch of it, inside and out, was not the same as it was before. And we all know how easy it is to deal with change, right?
One of the things about yoga is that I love how it's all about the way you FEEL, and not so much about the way you look. I can't stand hot yoga or Bikram that's done in front of mirrors. For me, anyway, it's just so distracting to look into the mirror when I'm trying to focus on my breath and keep my eyes closed and find stillness all at the same time.
So I kinda freaked out when I saw the damn mirrors in this space. Ugh. I was worried that the students for this class would freak out, too, so I tried my best to keep us facing AWAY from the mirrors.
About 3/4 of the way through class, while demonstrating a standing pose, it happened. I caught sight of myself in the mirror, and I totally freaked out. All I could see was belly and butt - and they were huge! Enormous! Nothing at all like what I imagine I look like when I close my eyes and settle in to a pose.
When I'm practicing at any one of my other favorite studios, I don't have to worry about what I look like. I make the adjustments to my body as I feel them, I close my eyes, I come back to the sound and rhythm of my breath, and I FEEL my poses.
In my mind, I feel strong. I feel light.
I looked neither strong nor light when I looked at myself in the mirror that day.
I tried to laugh it off - ha ha!, I said. I said this was a good time to close your eyes and turn your attention inward so you wouldn't have to look in the mirror.
But I was surprised at what came up out of me, all the negativity, and the discontent, bordering on hate for my body.
Where the hell did THAT come from, I wondered.
Here I am, thinking that I'm so comfortable in my own skin for the first time in ages that I can swear SPANDEX! (Didja happen to catch the flying pigs that day when I wiggled into my first pair of Spandex yoga leggings?) I haven't been obsessed with my weight or with my clothing size or any of that crap. I felt graceful and light and strong, and...
All of that flew out the window when I saw myself leading that class.
I thought about maybe bringing sheets with me for the next time we have class there, so I can cover up the mirrors.
But, no. On second thought, this is going to be my practice from now on. If I'm going to be okay with how I look, it means that I have to be okay with what I think when I look at myself. I need to look at myself - on so many levels - and change that dialogue.
So, the mirrors stay. Uncovered. And we'll see what they uncover next.