Can you love yourself when you really see yourself and the reflection is not what you dream?
I started taking a hot yoga class recently. I have fought against hot yoga for years, dismissing it as a trendy fad and not something I needed to add to my regime. But, there was an Amazon deal I couldn’t resist and quite frankly, my fitness life is feeling stale lately so mixing it up can’t hurt.
So far, I like it a lot. It’s ridiculously hard and for some reasons I was not expecting.
I knew I’d sweat (although you can’t understand how much until you’re soaked to the bone). I knew I’d be tired. I knew it would make me sore. What I didn’t count on was the 90 minutes of mind-mess that would happen three days a week.
First of all, not only do you have to face a wall of mirrors for nearly your entire practice, but you are told, repeatedly to focus on yourself in the mirror.
I hate mirrors.
I have cultivated in my mind a lovely picture of myself. I am tall and shapely. This mental image gets me out the door to socialize on a daily basis. I have removed any and all full-length mirrors from my home so that I can maintain this
This mental image does not match the one I see in the mirror. The one in the mirror is lumpy and bumpy and, well, let’s just call it like it is…fat.
So, focusing on that body for 90 minutes three times a week has been challenging. Line that body in the mirror up against the other members of class, bendy, lithe, college ladies and the moms just like me who look a whole lot better, and it’s a double killer.
Now, I’m a big believer in the idea that you can not get any more in life until you are fully grateful for what you have. We learned the truth of this lesson the hard way with money. We learned, by default, to be grateful for the simplicity of having just enough. Once that lesson was learned, we started to see more abundance.
With my weight-loss clients, I try to lead them into loving the body they’re in for what it can do and how far it’s taken them. It’s through that love that they are able to make the changes necessary to take care of themselves and consequently the shape of their body changes. I know this works, because I’ve seen it play out in a bunch of women and men who leave me thinner, happier and healthier because they learned to love and take care of themselves.
Lately, I’ve been angry because it wasn’t happening for me. I’d gotten to a place with weight where I was stalled and I didn’t know why. I thought I had done it all for myself. I thought I did love my body for all that it has done and how far it has brought me. I thought I was in a place where I could expect more. Heck, I even wrote about how great I thought I was!
Then I saw myself in the mirror and the sound of body-hate and self-flagellation was deafening. Really looking at myself in the mirror forced me to see I have a long way to go, not just in the weight loss arena, but in the loving myself arena.
So why, then am I loving these yoga classes? Each teacher, no matter how different, incorporates self-acceptance into the class. We are taught to focus on our own mat and ignore the others around us. Admittedly, when the size 2 next to me is in a pretzel shape this is the hardest part of class, but it is the most important lesson for me to learn. I turn into myself. I thank myself for doing more for longer than I did the class before. I try not to focus on that layer of fat that I sometimes call “hips” but instead on how deep my lunge is. I do my best not to freak out if my shirt moves up to expose my stretch-marked belly and instead congratulate myself for getting into a headstand instead.
I’m learning to look in the mirror and as tough as it is, I’m working on liking what I see.
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