Why is it so hard to see myself?
In yoga, we practice in front of mirrors.
Not every studio is like this; in fact, I think on the whole, most are not.
So, almost every day and often first thing in the morning, I am eye to eye with myself in front of floor to ceiling mirrors. And, because my mat is placed closely by, it is a pretty close up view.
I see myself, then, like this, head to toe, in a little outfit, hair back, and many times with not much make up.
Basically, arriving at the yoga studio is like coming out of hiding. I am there on my mat with no armor, so to speak.
Seeing myself up close and personal on such a regular basis has been enlightening. It has made me see a clearer picture of myself in general.
I have never considered myself vain, and after I am dressed and ready to go in the morning, I rarely check the mirror again during the day. I have never been the type to primp throughout the day.
In essence, I do not really look to see myself on a regular basis, but yoga is forcing me to do so.
For much of the practice, I am pretty oblivious of my reflection. In fact, at one point, there was a photo shoot in the studio and the instructor gave me some photos. It was a kick to see myself doing yoga and I realized that even though I practice in front of the mirrors, I never really see myself.
In many poses, we have to find our dristi, or focal point, to help us balance. This happens in Eagle and Dancer and Chair.
Look at a stare point, the instructor says. It can be your eyes or a point on the floor in front of you.
Being in the front, I am forced to look at my own eyes, and I am surprised to find it is a little disconcerting.
I balance and my gaze flits. I look from the reflection of my eyes to that of the back windows. I look to the mirror at whatever is over my shoulder. And I glance once more at my own eyes before looking aside again.
Why is this so weird for me?
I always thought I knew myself so well, but I think the discomfort in seeing myself eye to eye tells me I might not really be as familiar as I think I am.
I cannot seem to pass my own stare test.
If I were to be honest, I would say looking into my own eyes presents a challenge to really, really see myself. And, if it was easier to do, I would probably have an easier time letting others really see me too.
Everyone loves you, Mom, says my daughter repeatedly. She tells me I should see myself how others see me.
But I know experiences can skew one’s views, and I think this is what happened to me.
Yoga has made me stronger. It has given me muscles, for sure, but it has also given me the courage to see what broke so long ago. I had not really looked in years.
It has been difficult to look at my eyes in the mirror because when confronted with myself, I see those pieces, and I am critical.
Yoga is teaching me to have compassion for myself and to build my strength from there.
At the end of each practice, we hold our hands in prayer in a seated position, and the instructor tells us to bow our heads and thank the teacher within.
I do so with gratitude because, through yoga, I am healing with some long overdue self love.
Editor: Brianna Bemel