Here’s another Yoga First: in hot vinyasa class recently I deliberately put myself in the front row, the row right in front of the mirrors. 75 minutes of practising about 10cm away from my own reflection. I would usually avoid this position, preferring to hide from myself in the second row. But I’ve been embracing mirrors recently in my home practice: I’m teaching myself to use the visual feedback as a way of working on some alignment things and it’s also a practice of observation without judgment, just seeing what is. Literally seeing.
But really the most amazing thing about the mirror is how much it’s helping me overcome some problems with lack of physical confidence. The opposite of what most women say, perhaps! I love to be contrary! 🙂
I’m not used to seeing myself practice, in fact I often practice with my eyes closed so that I can focus better and in class I like to position myself so that I have the least view of my fellow students as possible. All this, combined with a lack of physical confidence from years of illness where I gave up trusting my body or asking it to move joyfully like this, has created a slightly unreal quality to my physical practice. It’s almost as though my yoga practice is a dream or a figment of my imagination. I’ve never seen it so how do I know it exists? I honestly half expect to wake up and find that none of this weird, funny life I have now is actually happening.
The mirror soon sorts that out. I can see myself standing at the top of the mat facing the front. And slightly against my expectations I find I look just like the other girls in the room. I’m wearing the same uniform of fancy-patterned sweat-wicking leggings and vest. Like them I’ve got my hair braided or in a knot to keep it out of my face. I’m on my own mat, towel on top to absorb the sweat. I know the moves through class, give or take some surprise variations. I’m getting familiar with what my body can do and what modifications I want to make, how to breath, and how to pace myself through the class. I don’t stand out as amazingly good or hopelessly bad. I am just another girl taking a yoga class. I am no different.
It’s amazingly normal, this reflection of mine. My body is just a body, a collection of muscles, bones, organs, skin and all the rest. It respires, it perspires, it does all the other essential functions of a human body. And on top of all this, it does a bunch of yoga moves! No-one looking at me would know what brought me here, to this place in front of the mirror. And that’s OK. We all have our dramas, mine are just my personal variation on a common human theme of hard done by-ness, difficulties overcome, everyday bravery.
I’m a small hero in lycra.