Monday, June 18, 2012

Do you wish you looked more like you?

During my last hair coloring appointment, my hair stylist Katie, who is also one of my yoga students, shared this great quote with me, "Do you wish you looked more like you?" She was of course using this line in reference to finding the perfect style, the perfect color.

I love that quote. Looking more like me is where I get when I do yoga. In my life, I have spent too much time trying to get it just right. The right haircut, the right body, the right job, the right partner. Everyone searches for something, some of us more that others. The problem is that the search, while focused on an individual, is too often motivated by external factors.

This morning one of the students in my class said, "I am going to do my best to not hate myself when I look at myself in my yoga clothes." She bravely said aloud what many, many people (women and men) think in their heads. In response, I told this courageous, honest student, "When you start that nonsense in your head, work harder, sweat more, get yourself out of your head."

Those of you who practice yoga know what I'm talking about. It's kind of magical. While nothing external changes over the course of your practice, you start to look different in those 90 minutes. You see yourself through a different lens. At the beginning of class you see your thighs or your belly or your eye bags. But by the end of class, that stuff, while it's still there, isn't the predominant image in the mirror.

It's almost like the inside comes out. The outside stuff becomes less visible, less relevant. Through the hard work, the sweat, focus, you've set the inside stuff free.

The other day in class, Kristen repeatedly encouraged us to see ourselves in the front mirror. "Look up", she'd say or "Look at yourself." "Don't look down!!! Look at your beautiful reflection." At the beginning of the class, this direction was hard for some of us. It's hard to look at something you don't want to see. It happens for me every single time I practice. But by the end of class, I truly am more me. I feel more like me. I look more like me. At the end of class, the image in the front mirror is so much more than my thighs and my belly and my wrinkles.

Katie's a great hair stylist and I always feel more like me when she's finished with my hair. But I can only justify getting my hair done every few months, so in between appointments, yoga will get me to that place- looking (and feeling) more like me.

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