I went to my first Bikram yoga class yesterday. I bought a Groupon in August for three months of unlimited classes and then spent the last six months procrastinating going. All that lethargy and practicing NOT going, built up quite the resistance to move through. Getting myself to the studio felt like swimming through mental molasses. The truth is that just walking through the door felt like a tremendous accomplishment.
Thus, twenty minutes later, even though I was sweating more than I ever have in my whole life (and that’s a lot…), I didn’t care. I was still so happy. Maybe that was a factor in what happened next.
The yoga studio had mirrors on three walls. Mirrors don’t always feel like my friends. They fall into the same category as photographs – occasionally I like the way I look in them, but mostly I focus on a feature that I find unattractive (stomach, nose, periodic multiple chins – you get the idea). Yesterday, the mirror was my friend. It wasn’t that I looked perfect (whatever that might be), but I liked the way that I looked. It wasn’t that my stomach looked flat, but my body looked good as a whole. I spent a significant portion of the class marvelling at the experience (when I wasn’t feeling like I was going to throw up). It was quite exceptional for me.
By the time I went to bed last night, the euphoria had dampened, although not completely diminished. As I examined myself in the mirror, I didn’t see what I had seen at the yoga studio. In fact, I shifted to wondering if the mirrors at the yoga studio are like mirrors sometimes are in clothing store change rooms. Those mirrors that make you look thinner than you are in real life. I turned these thoughts in my mind over for a bit, laughing at myself a little and looking for a thought path that felt good. I arrived at the conclusion that I don’t really know how my body looks. I don’t know which mirrors are reflective of objective reality. Whether objective reality matters or not in the case of body image can be a blog post for a different day. On this day, I decided that I want to practice inquiring when I don’t feel sure about an impression. I want to practice gathering evidence and asking questions. Thus, tomorrow when I go back for my second class, I’m going to ask the instructor about the mirrors. You might ask why it matters. Here’s why it does (for me): I liked how I felt yesterday. I want to understand the components that helped create the feeling, so I can build it again. Unless it’s just a fun house trick. Even if it’s that, I have a heightened understanding that I CAN feel like that and that my body doesn’t need to look perfect to do it.
Clearly, I’ve already realized the value of my Groupon. Stay tuned for more Bikram Yoga adventures.