Rox Does Yoga

Yoga, Wellness, and Life

On Mirrors November 7, 2013

Filed under: reflections,yoga,yoga lifestyle — R. H. Ward @ 2:03 pm
Tags:

Lately I’ve been thinking about the role of mirrors in a yoga class. The studio where I’m teaching now (Wellness on Park! Tuesdays at 7:30!) doesn’t have a mirror wall, and neither does EEY, but I’ve practiced at plenty of studios that do, and if you’re taking yoga classes at a gym, the fitness room will almost always have a mirror wall. Mirrors can be great for yoga practice because often, catching sight of yourself while in an asana will lead you to immediately correct your posture – dropping your shoulders, twisting farther, standing up taller, straightening your arms. Seeing what you look like can help you fix issues you can’t feel.

But just as often, mirrors can lead you to being overly critical. Practicing without a mirror, you might feel like a rock star, which pretty much instantly dissolves when you catch a glimpse of your belly or your tush. Especially as women, we get so used to hating certain parts of our reflections, which makes it hard to see the whole – which in a yoga class is you, strong and powerful.

Looking in the mirror can lead you to compete with others, trying to make your posture match that of the person beside you, regardless of whether your level of ability matches that of the other person. It’s so much easier to compare when we see ourselves side by side with someone else in the same pose. We forget that what’s natural and healthy for her may not be good or even possible for us. And when there’s a mirror, it’s hard NOT to look in it, which changes the focus of your whole practice, keeping you constantly peeking instead of focusing your mind on your mat.

In recent years, I’ve come to prefer practicing without a mirror. I lose those valuable visual cues that could improve my asana, but I’m less apt to compare myself to others without that visual reminder that I’m not actually a rock star, and I’m better able to focus on my own experience of the pose, what the pose feels like to me and whether it feels right for my body. My experience of the asana can become internal, rather than external. This is what I want to share with my students: every person’s yoga practice is unique, and uniquely beautiful, because no two bodies are the same. My warrior 2 is not better than yours or anyone else’s. Keep your mind on your own mat, and be present here, now.

Advertisements
 

Body Image, Body Love, Part 2 October 22, 2013

Filed under: wellness,yoga lifestyle — R. H. Ward @ 5:06 pm
Tags: , , ,

I recently saw some articles responding to this photo by Maria Kang. If you google “Maria Kang What’s Your Excuse” you’ll see quite a few articles on the subject, but here are the two I read:

I really like the first article by Jule Ann because she doesn’t lecture Maria Kang and finds a way to turn off blaming and really think about how she views her body, and she comes to some positive conclusions. And I like the second article because the writer looks at the issue from several different angles. I like her application of the “no excuses” concept to other things like tuba playing and her analysis of how the body image issue is different, is internalized, is something we are made to feel guilty about. And I like her recognition that Kang’s photo was posted for a specific community and has been taken out of context and applied to a wider audience.

Overall, I think the dust-up over this photo points to a lot of different issues, but here’s what I want to highlight: Maria Kang is a mom and is beautiful and she makes fitness a priority in her life, and that’s fine. Jule Ann is a mom and is beautiful and doesn’t make fitness a priority right now, and that’s also fine. Different things work for different people, and no one way is applicable to every person.

 

Link Round-up: Body Image, Body Love September 12, 2013

Filed under: wellness,yoga lifestyle — R. H. Ward @ 1:59 pm
Tags: , , ,

I’ve read some really excellent articles this week, all somehow revolving around the concept of body image, and the recognition that there’s a human person living in that body you’re looking at:

  • What People Really Look Like: A look at bodies from the perspective of a massage therapist. I love this because I don’t get to see what my body looks like on a massage table. I love this writer’s sense of reverence and joy in his work.
  • These Are the Lines of a Story: This piece about a woman’s body after giving birth brought me close to tears twice (the part with the hair, and then the story she tells to her son). For the first time, instead of feeling thankful and proud that I have no stretch marks, I feel a little sad that I have no visible marks to share with my daughter when she’s older.
  • To Me, Mean Pictures Aren’t Funny (Even the Really Funny Ones): A nice reflection on kindness and compassion to reflect on the next time you get one of those email forwards with photos of people at Walmart in horrible outfits.

Here’s another one  that I didn’t read this week, but that I’ve been thinking about all week as the other articles above came across my screen:

  • When Your Mother Says She’s Fat: I love, love, love this piece and I think about it often. I remember how beautiful my mom was when I was little – I mean to say, she’s still beautiful, but I remember sitting on her bed and watching her and just knowing with little-kid certainty that she was the most beautiful mom there ever was. My heart breaks for the little girl this writer was, seeing her beautiful mom in that suddenly  harsh light; my heart breaks to think about YB having a realization like this. I am consciously trying, even now while YB is so little, to be careful about what I say to her about my appearance. If I practice now, it will come more naturally later on when she starts to understand more. When I’m feeling particularly down, I tell her, “Doesn’t Mama look so pretty today?” It makes me feel better, because it reminds me that to her, I am what beautiful is.