I got to meet myself during a hot yoga class tonight. For the first time in 44 years, I saw myself as an experienced version of my younger self instead of a failed version of my expectations. Let me tell you, it was a powerful experience.
As a busy wife and mother I split my time between three jobs, driving kids around, and spending quality time with my husband. Very little time is spent with myself, no less looking at myself. The most time I spend with my reflection is a collective ten minutes a day toweling off after a shower and brushing my teeth. As a fitness instructor my back is turned to the mirrors so I can lead my classes and correct their postures to ensure safety. I encourage them to see their reflections to ensure proper alignment, but I only see my reflection a fraction of the time.
In hot yoga I am forced to stare at me as I lock eyes with my reflection. Between postures I study my posture as I absorb the teacher’s instructions. On this night I wore a close fitting tank top to class instead of my usual loosely fitting tee shirt. For the first time I saw the curvature of my upper body muscles, which impressed me.
The muscles reminded me of all the things I do with my arms:
Hug my family who mean more to me than anything or anybody
Communicate my design direction at work through art and emails
Groom my cats who teach my boys how to love other species
Clean my house which I own with tremendous gratitude
Exercise programs that I both design and follow in celebration of my health
Once I saw my upper body, I saw my face, then my collarbone and finally the shape of my frame. Instead of seeing these components with an instant negative retort (‘you look tired’, ‘you look curvier than usual today’) I saw my younger self as an experienced adult who has overcome challenges. The challenges no longer left a mark on me.
All my life I saw myself as an aesthetic and never honored my invisible talents, I compared my reality to what I saw of others and chalked it up to their reality was better than mine. Mine needed more work until I could fully accept and appreciate it.
I was kind, but did not have as many friends as others
I was smart, but did not have straight A’s
I was funny, but nowhere near as affable as others
I never saw myself as pretty – ever
I had nice clothes, but my body did not fill them out as it should
Seeing myself felt like running into an old friend with whom I wanted to get reacquainted.
Reader, I encourage you to drop the criticism and start seeing yourself as a younger self with years of wisdom, memories, and experiences.
Celebrate your strengths, appreciate your lineage, and enjoy your resilient and beautiful body.
Comments about how you overcome negative self-talk and appreciate body evolution are welcome below!