I wish my yoga students could see themselves through my eyes. I wish you could see yourself the way I see you. For just a moment if they could see what I see, they would fall in love with themselves. If for just a moment you could see yourself as I see you, not as you see your reflection in the mirror. You know the way your eyes immediately go to what you do not like about yourself, but my eyes see no such imperfections. I see your beauty in a way that sometimes overwhelms me. I see it in each and every one of you. I know the way I see you is not how most of you are seeing yourself. I see you fidget, or apologize for being sweaty or inflexible or out of shape. I see none of that as a distraction from the beauty you are, and it hurts my heart that you see flaws; I see pure beauty. I see you looking at your reflection in the mirrors; adjusting your clothing, your hair, your look. I see you tucking it in or pulling it up, sucking in or playing small; I see you because in you I see me. I do it too. We all have.
But what we see in the reflection of the mirror is only our shell, our outer layer that sadly we have been trained to tear apart. We learn to see ourselves in pieces, we pick out the pieces we don't love or are ashamed of, and that's the parts of ourself we tend to see. We learn to pick at them so much we honestly start believing we are flawed. Becoming self-conscious over conscious of ourselves to the point of missing our true beauty.
But I get to see something else.
I get to watch you breathe and move, and somewhere in class, I start to see you. I see your energy; I see you expressing yourself in an enchanting manner, much grander than skin and bones or the shape of your yoga pose. As class gets more challenging it breaks down your ability to be in control, your ability to maintain perfection and it opens you up to vulnerability; that is where you become the most beautiful. Somewhere along the way you put aside your need to keep it all together as you believe you ought to and you surrender. You give in to the hot room with sweat dripping off your face. You dig into the challenge of the practice. Your commitment to your yoga practice and your breath is now taking more of your energy, requiring you let go of the layers you wear most days. In those moments you become more yourself; more radiant than you will believe. You drop the well-manicured image you’ve spent so much of your lifetime creating and even more of your lifetime maintaining. It runs down your face in tiny beads of makeup and rests as smudges of mascara on your sweat towel. You exuberate life as the little hairs framing your face begin to curl from the humidity, and the perfectly sleek hairdo you came in with starts to frizz.
I can see life radiating from you. You glow, your rosy cheeks flushed from the heat and the yoga, bring aliveness to your face. The time you have spent breathing and moving, pumping blood and breath through your body has cleared you. Opened you up, swept your stressors away and given you freedom. It has taken your burdens and just for this bit of time tucked them away. You have spent class letting go of all that has been weighing you down, and I can see the lightness in you. Even if the practice is feeling hard, I can see a genuineness in you that makes me smile.
At the start of class, you land on your mat with the weight of your world on your shoulders, slouched, and tired yet looking perfectly put together. Then you get sweaty, you get hot, you get frustrated and sometimes almost defeated that’s when then you finally let go of your need to keep it all just so, and you set yourself free. You let go enough and surrender to the moment, finding bliss. Nothing is perfect, or comfortable, you are hot and sweaty, but oddly you are at ease, you have found a moment in time where there is no separation between you and what you are doing and there you are at peace. You have lost interest in looking perfect, there is no longer a split between your real self and the self you sometimes try to portray.
There is just you.
Class ends. You lay on your back sinking into savasana and while you are messy, you have never been more beautiful.
I count my blessings every time I get to come and place a cold cloth on your forehead or softly adjust your savasana. At that moment I wish you could see yourself as I see you. I know you leave the yoga room going to the bathroom where you may rebuild the mask again. Fixing your hair, or makeup and in the bathroom mirror reflection, you are again so quick to see all that you believe are faults.
You should know I am beyond grateful for the unguarded moments I get with you. Try to see what I see; it really is a magical thing your beauty.
To my yoga students, thank you.