Mirror, mirror on the wall

So I was talking with a co-worker yesterday about his budding interest in yoga. He’s never taken a class but he wants to get into better shape. I suggested he start with my own yoga studio, Unity Woods. I started to explain the virtues of this studio, one of which is that it has no mirrors. Of course, he immediately asked “Well, how do you know if you’re doing the pose right if you can’t see yourself?” And hence started a reflective process that, if you bear with me, will tie into what we are doing here.

As a little back story, Unity Woods is one of the few Iyengar studios on the East coast. Without taking up too much space here, Iyengar is a type of yoga that is less about flipping oneself into a fast flow-y pose and more about experiencing each pose. To that end, each class consists of a very well trained instructor (the minimum instructor training period is 10 years, I’m told) who takes time to explain and demonstrate each pose, before we put ourselves into that pose. Because there are no mirrors, you are required to learn to “feel” the pose. To experience the pose and to listen to the little clues your body gives you to let you know that it’s happy in the pose. To tune out the distractions like “Am I doing it right? Oh god, my butt looks huge. She looks perfect in her pose” In short, you really do have to channel that inner zen. Practice, practice, and more practice will eventually have you doing it perfectly, on your own, but it takes time and patience, patience, patience.

Now, let’s talk about boot camp. The same holds true here, right? You all show up wearing whatever clothes you don’t mind mucking up, just having gotten out of bed. You have no earthly idea what you look like to others as you’re doing the exercises and as an instructor, I don’t want you to care. I want you to focus and to work on your form and to experience the process, without seeing whether or not you need to suck in your belly (sometimes you do) or need to push out your booty (and other times you should) In short, you’re learning to listen to what you can do and what I’m telling you, and going off of that. With time and practice, you get better and more efficient at the movements.

So, to bring this back to the original purpose, when we learn to eat clean, we’re doing the same thing. You’re learning to listen to what your body wants (not your head) and to live in that moment. You’re learning to make selections that will put all your parts into their happy places. You’re working on slowing down and relishing your eating experience. You’re learning that over time, you’ll get better at this and it will come easier. At which point, like yoga or boot camp, you’ll be doing it perfectly, without thinking.

So next time you want to learn to become one with food, put down that external distraction (scale, mirror and body weight recommendations) and live in the moment. In short, find your inner eating zen.


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