I don't have mirrors in my studio for a reason. I don't want you to see or care how you look in a pose. I want you to feel the pose.
A few weeks ago I went to dinner and a movie with the girls (Hunger Games, loved the books, loved the movie). As we were sitting and chatting, one of the ladies, someone I've only met twice, leaned over and asked, "So, do you ever look at your students and think wow, you totally look like a whale in down dog?"
She then tried to encourage me to tell the truth, it's just us, you've had a glass of wine.
Truth be told, I was offended to the core. This person I didn't even know was making an awfully harsh judgement on my character.
Do I think my students look like whales in downward dog? No fucking way. If by chance a whale came into my class, I don't think it would look like a whale in downward dog. I'd be too busy trying to find a way to get a whale into the pose rather than thinking either a) there's a WHALE in my class or b) this whale literally looks like a whale in downward dog.
For me, downward dog is the pose where I can look out and see all the little body quirks. Do I think so and so needs to lay off the cupcakes? No. I think so and so has something really weird going on with her shoulder, so I'll try all sorts of verbal cues to help her out, help her find some space in downward dog. Then I'll make a mental note of the quirk I see in that shoulder and watch the rest of her totally not whale resembling practice and see what else is going on. Then after class in my yoga teacher stalker style, I will write down everything about that student that I noticed. And I'll take a couple of days to think of things for her to try. And, then the next time I see her in class, I will have the whole class do what I planned out for her. And then I'll take more notes.
And, I'll never call a student out individually in front of the class.
And, I never ever think any of you look like whales in downward dog.
Because we are all struggling. Because people come to my class to feel better. To know that their friendly yoga teacher stalker is not judging their practice because it isn't her place to.
Yoga can be such a powerful tool in getting to know yourself and then accepting that being. Apparently, I'm not the only one who feels that way. Anna of Curvy Yoga just released an ebook called Curvy Voices. It is a collection of essays on this very topic. I am thrilled to be a part of this book. And, I'm positive that the other contributors to this collection have never looked at a student and thought they looked like a whale in downward dog.
The book is free. Download it now and curl up with it this weekend!