I used to practice in front of mirrors.
I liked it. It reminded me of my long ago dance classes. And it gave me a larger sense of the room because I could look forward and see behind me.
But for awhile now, I’ve been practicing without the mirrors. At first, it was a little unsettling. At one studio, I found myself looking into the eyes of those facing me. In another, I found myself staring at a wall. In still another, I found myself looking out a window onto the busy city streets.
After a while, though, the weirdness went away.
Now, it’s not so freaky to look someone in the eye across the room. And the cracks and the slats in the walls and windows serve as my stare points and help me find my balance. The city streets outside the windows are no longer a distraction, and I’ve even watched the rain fly sideways across the floor-to-ceiling windows as I flowed inside while it thundered outside.
I don’t miss the mirrors now and no longer need to look forward to see what’s behind me.
So now the image of my practice is mostly in my mind, which is sometimes a tumultuous place. Sometimes, the person in there is tough when the practice is rough and wonders why I’m not stronger or more flexible, why I can’t catch the balance or catch more air.
And so it was with wonder that I viewed a video of a class of one of my instructors. There’s a beautiful soundtrack, and I can’t hear anything that was going on in my mind. This video is a mirror of the practice, and all I see in its reflection is the power and grace of everyone in it.
This video translates the almost tangible power of flow. Watching it, I can feel the strength captured in the movements, the flexibility found in the folds and the bravery beneath the balances.
It was a beautiful practice that provided both power and peace.
The other night, in yet another practice, we were in rag doll. Our heads hung heavy between our cradled arms as we folded in half.
Put your head down, the instructor said to the man behind me. He placed his hand on the man’s head and asked, Do you think a lot?
Yes, I do, the man answered, honesty spilling forth from his fold.
Well, I think I’m someone who’s been blessed not to think too much, the instructor said. It’s okay to rest your head and just not think.
And so it goes for me with the practice and the flow. It lets me find my strength while resting my head. It’s always there, the power and the peace.
And now, I can even watch it on video.