Seeing yourself through a new lens

It’s been 14 months since my Bell’s Palsy diagnosis and I still struggle looking at myself in the mirror or in photos. Doctors in London told me I’d never fully recover — from now on, I’ll have a wonky smile and one eye will squint when I pucker and one side of my mouth won’t move as much when I talk. The muscles on one side of my face always feel tight, especially when I’m tired or stressed. I try not to let it bother me, but whenever I see myself now in a photo, I think, ‘wow, is that really what I look like?’

Suffice to say I wasn’t too keen to take photos of myself for this website. I also doubted if I could get into certain poses and hold them long enough for my husband to click the camera shutter. While there are plenty of stock images of anonymous women in various yoga poses, I could hardly use somebody else’s image to promote my yoga teaching! I knew I needed to get over myself and pose, literally, for the camera.

I’ve never looked at myself doing a yoga pose. Unlike gyms, most yoga studios don’t have mirrors. It’s a way to help ensure we don’t focus on what we look like and instead focus on how our body feels in a pose.

When my husband showed me the photos he took, I thought, ‘wow, is that really what I look like?’ Six months ago, I couldn’t tilt my neck backwards without being in enormous pain. Twelve months ago, I couldn’t do much more than lie on the yoga mat. As much as I hated getting on my mat and thinking about what I used to be able to do, I knew in my heart that any yoga practice would help stretch and strengthen my body. Of course, being a new mom, I struggled to find the time to do any yoga! But 5 minutes here, 15 minutes there… it made a difference. Even when I had no time during the day and just had 1 minute to stretch my neck and breathe before bed — it made a difference.

So when I saw the photos my husband took, yes, I thought, ‘wow, is that what I look like? I am so glad I did not give up.‘ The photos are not meant to intimidate. They’re not meant to inspire. To me, they’re proof that doing yoga, even for a few minutes each day or every other day, makes a difference.

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