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Renata Helfman

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My Mirror, Myself

Posted: 10/10/11 12:54 PM ET

Have you ever felt like you look in the mirror too much? I'm raising my own hand very high as I pose that question. My obsession with catching a quick glimpse has actually at times made me ground myself for a day of normal mirror consumption. I have always known that while my career in the beauty business has at times felt both like a gift and a curse, I thought my self-awareness about my vanity was under control and self-monitored by my ritual behavior modifications -- e.g., occasional "No lipstick day" or "Leave the house with wet hair" and my personal fave, "Wear the same outfit for two or three days." But the worst one and most difficult is the aforementioned mirror check.

"No Mirror Day" not even in the car -- my secret and favorite place to check my frown lines, whiteheads, stray hairs (God forbid) and any other imperfection or perfection of the day. Yes, I am great at knowing when to draw the line as my inner voice has been carefully honed to check in with my valley girl genes for some good old "get over yourself therapy." I thought the ying and the yang in my mind were covered, or so I thought. Little did I know that my journey with the reflection that I knew or thought I knew oh-so-well would be challenged, scrutinized and in the most heartbreaking way change the way I look in the mirror forever.

I have been practicing yoga for a decade; it has been the biggest gift I have ever given myself. When practicing diligently, I have learned to be a more flexible and loving person inside and out. I have met great friends and traveled to many wonderful places that have enriched my life in so many ways. When I heard about Bikram yoga, I was intrigued and actually got a super deal on a starter series, and with much excitement to try something new I was off to the races. As a novice at Bikram, but a journeyman at yoga in general, I instantly gravitated to the practice. The rooms are sparse and are there are wall to wall mirrors. OMG this was new for me... So let me get this straight. I am supposed to do these poses while looking at myself? In other classes it is just the opposite. I can't tell you how many times I would've paid big bucks for a quickie peek to adjust my ponytail!

So, here I am in a bind while I was loving this hot sparse womb of a class and the generous banter of my teachers, the looking at myself (and by self they mean eyes) in the mirror was killing me! Why was this so hard? I thought I was a pro! So with my self reflection (and by that I mean inside) here is what Bikram is asking of me. It's all still and most likely will be a challenge and a gift.

The idea is to meet your own eyes as you move through the poses to develop a relationship with your mirrored self and start being kind to her.

Okay, so here was my struggle. Could I ever look in the mirror the same way again? I think not!

  • I go to class as much as possible, and I am starting to see past the physical body so I know I am getting closer.
  • My intrigue and habitual mirror time has become less fascinating as I find my eyes drifting to the beauty I see all around me more and more.
  • Lastly, and most importantly, my "mirrored self" without hair and makeup in that sweaty, stinky room is starting to be able to make eye contact without judgment and sometimes even a smile.