The Woman on the Mat Next to Mine

As a child, I occasionally became envious of girls more athletic than I. This was before I learned to envy women’s bodies, and only envied what those bodies could do. When I became jealous my mother in her wisdom would say to me “Margaret, I bet those girls can’t sing a note”.

I wish I could say I have outgrown this. Although I did the recommended soul-searching and maturing during my twenties which gave me what is often called “positive self-image”, I still fall prey to the false god of desiring what someone else has.

This happens more often than it should during yoga.

One reason I love long-distance running is that for all intents and purposes you are alone. Even during races there is solitude, and so much exertion that you can’t see anyone else.ut in yoga class I am surrounded, often by women in very good shape, and by mirrors. So as we’re setting up I peek at the woman on the mat next to mine.

Her stomach is so flat…and look at her clothes. She must have on $250 worth of yoga gear. Doesn’t she usually stay for the Pilates class after this, too? Her skin is really clear…crap was she just doing one-armed pushups??!!? And I envy. Oh how I envy. I have the life I want, but for a moment I imagine my life would be easier if I had a nicer body and skin, and nicer clothes to put them in.

Then we begin, and we are asked to set an intention and I pray “God help me value my body today”. If I’m lucky at some point, even for a second, I’ll be challenged so much that I’ll ignore the hottie next to me and the mirrors all around the room, and I can focus on nothing else but balance and strength.

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