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Kansas City MO 64131

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Filtering by Tag: beautiful

YOGAVERSARY

Cindy Maddera

I went to a yoga class at work on Tuesday. Usually I just go on Wednesdays, but I was feeling the need for some discipline. I snuck into Amie’s yoga flow class knowing that I could easily disappear into a corner. The previous week, she had been teaching the class the basics of Ashtanga yoga and for today’s class she wanted to continue with that theme but incorporate more of the seated postures. If you are not familiar with an Ashtanga practice, you will hear the words “seated postures” and feel some comfort in knowing that you will be just sitting around on your mat. ‘Seated’ sounds easy and yes, once your butt is on the mat, the pose that follows is simple. It’s the getting there and getting out parts that are hard. It starts in down dog and involves bringing the weight into your hands and shoulders as you hop up and swing your legs through. Then you do all of this in reverse to get out.

Give me the fundamental standing asanas any day. The sweep through thing has never been my strong suit.

From the grumblings of some of the other students in the class, I take it it is not their favorite thing either. But the occasional Ashtanga practice is good for you. It’s simple, yet challenging and for certain personalities (or doshas) it is a practice that can take you out of a comfort zone. The full Ashtanga practice is not my yoga practice though. I prefer a more body balanced practice then what Ashtanga provides, but often modify an Ashtanga series to my own needs. I was thinking about my yoga needs while trying to fling my body forward into a seated position and doing some math in Tuesday’s class and I figured out that 2019 is my 20 year yoga anniversary. It will be twenty years since I walked in and attended my very first yoga class, which happened to be an Ashtanga class.

I hated it.

I’m not kidding.

I hated that first class, but I went back for more because I am prideful and refuse to accept failure. I recognize that hating my first yoga class is not a failure. It just seemed like a failure to me at the time because I thought (had set myself up for it) I would love yoga. And I do love yoga. Just not Ashtanga yoga. Twenty years later and I don’t hate Ashtanga any more either. That one class opened me up to the giant world of yoga and a yoga practice that brings me joy and comfort. It also gave me something that I have not found in any other format and that is body confidence. Being on my mat is the one place where I am not just comfortable in my skin, but where I truly feel like this body is beautiful. Yoga has also given me a community of women who are all strong, beautiful and so ridiculously supportive. Karen, my yoga teacher, continues to be a source of reference and knowledge in all things yoga and life. Then there’s Shannon, who talked me into teaching again. She set me up with Kelli Austin at Sunshine Yoga who promoted my strap workshop without really even knowing me. Now I have Kelly, who’s joy of life radiates out of her like an atom bomb.

Kelly made me realize something today. She teaches the Wednesday lunch time class that I normally attend and today I was her only student. I had stepped back to plank and suddenly I hear her exclaim “Oh my gosh! Look at how you’re on the tips of your toes! I’ve never seen anybody do that. It’s like you’re floating!” First, I had no idea that I was doing this in plank pose. Secondly, it makes me laugh because if she only knew how much I struggled with plank in those early years of yoga. Now I was making it look effortless, like I was floating. For my next trick, Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat. No really, what is my next trick? I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want for 2019 and one of those things is to celebrate my yoga anniversary. I’ve already signed up for an anatomy of yoga workshop in February, but I’d like to speckle the year with attending yoga workshops. Maybe this is the year I finally take a Kundalini yoga class or I find a teaching gig at one of the studios near me.

I do know that I want to spend more time in the vicinity of the kind of women who constantly cheer each other on.

I AM

Cindy Maddera

The Cabbage looked at her reflection and confidently declared "I am beautiful!" I marveled at her confidence. I don't think I have ever looked into a mirror and made such a declaration. More like "good enough", "that's as good as it gets", or my personal favorite, "that'll do pig. that'll do." There are four mirrors in this house: two on the wall in the bathroom, one handheld one in the shower and the little Frozen one that the Cabbage keeps in her box of dress-up clothes. That's the one she's looking into when she makes her declaration; her dress-up clothes are strung out all over the living room floor. I'm lounging on the couch, pretending not to notice while half watching some show on the Food channel. But I notice. I notice and the whole thing sits down hard on a nerve and bothers me. It bothers me for days. I keep picking at it like a scab in my brain.

It bothers me on several levels. I can't narrow it down to just one thing. I don't want the Cabbage to be attached to beauty, but at the same time I berate myself for mentally thinking that she shouldn't declare her own beauty. Of course she thinks she's beautiful. She is and everyone tells her that she is all the time, even strangers on the streets. I just can't get over the ability to declare one's self beautiful. Bold, conceded, brash. But then again, I wasn't doted on the way the Cabbage is doted on. I didn't have grandparents that were close or cared all that much. Those people who did dote, I didn't believe or trust. When I was really young and had long hair, my dad was the only one patient enough to brush it without making me scream. I would sit in his lap and he'd brush the tangles out of my hair and tell me I was beautiful. I thought it was my hair. My hair was beautiful and when I cut it all off, I lost my beauty. 

After that, I was the chunky one, the smart one, the overachiever, the busy one. Lisa Simpson. I remember walking with family friends down to the swimming beach at the lake we camped at every other weekend. I was thirteen and our friend Rena, part of the village of women who raised me, mentioned that I was slimming down. I said "thank you, but I could still stand to lose a few more pounds." She responded with a very stern "no, you most certainly don't." My mother's silence during all of this told me that she also believed I needed to lose a few more pounds. My mother's silence on anything positive about my body would be the fuel to push myself to do more, exercise more, eat less. Pretend to eat the food on my dinner plate. One small milkshake and five french fries for lunch. If I did x amount of this, I could eat y amount of that. Eventually I wouldn't care if I ate y amount without doing x amount of whatever. Eventually I wouldn't care if I was beautiful or not. Eventually I would realize that it's not my face or body that makes me beautiful. 

Yet, it would be nice to look into a mirror and be able to say confidently that I am beautiful, instead of seeing all the things I need to improve on or that giant pore on my nose. If I had to really narrow it down, if someone forced me to put my finger on it,  and describe what exactly it is that bothers me about the Cabbage's bold declaration, is that she can so easily say it about herself. She believes it when people tell her she's beautiful. Where I question everything, she just accepts it and I look at this five year old and wonder how she does it. How does she just accept and believe? Here is where I prove that I am ill equipped to raise a good and decent human being because here is where I admit to you that there is a part of me that wanted squash her belief that day. Maybe not squash it, but discourage it. This flashes briefly across my brain and I know it's not my voice saying it, but I know who's voice it is, which makes me wince slightly. I don't want to be that voice and in fact, refuse to be that voice. Instead, I let her be the teacher. I let the five year old be the mother. I stand in front of the mirror, clench my fists and just say it. I am beautiful. 

And I almost believe it.