Friday, September 7, 2007

Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Beautiful

I remembered the first time I heard these words on a commercial and frankly, it annoyed me. For some reason today, these same words occurred to me today during Yoga with a whole new meaning. I originally started taking Yoga because my dear cousin, Anne, who was dying from breast cancer, asked me to go. I couldn’t imagine what you could do for an hour without loud music with an instructor shouting directions akin to that of a drill sergeant at the top of her lungs. What would I do for an hour without lots of action, punishing movements and throbbing, heart pounding music? I found an oasis of quiet, poses movements that taught me to be flexible and a wholesome outlook when considering the other women in the class.

As I was thinking today during class, I was taken back to my younger years when Nan Pizitz took me under her wing at the YMCA. I wanted to be an aerobics instructor and thought I was graceful. Nan, however, saw in reality, an awkward young woman whose graceful movements were a figment of her own imagination. She must have felt a good measure of pity for me because she invited me into her basement studio and spent hours teaching me how to hold my hands, move in true rhythm and make that inner grace an outer reality. I will always be thankful for her investment in me.

From there I went on to teach at the Y and a local hospital and reveled in instructing dancing aerobics and later step aerobics. I dropped out when my travel schedule became impossible but also because this field became about breast augmentations, thong leotards, and comments that were full of comparisons and chalking up body failures.

I eventually came back as a participant but consistently avoided anything that had quiet connected to it. Then came Anne’s request and I grudgingly showed up for a class that was conducted in a dark room enveloped in slow music and included a whole new language involving downward dogs, cobra, and sun salutations. I was determined that I was going to give it one shot and then report back to Anne that I tried, but it just didn’t fit my personality. But I was so wrong. I found a group of people who were encouraging, cognizant that we are built so differently, and that I could settle down. I found that I could pray, contemplate all kinds of things (like this entry), and that the quiet was wonderful. I looked around the room today and saw Dot and Joyce who are in their 70’s and literally going strong. Joyce has gotten back the 3” in height that she lost due to osteoporosis. They are beautiful. Then there is Dana and Peg who are both built like graceful ballerinas but are graced with inner beauty that is so much more powerful. They are beautiful. LeAnn has this tiny, powerful body. She has a passion for Yoga and is challenging instructors to be better in their practices. She is joined by Marsha who works hard to make sure that each class experience is a treasure for that day. They are beautiful. There is Bettina a new mom and Deidre who just lost her mom. They are women of color, however very different. They are beautiful. There are the best friends in the back of the class who are in their 50’s, look like twins, and have fun carving out time for their friendship. They are beautiful.

All these wonderful women have reminded me that I am a treasured child of God. Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful. Namaste....

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