The first time I attended a yoga class I was young, unmarried and pregnant. A failure at proper life planning, I was determined to be a champion fetus incubator by eating nutritious foods and exercising. During the session, I stretched with other yogis for an hour and ended the class on my back in a mediation that quickly became a drooling, power nap. I headed home afterward not completely sure why yoga was such a big deal. Six years later, I joined the Lansing Derby Vixens. After weeks of being tossed around on the track, I was offered the opportunity to practice yoga again. I was told that it would strengthen my core, prevent injury and help settle any mental noise clamoring for attention. As a working mother of three children, wife, skater and volunteer, I had some internal (and external) ruckus. I was delighted to find that Just B Yoga was tucked away in my own little neighborhood. After a short bike ride, I walked into a heated room in the middle of summer and chose an available mat. Belinda or “B.” owner and instructor, started the music and led us all through a challenging practice. It was there, with sweat beads rolling down my shinbone that I fell in love with yoga. This beautiful body of mine suffered tremendously when I was too young to protect it. I then grew to misunderstand the way it was intended to love or serve my spirit. I made love to my husband and gave birth to three precious children. Even after those gifts, I did not honor the mechanism that allowed me to physically create and sustain life. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I now use my practice to write my battle-weary body a love letter. I love the palms of my hands as I peer up at them. When B. says, “Reach with your heart…” to help us correct our pose, I imagine that I am reconnecting my heart with my injured body. I do not love my body because it is perfect. I am aware of my imperfections. I have days where the scars of my childhood swell and ache. I have a history of clothing that no longer fits and then fits again. I am not immune to the Photoshopped and airbrushed images we as women are told we must emulate. I carry my brokenness into the studio and pour them from my heart onto a mat where a new beginning is given with every single breath. Namaste.
As the founder & executive director of The Firecracker Foundation, Tashmica works to honor the bravery of children who have survived sexual trauma by encouraging the Mid-Michigan community to invest in the healing of their whole being. She is wife to a talented tile installer and mother to three boys made from the unique combination of thunder and lightning. Taking to the track as Nina Firecracker, Tashmica is one of more than 40 athletes playing roller derby with the Lansing Derby Vixens (LDV).