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Image via Things that go Bling (http://brazen-design.blogspot.com)

So y’all might remember that last summer I decided to take my love for roller derby to the next level. I signed up for boot camp, strapped on some skates… and dropped out after learning that I have no talent at all for rollerskating, and I am in fact a non-athletic delicate flower who should just stick with standing on my hands in yoga. But I continue to be obsessed with the all-female sport on wheels and still regularly attend MTLRD (Montreal Roller Derby League) bouts in my neighbourhood.

I’ve noticed, though, that my relationship with the game has changed. I used to watch it and want to be on the track, to be the jammer scoring the points or the blocker knocking out opposing team members. Now, I’m happy to be watching from the bleachers with a PBR in my hand, and I’m more aware of how the amazing, dedicated, hard-working women on the track can inspire me in my everyday life. Here are the 5 most important things I’ve learned from being a roller derby fan:

1. Obstacles… simply hip check ’em outta the way Or even better, try to find another way around them. In roller derby, the primary objective is for the lead jammer (the point-scoring player) to make her way through “the pack” (8 players from both teams). She and her teammates will let nothing stand in the way. Hip checking is allowed and necessary, while elbowing isn’t. And the jammer uses speed and strategy to get around the opposite team players. Watching this makes the perceived obstacles in my own life feel so much easier!

2. Community over competition In the final bout of the recent Beast of the East tournament, the two teams vying for top place, Les Filles du Roi and La Racaille (both of MTLRD) had a quick dance party to “99 Red Balloons” on the track, before tearing into each other. It’s not unusual to see two jammers amicably chatting before they sprint off, and when somebody goes down with a serious injury, the bout stops and everyone gets down on one knee until the injured player is off the track. And no matter how heated things may get on the track, there is always an after party.

3. The importance of team spirit The jammer may be the star player who gets all the attention, but she can’t make it around the track without the support from her fellow players, who block the opposing jammer and assist her movement through the pack. Sports have teams, yoga has the kula, and in the rest of life we have our friends, family and allies who help us get through the rough patches.

4. Strong powerful women are hot Okay, I knew this already. But I have to say that part of the appeal of roller derby is the sexiness factor. And not the definition of sexiness that we’re fed by mainstream culture, but a sexiness that celebrates strength and fit bodies of all sizes, and redefines femininity. Roller derby, for me, is also all about ass. That skating leads to some serious glutes, which are highlighted by shorts and cute skirts. It might just what Venus Williams was going for in her French Open outfit ~ except that on roller girls, it works.

5. Animal print, gold lamé, fishnets, and panties over spandex = awesome These are the basic elements of many derby team uniforms, and they look just as hot off the track. I confess to already having a fair amount of animal print, lamé and fishnets in my wardrobe ~ now I’m going to see if I can rock panties over tights in public…

So y’all know that I love roller derby. And when my local league offered a 2-month boot camp to train new recruits, I signed up and then bought myself a second hand shiny white pair of quad skates. I was excited to finally live my fantasy of being a derby queen; I’d even picked out a name for myself (Buns N’ Roses, #108). Even though I haven’t worn roller skates since I was 12 years old, I figured I’d be able to pick it up again.

But oh, dudes, it’s way harder than I remembered. My skating attempts were a disaster. I spent most of the time on my butt, with everyone skating around me. It brought up awful memories of being the slowest, worst player in high school PE class. I also realized that I’m afraid of injury: bruises, sprains, broken bones are all potential roller derby hazards.

I just have to be honest with myself that I am not an athlete. I have lower back problems, weak ankles, and I hate pain. If there’s anything that I’ve learned from yoga, it’s how to listen to my body and respect my limitations. Last weekend, in Kelly McGonigal’s yoga class at Being Yoga, I received a very clear message from my body: “I am a princess, not a tomboy. Cover me in glitter, not bruises. I am not designed for speed and smashing. Dress me in lingerie and dance.” Read the rest of this entry »

Girls, roller skates, commitment, passion, dedication… and happening in my neighbourhood.

Video is the fantastic work of Tamy at Tourism Montreal’s Girls’ Getaway blog. Check out the Montreal Roller Derby championship game on Saturday, August 8.

** J’aime... is a new irregular feature on stuff that has nothing to do with “yoga” but which I just happen to love and feel like blogging about.

These hot humid Montréal days make us feel all sweaty and sleazy – who has time for “yoga”? Our feet are too dirty for our yoga mats, so get out your dancing shoes, roller skates and meditation cushion, and do summer properly in La Belle Ville!

Celebrate one love! The Montréal International Jazz Festival is going the way of this blog (ie,  “it’s all jazz, baby”) and this year’s line-up features some excursions into the rasta life. And we all know reggae is about the one love, right? So’s yoga! Heck yeah, Jah. Learn more about the “golden age” of Jamaican music in Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae, which will be showing 4 times daily throughout the festival. Otherwise, I will be avoiding downtown Montréal for the next week.

July 4 – 12, Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae, Musée d’art contemporain; check website for showtimes & tickets

Root for your hometeam! Wait a second, they’re both hometeams! Cheer on Montréal Roller Derby teams La Racaille (which translates into “The Scum”) and Les Filles du Roi (which translates into “The Girls of the King,” and which has some Quebecois historical significance) as they duke it out on the roller rink. Perhaps you wonder: C’est quoi, “roller derby”? Well, check out this bitchin’ video for the perfect roller derby primer…

July 4, 7:00pm, La Racaille vs Les Filles du Roi, Arena St Louis.

Meditate like a rockstar! The Montréal chapter of Dharma Punx have a new location on the Plateau, which is much more accessible than that obscure yoga studio out in St Henri. Cut off your shirt sleeves and bare your tattoos for this regular meditation session and dharma talk, which meets every Sunday evening at Studio Bliss. The crew is gearing up for a Noah Levine visit in September, stay tuned for more details.

July 5, 6:30 – 8:00pm, Studio Bliss, 3841 St Laurent Blvd.

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