Today, I want to introduce you to my Yoga Buddy Martha. Martha and I met at the 2013 Women’s Retreat in Austin, Texas. Recently, Martha competed in her first yoga asana championship in Dallas, Texas! I asked Martha if she could share her experiences, and I am so happy she did. Please enjoy.
My first Bikram yoga class was in October of 2006. I wasn’t a typical first timer-I loved it from the beginning. Due to distance I wasn’t a regular practitioner- I’d go a month here and there. Maybe a couple times a week for a year. Then a studio opened by my house about three years ago. I’ve been going about six times a week for three years now. I love it- it’s part of my life now. Keep in mind I’m a normal person that actually was quite inflexible pre-yoga (was never able to touch my toes).
This year I decided I was ready for a competition. Last year I attended the Texas Regional after the Women’s Retreat (with Leigh). I nervously told myself that the next competition I would go for it. I’ve been mentally getting ready for the competition since that summer. We started formally training in our studio about six weeks before the competition. I was already regularly attending advanced class so training was really picking postures and running the routine that was an added part of my practice. I would take beginner class then stick around working on competition stuff for about 30 minutes each day. The first week or two I was SO SORE! My body finally got into the groove and I got a few massages along the way. I did the math and the 107 days leading up to the competition I took 107 classes. Whoops- accidental 107 day challenge!
One of the more shocking things about the whole competition thing was the reactions I got from people when I told them that there was a yoga competition and that I was participating. “Yoga competition, that’s an oxymoron!” was the gist of most reactions. I got so tired of justifying the competition and my participation I started calling it a yoga recital. I told people I was getting on a stage and that I was going to do yoga in front of an audience to show my appreciation for the sport. That statement is true- I wasn’t doing it to win. Why were other people so worried about what I was choosing to do anyway?
In Texas the regionals are big. I think the total number of competitors this year was 73. This means the competition was all day. On the day of the competition there was a Bikram class offered for competitors in the morning (7:45 am to be exact). You don’t know me, but I HATE taking class early in the morning! It was a crammed class of maybe 80 people. It was a sweat-fest! We were all dying. I love me a sweaty class normally, but on competition day- not really.
I took class, ran to the hotel, took a shower then hauled to the competition location. We all had to be dressed and ready to go for the beginning of the competition. All 73 of us paraded onto the stage for a picture at the beginning of the competition (awkward!). Then we had to wait until it was our turn on stage- youth, seniors, men, and then finally women. Not only do women go last, but it’s alphabetical and my last name starts with a T. I was 68th to go on out of 73 total competitors. I took class at 7:45 am and then didn’t compete until 5:30 pm! That’s a long time to be physically and mentally yoga-ready!
Most of the day I spent in a hallway hanging out and stretching with fellow competitors since watching the competition stressed me out too much. The hanging out part was fun, but the mental stress was intense! I would warm up, hang out, and then warm up again. While in the hallway my husband, friends, and parents came in! They all traveled over 3 hours out of town to cheer me on for 3 minutes!! I saw my friends had signs with them. SIGNS WITH MY NAME AND FACE ON THEM! My first reaction was panic but then I felt pretty freaking cool! I had fans…. with SIGNS! Later on I realized along with the signs they made SHIRTS with my face on them (don’t worry, they photo shopped my face to make it perfect- I can always rely on my friends to make me look good). I definitely won the award for best fans that day!
The last 30 minutes before show time was intense! Part of that time I was in child’s pose just listening to music trying to calm my nerves. The other part was trying to warm my body up in a cool hallway. When it was time to go I felt like I was on autopilot (thanks to my coach for training!). I walked on stage, bowed, did my thing, and walked off stage. It was like I wasn’t controlling myself, the only think in my head was to breathe and to slow my pounding heart. I bowed at the end of my routine and looked out at everyone cheering me on, my parents, my husband, my friends, my yoga teachers, strangers, everyone in the room was cheering for me! That was the most amazing feeling. It made all of the blood, sweat, and tears completely worth it.
I got on a stage in a leotard and showed everyone my practice. You don’t know me, but I’m not an attention seeker. For example, on my wedding day walking down the aisle while people stare me was SUPER SCARY. Yoga in a leotard was a whole new level. Evidently I seemed completely calm and cool on stage. I even fooled my friends and family- they thought I wasn’t nervous at all. I attribute my cool exterior to teaching high school kids every day. In the end I met my goal of not falling out of any postures. There are obviously things I’d like to do better but really- I’m happy with that happened.
The scores, the postures, the ranking don’t matter. It’s all about sharing our practice with the world! That’s the part of yoga competition that people don’t understand- by getting on that stage we ALL win!