Yoga Competition Time!

I was super excited to come across an article recently in the Huffington Post talking about yoga competitions. You might know that Nationals is just around the corner (March 14th-16th). This article touched a bit on Nationals, and the upcoming World Yoga Sports Championship (see FB page too).

What was exciting for me was reading the interviews with Joseph Encinia, Gianna Purcell, and Alankane D’Quebec. And while all three interviews are truly inspiring, I suggest reading Alankane’s if you read only one. He’s 13 years old and from California. It’s really amazing and beautiful to hear a young man be so articulate and thoughtful about his yoga practice.

who inspires you

In reading Alankane’s interview, I was struck by how much we can inspire others just by doing what we do every day. It’s not a matter of trying to inspire. It’s not a matter of trying to figure out how to get people to do something different with their lives. It’s about living our lives wholly, openly, and honestly. And in doing so, we have the power to move and shape the lives of other positively.

Who has inspired you? What were you moved to do differently?

Advanced is Back

Whew! Guess what time it is? Time to get my behind back into advanced. The last time I took advanced was in August with Emmy at the women’s retreat. We have a new teacher at our studio who is leading the advanced class. She is super fantastic, and in one class I have already learned several new things.

Let me just say this though….I hadn’t done advanced in what? Five, six months? The postures came back to me. Even if I couldn’t do them, I could remember what they were. But I have to tell you,. about an hour into it I was already sore. And tired. And hungry. I left at about the two hour mark and people were still working through the series.

I had taken the beginning  class beforehand, but I didn’t go all out. I gave about 75% effort and reserved a little for advanced. I’m glad I did because otherwise I would have been even more exhausted! I came home with sore hamstrings and took about a two hour nap. I went right down on the couch – lights out! When I woke up I felt even stiffer and struggled to get up and down the stairs a bit.

I had no major posture breakthroughs. I left with a better understanding of crow. I know I need to get in the habit of keeping my gaze forward. I always want to look down. Specifically, I want to look back to see what my legs and feet are doing. But, as my teacher pointed out, my legs and feet will always be behind me. If I look backwards I’m going down.

I learned a little bit more about leg-breaking. Here I learned that I really need to work on getting my hips open so I can get into the posture. I am soooo close on my left side, and my left hip is definitely more open than my right.

So close.

So close.

In tree pose I can sometimes get my left knee (when raised up) to align with my right knee on my standing leg. I have to look in the mirror to get this to happen which often causes me to lose my balance and fall over, but that’s ok. I use the mirror to push myself and work on my alignment here.

So I’ve got some work to do (as usual), but I’m excited to get back into it. I had a nice break between the competition in November and now. I am not committing to any postures for competition at this time, and I don’t have any major goals for the moment. I do want to work on getting my hips more open, and I’ll be doing some stretches to help with that. But for now, I’m committed to going to advanced each week and giving the postures some time to evolve. Let’s just see what happens when I give things some time and take it from there.

Advanced is Back

Whew! Guess what time it is? Time to get my behind back into advanced. The last time I took advanced was in August with Emmy at the women’s retreat. We have a new teacher at our studio who is leading the advanced class. She is super fantastic, and in one class I have already learned several new things.

Let me just say this though….I hadn’t done advanced in what? Five, six months? The postures came back to me. Even if I couldn’t do them, I could remember what they were. But I have to tell you,. about an hour into it I was already sore. And tired. And hungry. I left at about the two hour mark and people were still working through the series.

I had taken the beginning  class beforehand, but I didn’t go all out. I gave about 75% effort and reserved a little for advanced. I’m glad I did because otherwise I would have been even more exhausted! I came home with sore hamstrings and took about a two hour nap. I went right down on the couch – lights out! When I woke up I felt even stiffer and struggled to get up and down the stairs a bit.

I had no major posture breakthroughs. I left with a better understanding of crow. I know I need to get in the habit of keeping my gaze forward. I always want to look down. Specifically, I want to look back to see what my legs and feet are doing. But, as my teacher pointed out, my legs and feet will always be behind me. If I look backwards I’m going down.

I learned a little bit more about leg-breaking. Here I learned that I really need to work on getting my hips open so I can get into the posture. I am soooo close on my left side, and my left hip is definitely more open than my right.

So close.

So close.

In tree pose I can sometimes get my left knee (when raised up) to align with my right knee on my standing leg. I have to look in the mirror to get this to happen which often causes me to lose my balance and fall over, but that’s ok. I use the mirror to push myself and work on my alignment here.

So I’ve got some work to do (as usual), but I’m excited to get back into it. I had a nice break between the competition in November and now. I am not committing to any postures for competition at this time, and I don’t have any major goals for the moment. I do want to work on getting my hips more open, and I’ll be doing some stretches to help with that. But for now, I’m committed to going to advanced each week and giving the postures some time to evolve. Let’s just see what happens when I give things some time and take it from there.

Lifting Lotus Suprise

It’s been awhile since I’ve done lifting lotus. November, in the competition, to be exact. Since then I just stopped working on it. Gave myself a little lifting lotus break and kinda forgot all about it.

To prepare/improve my lifting lotus, I had bought a couple kinds of gadgets. First, I had a Captains of Crush hand gripper to improve my grip strength. I also had a Grip Master to improve my finger strength. Both worked well.

Now, have I been using either of these tools since November? Of course not.

Here I go expecting things again.

Here I go expecting things again.

But for some reason, I got it in my head the other day that I needed to give lifting lotus a try before class. I started off by making a handful of assumptions about myself. Basically:

  • Don’t expect to lift up much or at all because I haven’t done any work on it
  • If I do lift up, expect it to be one of those crazy lifts were one side goes up really high while the other half drags on the ground.

But whatever. I just needed to do it.

For competition, I didn’t go up on my fingertips. I lifted up on my palms. This is because I had no confidence in my ability to do one well enough if I lifted off of my fingertips. I just wasn’t demonstrating consistency doing so before the competition. And for competition you can still get points if you go up on your palms – just not the full amount. I was fine with that.

But I forgot all about the fingertips/palm thing when I set up and went into it. I went up on my fingertips without even thinking about it. And you know what? I went up.

Holy crap. I went right up. And then, I held it and counted to seven. I smiled at myself in the mirror around count five. By the time I reached seven my fingers hurt so I set myself back down.

And all I have to say is this:

Where the heck did that come from and how can I get it to come back every single time?

Nationals Are Just Around the Corner

Nationals are coming in March. I’m not going, but I did get an email about how they are running the event. I found it interesting and wanted to share.

In the past, the top two men and top two women from each state have gone on to nationals. That’s changing this year, and I kinda like it.

Here’s how I understand the changes:

  • The first place male and female from each state will get to compete at nationals
  • The rest of us who competed at any regional event are all being ranked based on our final score. The top 50 men and top 50 women from this list will get to go to nationals

What do you think about this?

Go watch people do fancy yoga postures. Then go do one yourself!

Go watch people do fancy yoga postures. Then go do one yourself!

I said I liked it, but also recall I said I wasn’t going. You can try to find me on the current score sheet, but let me save you the time and just tell you I am currently ranked 150th nationally. I am confident, CONFIDENT, this ranking can only improve in future competitions. I’m being funny here, but how could I not think it couldn’t go up?

On the other hand, I don’t know if I care if it goes up. I need to just focus on my own postures and what not. I think I’ll just be happy that I am ranked nationally at something. That is just kinda cool.

Anyways, I like how they’ve changed it because it shakes things up a bit. It also gives more room for different kinds of competitors to go. The first two from NC were the same first two from last year (they just swapped places in the line-up, but both will be invited to go to nationals). They will probably be the same first two next year or at the very least in the top three.

I think they deserve to go to nationals, but I also think it’s great to think about how we rank overall and invite people from there. The top 50 men and women have to go through a pre-qualifier on a Friday night. They will select the top 10-15 men and women to go to the semi-finals on Saturday. The exact number depends on how many first place competitors they have entered. It’s a little wishy-washy, but in a good way. They are trying to make some tweaks and give a little wiggle room.

They still have regionals going through February so they can’t be totally sure what the final ranking is, but they that once you are invited you are invited. People do have to make plans, buy plane tickets, etc…

Here’s my word of advice for USA Yoga: In doing these competitions, I think they need to establish a clear boundary for when competitions should be held each year. For example, if they are going to have nationals in March, then maybe regionals need to be done by February 1st or January 15th. I don’t know what a reasonable date it – but I think some sort of start and cut-off needs to be established. This will help smooth out the other end of things in terms of who gets invited to nationals.

What do you think about the changes?

 

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And Then There Was Video

I’ve got the official video of my competition routine. Given that I lost all sense of space and time, I am pleased to say that I came in at 2:55. I am happy with that timing! Turns out that was my exact time from last year. How funny is that?

Please feel free to view it and offer any comments or feedback you see fit. I am very happy with my rabbit, and I definitely think there is improvement in floor bow. I have pulled up my video from last year. I made excellent use of the fact that I have two monitors in my office. I stopped each video when I got into floor bow and then compared. I swear I am kicking up higher this year than last and have more of a tear drop shape (but a long way to go!). Once I did this comparison with floor bow I, of course, had to continue on with the rest of the routine.

I concluded that rabbit looks about the same. Stretching is soooo much better this year. Look at where my elbows are in Year 2 compared to Year 1! I have no idea where that came from. It just came out of nowhere during competition. A regular day of stretching does not look like it did on stage this year. Upward stretching is beyond better this year. It was a disaster last year because I was so scared. I dropped my legs because they were shaking so much. This year I did not fall out AND I held it for nearly 10 seconds. Super proud of that. Can”t believe I was so down on myself the other day.

Of course there is continued room for improvement so be looking for future discussions about that. But for now, I am pleased with the progress I have made. I also like to remind myself that I made this progress while: (a) going through a divorce, (b) selling a house, (c) living in an extended-stay place, and (d) dealing with the building of a new home which is still being built as I write this. Additionally, I did less training from June-Novemeber of this year than I did last year due to all of these circumstances. In fact, I almost chose not to compete because I knew I would not train to the extent that I would have preferred.

But you know what? I did what I could do within the space that I had. I learned to accept limitations and work within them. I learned to be happy with giving everything I had to give even if I wanted to give more.

The End of the Line

I was having a bad day on Tuesday. First, I was still exhausted from Sunday’s competition. What is it about competition that is so draining? It must be the emotional/mental aspect of it because physcially it is not that taxing. Taking one 90 minute Bikram class and doing my routine one time over the course of a day is not physically demanding. On Monday, I was tired but hauled myself into a 9:00 am class as it was my only chance to do so. Then I went to work and taught an evening class putting me home around 8:00 pm. On Tuesday, I got up at 6:30am to drive back into Chapel Hill and teach a 9:00 class.

Oh how I just wanted to sleep. I must have slept on my neck wrong too because when I woke up on Monday there was a kink in it. On Tuesday morning it was just worse.

I was still not feeling positive about my performance on Sunday. A friend had video of it, but I was not in the mood to watch it Sunday evening. Then, Tuesday afternoon, I logged on to our FB group for my studio’s competitors and saw news I did not need.

Our studio owner had been given the ranking of each participant and had posted them. She didn’t have the scores. The ranking was enough for me. There were 20 females who competed. Anyone want to take a guess where I ranked? Anyone?

18.

My heart sank. Now, I know the whole point of competition is (at least for me) all about self-improvement. But I was having a bad day. I was drained on every level. I didn’t need to know that I probably didn’t rank that much higher than last year (note: I never asked where I placed last year. I didn’t want that running around in my head).

I went to class that afternoon and about had a mini-break down during savassanah. As I lay there I thought:

What business do I actually have being up there on that stage doing these postures? I’m no better off this year than I was last year. Seriosuly – 18th place???? Out of 20???? That is totally horrible. I didn’t think I did that bad. God, I did worse than I even knew. I have almost zero ability to realize what my actual performance looks like. Why do I even think getting on that stage is a good idea? Coming in at the end like that is soooo embarrassing. I should think about quitting.

Real thoughts people. Real thoughts.

So that evening I sucked it up and asked to look at the video my friend took. I didn’t get a copy of it for myself. It’s not the best quality for sharing. I’ll share the official one – which I assume will be of high quality – when I get it.

As I watched that video I realized something – 18th place is not what it seems. And do you know why?

18th place is based on total number of points scored. I didn’t do SH2K which means I lost 10 points outright. I did my lifting lotus twice which, in retrospect, was not the best decision. It’s only worth 6 points. I did it once, was not happy with it, and attempted it again. When you do a second attempt at a posture you can only get half the points. So I was down almost 16 points to start with.

But do you know what I saw when I looked at everything from standing bow through the end? I saw so much improvement over last year! I saw that my floor bow, while still in somewhat of a man-bow state, was getting better. I saw that I got down in standing bow. Of course I saw things to work on, but I also understood that being in 18th place was nothing to throw a fit about. It was not a reason to pack it in. I was so much calmer this year than last. I moved between postures so much better and slower.

I got it. Ok. I’m ranking down near the end of the line, but it’s really not a bad place to be.

 

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