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?







Are You Watching?

Are you watching the USA Yoga national competition today? I’ve been in and out of it. I scheduled a facial right in the middle of the day. I got to watch some of the men’s and have been watching some of the women’s. It’s amazing.

When I tuned in to the men’s around noon a lot of them were falling out of their postures. Someone made a comment on the chat feed about why these guys were falling out. Someone else pointed out it was likely nerves. Another person pointed out that even though these guys were falling out, they were all getting back into the posture for a second try. No one was packing it in and giving up. Everyone kept going.

I was impressed by how these guys kept going even when they fell out. Each time they got to a new posture I felt like they were giving it their all and had not given up even if it was clear that their stumbles meant they would not qualify for the next round. I could also relate to the nerves issue. I was terrified being up on stage in front of 100 people and it definitely showed. Of course no one else seems to remember how nervous I was, but I remember. I was inside out bones to skin shaking! 🙂

Everyone who got up on that stage was good. Otherwise they would not be on that stage. While they are all judged on their postures, it’s not only about the postures. The postures can inspire us and show us what the human body can do. I also learned a few things about my own practice by watching. However, I also learned a lot about poise and persistance by watching how competitors responded when they stumbled. I respect them so much for the focus and dedication they gave to each and every posture no matter what the one before it may have looked liked. They helped remind me of the importance of being in the moment and, when the moment is over, letting it go and being in the next.

Joseph’s Tip #4: Do Your Routine!

Routine’s are (obviously) a critical part of the competition, and that’s where Joseph’s advice for today centers. Joseph says:

Do your routine at least 3 times a day two months prior to the championship.

Excellent advice. I couldn’t agree more. Let’s talk a bit about routines, practicing them, and performing them.

First, I would add (and I think Joseph would agree, but he’s only got 140 characters to work with in his tips) that watching routines is also a very important part of this process. By watching, you can see how people flow from one posture to the next. You can also see what postures looks like and get ideas about how to improve your own postures.

You can see the performances of champions like Joseph over at USA Yoga. These are obviously excellent and amazing routines. I use them to tweak the core five (head to knee, standing bow, etc…) that we all have to do and get ideas for what I might work on in those postures. You can also use them to get ideas about what advanced postures you might do or to see how they perform an advanced posture you are working on.

Don’t let the champions’ videos intimadate you. You don’t have to look like that now, next week, or ever. Use them as a learning tool. Use them for inspiration.

You can also watch videos from the first North Carolina regional competition. This isn’t everyone. It’s just people from my studio. Most of us were pretty inexperienced when we decided to compete. We didn’t know how to select an advanced posture. We were changing postures at the last minute because what we had hoped would work out wasn’t working out. I include these videos because they are not perfect. We fall out of postures. We make mistakes, but we did this. So can you.

If you don’t want to feel intimadated about competing watch my video. You’ll probably think, “I can do better than that!” and this will help you gain confidence. You can see all kinds of mess going on in my routine. My favorite is how I held head to knee for a second but it somehow felt like a minute. I was terrified. I also fell out of standing bow. It just happened.

Which brings me back to Joseph’s tip. Practice, practice, practice. Practice your routine! It’s so critical to get it down so that it’s pretty automated. You want to be able to move through it as seamlessly as possible, and the only way to do that is to practice it a lot. Actually, three times a day for two months (at a minimum) doesn’t require that much time. A routine cannot be more than three minutes. Assuming you took a break between each set, you might spend 20-30 minutes on it if you did it 3-5 times.

Another reason why Joseph’s tip is great is because you will be nervous if you have not competed before. I was told this, but I did not believe it. I expected a minimal amount of nerves to kick in. But I figured that since I have a lot of public speaking experience I would be able to handle it. I enjoy speaking to a room full of people. I’ve spoken to as many as 200 at once and had a great time.

Well, speaking to 200 people with all my clothes on is not the same as being half-naked and doing yoga postures in front of 100 people. For me, public speaking experience did not transfer to publicly perfoming yoga postures. I fell out of upward stretching because my legs were shaking so hard I couldn’t hold them up. I literally lost all control.

Did I practice like Joseph recommended? Eh….no. I did practice my routine, but I could have benefited from a more focused practice like he recommends. Will I do it this year? You bet.

And if all of this sounds like work (it is) and a bit scary (it was for me, it may or may not be for you), then consider my take on the whole yoga competition thing:

I didn’t compete to win. I didn’t compete to place. The last thing I wanted to do was end up on a stage in New York. I competed to challenge myself and push the boundaries of who I thought I was, and what I thought I could do. It was difficult and scary in different ways throughout the process, but I succeeded in what I wanted to do. I didn’t win. I didn’t have to go to New York. I did however, grow personally, professionally (this stuff seems to bleed over into my work life), mentally, and physically. Doing things that scare me is generally good for me.

What are your thoughts on competing? If you do compete, how do you approach practicing your routine as the day draws near?