A couple of months earlier I wrote about my decision to enter into the Illinois Regional Asana Yoga Competition. And after a 9 hour hair-raising ride through a blizzard this past weekend I can finally check this experience off of the bucket list. I was joking with my husband I wasn’t sure what was more intense – training for competition or the drive there, but as we headed down to Clarksville, Indiana, I knew that no matter what happened when I hit the stage the lessons I had learned while preparing for competition were the big prize in the end, not the end result.
It is because of what I learned while training that my wish and hope is to get more people involved in competing. There are so many practitioners that I work with or teach that have a practice far more evolved than mine, but when asked if they would ever participate the answer seemed to always be that they didn’t think their practice was perfect or good enough. Which seemed funny to me, as we all know that no one’s practice is perfect, but is a lifelong journey to self-realization, love and acceptance.
With that said, I wanted to share with all of you what I learned while training to compete and express to you how deeply fulfilling the experience can be if you open yourself up to it.
1. It will take the white noise out of your practice. If you have been practicing for a long time you have probably developed some habits along the way. When you decide to compete you begin to realize what habits you need to release in order grow. You begin to contemplate your stillness within the postures as well as in between each posture. Falling out of Bow Pulling Pose because you feel a little fatigued is no longer an option. You have to learn how to stick it. Any “fuzziness” you have in your practice has to be turned into laser focus and concentration.
2. You have more people in your corner than you ever dreamed about. The amount of support I received from fellow teachers, students, my family and close friends was nothing short of overwhelming. The texts, phone calls, and Facebook messages that came my way from everyone had me on the verge of happy tears the entire week leading up to competition. The discussions I had in the months leading up to the big day offered me fresh perspective on my practice and how much one person’s practice can effect and inspire the people around them.
3. You have to sometimes let things go. When I started training I had a completely different set of advanced optionals than I ended up with. (You have to perform 2 postures from the Advanced Series). I was determined to achieve Peacock Pose. But after months of work and contemplation and holy cow I am so close, but not close enough, I had to let it go and work on something that was achievable within the time frame I had. Peacock Pose will happen for me, but you can never force a posture. You work to achieve it and it will happen when the body, mind, and spirit are ready.
4. Setting a date for when you want to get something completed is never a bad thing. Having a specific date out there for when I needed to accomplish certain goals gave my practice a huge boost. I am closer than ever before to locking out in Standing Bow Pulling Pose, I have a newfound stillness in Standing Head to Knee, and an inner knowing of the work I need to do to continue growing as a yoga practitioner. If you are goal oriented (and let’s face it most Bikram Yogis are) competition is for you.
5. You will have a newfound appreciation for the Beginner’s Series. Many people assume that when you are training the main focus will be on the 5 required postures – Standing Head to Knee, Standing Bow Pulling, Bow, Rabbit, and Stretching – and the Advanced Series. But in order to progress in any of these postures or even consider doing a posture from the Advanced Series you have to continue focusing on the core 26 postures in the Bikram Beginner’s Series. All of these postures work in conjunction with one another to give you the strength, determination, focus, flexibility, and balance required to compete with confidence.
So if you are even somewhat interested in competing in 2015 I hope you look into it. There are so many benefits to the entire process. You will learn about yourself, your practice, and achieve more than you ever believed possible.
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