In November of 2015 I competed in the USA Yoga Federation's California Asana Championships. I decided to compete because I've been compelled to share my story. I believe that yoga allows people to do that, with their bodies.
Competitors don't compete with one another in the Asana Championship. They compete only with themselves. The training leading up to the competition was my own body against my own mind, and the day I brought my routine to stage, it was the same.
Some of the postures I performed on stage were required for my division, while others were chosen by me. You don't know what is going to happen the day you get on stage. You might fall out of a posture. You might forget a posture, and actually skip right over it, even after months of training (I did). This is where I learn to release attachments to results. To expect nothing, and accept what comes with open arms.
Training for competition has taught me the value of patience and becoming open to new teachings in postures that I've done for years. We took the postures that I've practised for years, put them into a routine, and then I practised them as if I have never practised them before.
I would go through the routine time and time again, and each time, my coach would point out something about the posture that I had not realized. “Your wrist is bending. You're collapsing into your lower spine. Tighten your grip. Lift up through your chest. Are you breathing?” Although I was training for an asana competition, all limbs of yoga come into play. I had to connect my mind to my body to make these adjustments, and my breath with my movements.
I learned so much more about postures that I thought I knew everything about. This involved releasing my ego. I'm always a student. I'm always learning more about postures, about my body, and about my mind. There's always more to learn about a posture. There's always someone who knows something about a posture that you haven't yet grasped fully.
Competition taught me to make every move meaningful and mindful. My coach constantly reminded us that our movements are like a sword. Each movement should serve a purpose and have intent behind it. I have since applied this to my daily practice, off the stage. I also have learned to apply this in my daily life. I try to make every move I make, and every word I say have intent, while I simultaneously release any attachments or expectations to results. I look forward to competing in USA Yoga Nationals this year!
I'm grateful for my coaches Michele Vennard and Cynthia Wehr for guiding me through this process of great attention and humility.
Robin Fox, CA Youth Division Champion @bikram_yogi
Photographer: Elise Hu @balanced.yogi
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