Ida and I have decided to compete in January. It is two months away. We have never been "competitors," especially not in yoga, and it has taken some time to wrap our minds around the idea of mixing yoga and competition.
A lot of people say that competing is against the greater goals of yoga; that competing is about winning, looking good and conquering your adversaries while yoga is about self-exploration, compassion and unity of self and community. I suppose all of those things are true.
I am not competing to win. I don't expect to win, and I have no intention of shifting all of my energy and focus toward physical perfection and presentation. If the past year has taught me anything it is that my own practice is different than everyone else's, and it is my responsibility to honor that uniqueness; to follow my own path.
Already, though, the renewed attention on postural details - the locked knee in Standing Head to Knee, the teardrop shape in Bow, and trying to touch the head to the toes in Stretching - has revealed new depth and focus to my practice.
I have heard other yoga competitors say that competition is not about winning but about doing your best. I am finding that to be true. Since physical, mental and spiritual progress take years, it is impossible to force your way into good postures. And since the actual competition only allows 3 minutes per contestant, it becomes simply a display of your current abilities. For better or worse. There is no time to "go deeply" into the postures, only enough time to come to a comfortable place and then move on.
As I prepare mentally for the stress of performing 7 postures, I realize that I have no choice but to be where I am. I can practice and prepare, I can progress, but that is no different from any other day of practice.
I am excited and empowered by the idea of getting up in front of a crowd of people and simply exhibiting my ability. I may fall, I may wobble, I may be tight, but that doesn't seem to be the point. The point is that I find the confidence to do it.
This journal honors my ongoing experience with the practice, study and teaching of yoga.
1) Sridaiva Yoga: Good Intention But Imbalanced
2) Understanding Chair Posture
2) Why I Don't Use Sanskrit or Say Namaste
3) The Meaningless Drudgery of Physical Yoga
5) Beyond Bikram: Why This Is a Great Time For Ghosh Yoga