Joseph visits the Arnold

From injury to competition


It all started with a running injury. Jennifer Vanderhart had pulled her groin muscle as she neared the finish line. But for Jennifer, recovery wasn't a race; she felt like it was taking too long, and two months in she decided to take a yoga class at her local gym.
 
Jennifer didn't love yoga immediately. In fact, she thought her first class was boring. It wasn't until another two months had passed and she tried yoga again, this time at a different studio. She still wasn't convinced, but Jennifer kept up with her yoga practice. A year and a half later she was competing.
 
For Jennifer, competing gives her extra incentive to work on her postures, and it has helped her approach her practice with a more detail-oriented focus.
 
Best of all, Jennifer enjoys competing because it has led to her meeting an array of people, and she loves working with other competitors and would-be competitors.
 
Jennifer says that from her own experience, the best advice she can give her fellow competitors is not to "train" at a specific point in time before competition but rather to practice mindfully and consistently. Your practice is your training.  Although she tries to practice every day, Jenifer admits that it can be difficult. However, she makes the most of her classes by picking a few postures to practice after each class, no matter how tired she may be.
 
For her fellow competitors, Jennifer says, "Competition day is such a rush!  Try to enjoy the day, the people, the heightened awareness and energy.  Maybe this year you hit everything perfectly.  Maybe that's for next year.  It's a long yoga life."
 
A long yoga life indeed, where injury and setbacks can lead to competition and success.

Taking It Slow

Joseph Collins' yoga competition journey has been about taking his time and hoping that he can someday share what he is learning with others in the classroom. As he explains, "I have my whole life ahead of me."

Joseph started competing in fall, 2015 at the Regional Asana Championships in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

While his yoga journey has been long, Joseph considers himself to be at the beginning. His attitude towards competing has been to see himself as his only competitor, and competing only against himself has benefitted his personal growth and self-confidence.

Joseph maintains his focus throughout training, but he is especially committed in the final stretch before competition to visualizing himself in his postures, allowing him to take stock of each detail of each pose.

In addition to this meditation, Joseph makes sure to eat healthfully and get enough sleep. Finally, he practices his routine multiple times a day, and he takes between seven and ten yoga classes each week.  

Despite practicing more mindful intentions, Joseph admits that savasana drives him crazy. But the posture he lives for is standing head to knee. As Joseph promised himself, "one day I will slay that posture."

Overall, Joseph is excited to compete because it allows him to be a part of something greater than himself and keep learning something new in the life that he sees as a gift.

Consistency

Lucy Homiller’s Athlete Advice: Consistency
 
For Lucy Homiller, year-round consistency is key to her competition training. She practices a beginning yoga class every day and advanced classes twice a week. In addition to her classwork, Lucy follows a routine outside of class, including homework from her yoga teachers, and additional practice postures and drills.
 
With the encouragement of the teachers at the yoga studio where she practices in Richmond, Virginia, Lucy first began competing during November 2013 at the Mid-Atlantic Regionals. Lucy was also inspired by the other yogis she knew who competed, and now she passes along the excitement of competition to others at her studio with another facet of her competition training—practicing her routine after the beginner’s class for anyone who wants to stay and watch.
 
In fact, performing her routine in front of others on a regular basis is, according to Lucy, the best training advice she’s every received. As she explains, “Practice your routine immediately after class, in front of as many people as you can, and on the teacher’s podium, if possible. It is almost impossible to duplicate the feeling of demonstrating your routine on stage (the nerves, the cold, the lights, the eyes upon you), but doing it after class is the closest I’ve come. You’re tired, you don’t want to do it, you’ll fall, you get frustrated, but these are all real circumstances that could arise on stage at any time and it’s so important to learn how to work through them before you’re actually on stage.”
 
Practicing her routine in front of an audience on a regular basis certainly helps Lucy with the posture that she considers “no easy feat”: standing head to knee. Lucy considers the posture difficult because it opens her routine and can set the tone for the rest of her postures. However, once she makes it through standing head to knee, she feels relieved and ready to take on the next posture.







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My Senior Moment: A Yoga Competition Journey (Part 2) )

Part 2: My Senior Moment: My First Competition(s)


How can I describe the excitement and joy as well as the calm and self-realization of being on stage? I was excited for my first competition, but I was not nervous. I asked myself why. I realized that I was looking forward to showing the world what I could do with my body and mind and soul as a 55-year old “senior.”


Arriving at the competition venue with my crew from Pure Om Fairfax, I wondered what the day would entail. I soon learned that it was all about supporting your fellow competitors. Everyone I met that day was so positive and encouraging. Competition is not a “me versus you” thing; it is about encouraging your friends to do their best. I went to competition with friends from my studio, and I left with new friends from all over the Mid-Atlantic Region.

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My Senior Moment: A Yoga Competition Journey (Part 1)

My Senior Moment: A Yoga Competition Journey (Part 1)

In 2014, I had been practicing Bikram yoga regularly for a few years. At age 54, I was seeing progress. My asanas were improving slowly and surely, and I was really feeling the benefits of a regular practice. The benefits were not just physical, but mental and spiritual as well. Plus, I was truly enjoying the yoga community I found at my studio, Pure Om Fairfax.

The Mid-Atlantic Regional competition was coming up in January 2015. I saw some signs up in the studio for USA Yoga competition training, but gave them little notice. After all, wasn’t I well past the age of sport competition?

One evening I was chatting with a fellow “senior” yogi, and she said she was competing. I wanted to learn more. I did not know that age 50 plus had a separate competition division. I decided to attend the regional competition…just to observe.

I ended up spending the entire afternoon enjoying the competition. I was inspired! I thought, “I can do this!” I wanted to participate and resolved to join the competition training for the following year.  Fall 2015, I joined our competition team, one of two seniors.

Did I feel a bit overwhelmed, a bit intimidated? At first, yes, but as we practiced together, and sweated, and refined our routines, and encouraged each other, I forged new friendships, new confidence, new calm. I started to realize that competition is not about ego. Rather, it is about trusting yourself.

Would my competition routine be perfect? No, but it would be perfect for me. At age 55, I was preparing to show the world what I could do, with the body and mind and spirit of a senior yogi. As I readied my routine for the regional competition in February 2016, I found a new sense of calm and acceptance (along with a few pre-event jitters). I couldn’t wait to take the stage!

Yoga and Competition

Two words that are rarely used in the same sentence are competition and yoga. My name is Michael Fine and last February I competed (or as I prefer to say demonstrated and shared my love of yoga) in the 2016 Midwest Regional Asana Championships, which I am proud to say was hosted by my home yoga school and sanctuary, Bikram Yoga North Shore, in Glenview, a suburb of Chicago. As a diehard yogi with a six year almost daily practice, my reasons for entering the Regional Championships were likely different than most of the other participants. You see, I entered the championships not with the goal of winning, but rather with the sole objective of inspiring and changing the minds of all of those people who believed that they couldn’t practice yoga for reasons many of you have likely heard time and time again: “I am too old, too fat, too inflexible, too sick, allergic to heat, blah, blah, blah.” My ultimate hope was that once inspired, these people would be empowered to do what the human body, mind and spirit were designed to do; that is, to heal!

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Interview with Scott Marin

An Interview with Scott Marin, USA Yoga Senior Men’s Champion 2015 & 2016

 

  • What got you started practicing yoga?  About 15 years ago and before I started doing yoga, I developed pretty sore knees and hips from decades of running. My wife, Karen, had been doing yoga at a fitness center, and she invited me to attend a class. I found hatha yoga to be a great fitness program, and my joints improved. 

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Joseph visits the Arnold

USA Yoga Board President, Joseph Encinia visits The Arnold

Joseph Encinia, our intrepid board president, visited Columbus, Ohio earlier this month. Joseph took a whirlwind tour to look over the venue for our first East Coast Super Regional, and to promote the upcoming event. His visit included several workshops at local studios and a television interview. Joseph also met with the organizers of the Arnold Sports Games and wowed them with his Nali technique. We are so excited about our collaboration with this prestigious international event. I would like to thank Jayn and Craig Mayton, our Arnold co-organizers for introducing USA Yoga to The Arnold Sports Games.