Challenge and Sweat

Bruce Merkle

I remember going into my first yoga class. My voice teacher recommended it, saying she loved sweating with a bunch of other people. I knew the feeling. I had been a dancer since I was thirteen and had sweat with bunches of people before. I remember my first dance class and everyone marveling at how I could go into the center splits without ever having attempting them before. I found out later I’m hyper mobile, a genetic precondition that makes me appear to be one of Gumby’s relatives.

Once I had gotten into a regular yoga practice at the Bikram Yoga World Headquarters In Los Angeles, Rajashree Choudhury told me in the middle of a class that I should compete. I was sweating and disoriented and didn’t know what a yoga competition was, but I like a challenge. I looked into it and a few months later I was on a stage attempting to utilize my peace and calmness while balancing on one foot in front of a large group of new teachers. Not the easiest thing to be okay with. Once I was comfortable with the competition format I kept wanting to go back and get better.

I compete now to further my practice. I love working on a pose and a flow and performing it for new eyes. My performing background has taught me how to be comfortable telling my story in a new way, with yoga. In my routines I hope to tell the audience the story of who I am and where my capabilities are in that moment.

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