Champions

CHAMPIONS PRESENT AND PAST

 

Briana Bernal 2016 USA Yoga Adult Division Gold Medal Winner

 

Yoga heals.  I originally started practicing yoga due to a back injury. Years of heavy weightlifting with little regard for form led to an L5/S1 disc herniation in 2005.The pain was excruciating, as was the emotional toll. I took medication, did some physical therapy, and went right back to lifting. After re-injuring it in 2007 I heard that yoga was restorative, so I decided to try it out. I practiced a vinyasa flow for almost two years before attending my first Bikram Yoga class in 2010. It was hard and I didn’t think I was going to make it.  After class, however, I felt amazing. Over time, my spine started to heal and my mind started to clear.

Early in my yoga practice, I learned about yoga competition and was intrigued. Since then, I have competed in three New York State Regional, two Texas Regional, and two National Championships. Perhaps the greatest lesson I have learned through competitive yoga is the ability to maintain a mind-body connection in the face of multiple challenges—judges, spectators, time constraints, etc. Yoga Asana truly becomes the present moment.

John Schoggins 2015 and 2016 USA Yoga Adult Division Gold Medal Winner

 Catherine McCauley 2016 USA Yoga Senior Division Gold Medal Winner

I found Bikram yoga about 10 years ago.  At that time, I had been running a lot and couldn't get beyond some knee pain.  Eventually, yoga became my primary sport.  Bikram Yoga North Texas (Grapevine) became a haven for me - it was a safe, loving, encouraging environment, and with yoga, I began to appreciate and respect myself and my body more.  I competed for the first time in 2008. I loved the focus and deepening of my practice, but wasn't crazy about the nerves, anxiety, and fears!

I've asked myself many times - Why compete?  Today, it is because it challenges me in so many ways.   Yoga, and competitive yoga, magnifies all my insecurities.  In so doing, I'm forced to rely on something greater to keep me centered, focused, and in gratitude.   I open my heart and mind to the possibilities.   I do the work I know to do, turn it over, and trust that whatever the outcome, it will be exactly what I need and I will grow from it.   

Yoga has been a great pathway for me to learn acceptance of today, to appreciate this gift of body, mind, and spirit, and know that if I keep my heart and mind open, I can grow.    I get to do that with yogis of all ages, cultures, sexes, shapes and sizes; we may be very different on the outside, but so similar on the inside.   It's amazing and beautiful and there's always something to learn, so I keep coming back!

I began practicing yoga in Texas in 2005. Years of long-distance running had taken a toll on my knees and yoga helped to re-align sore joints and heal my knees. Bikram Yoga Richardson became my home studio in 2007 where studio director, Yassi Maige, and the other teachers, inspired me to do several 60-day challenges. My business travels often take me to Asia, Europe, and various North American cities. I have had the pleasure of practicing at yoga studios in the US, Canada, China, India, Thailand, and South Korea. Having retired from most running, but missing the annual training for the fall Dallas running season, I felt the need to step up my physical activity. Yassi suggested that I train for the 2010 Texas Asana Championships. Training for the competition was a mix of fun, stress, and outstanding yoga. Each year since, I have competed in the Texas Regional competition. I was invited to compete at the 2015 USA National competition in the senior men’s division and won after almost being cut in the pre-qualifier round.
    In 2016, my wife Karen, and I helped Yassi host the Texas Regional competition at her studios, Bikram Yoga Richardson/Allen. We gained an appreciation for the work and effort that goes into organizing a yoga competition. I also trained again and placed first in the Senior Male Division at the Texas Regional competition and went on to place first at the 2016 US National championship. At nationals, I attended the judge’s clinic in anticipation of the day when competition, but not necessarily training, would pass to others.


Scott Marin 2015 and 2016 USA Yoga Senior Division Gold Medal Winner


Annie Yanofsky 2015 USA Yoga Youth Division Gold Medal Winner

I began practicing Yoga when I was 11 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. As a former gymnast, I was looking for a way to maintain my strength and flexibility in a more calming environment. I competed in my first competition at the New England Regional Yoga Asana Championship in 2013, placing first in the New Hampshire girl's division. I competed in the New England Regional Yoga Asana Championship again in 2015 and went on to win first place in the youth division of the USA National Yoga Asana Championship. I am planning to go to internationals in November.

I am so thankful for this yoga practice, my coach Sara Curry, and my family for taking classes with me.

Yoga has changed me in an awesome way. I'm stronger both in my body and mind and it's helped my confidence. My sister says I've inspired her. But I hope to get more kids to do yoga and try competition. If you can practice your routine every day it will help you be less nervous when you are on stage. Enjoy all the great people you'll meet and the amazing routines you can watch.

Aiden LeMay 2015 USA Yoga Youth Division Gold Medal Winner

 

CHAMPIONS PAST

 

Andrea Nicole Ortiz 2015 USA Yoga Adult Division Gold Medal Winner

After moving to New York and taking my first yoga class, I was immediately hooked. Yoga made me feel free. I was encouraged to take a 200 hour Vinyasa teacher training. In my training I met Jared McCann, and he discovered I'm a back-bender. He was the one who encouraged me to do the yoga competition. When I started practicing yoga I was like a rubber band: hyper flexible but with zero strength or stability.  I was able to develop physical strength in my body and inner strength as a person. Yoga constantly reminds me that my body is a bridge to get to something higher; each pose has the ability to take us to that perfect stillness where time and space stop and everything just is. Yoga, this union, is so beautiful because it puts body and soul together. As humans we feel so broken sometimes, but through this practice we can join our pieces back together and realize we are and have always been whole and complete. As whole beings we are able to connect with others, with nature and with god, and realize we're all part of something bigger and far more beautiful.

Yoga heals.  I originally started practicing yoga due to a back injury. Years of heavy weightlifting with little regard for form led to an L5/S1 disc herniation in 2005.The pain was excruciating, as was the emotional toll. I took medication, did some physical therapy, and went right back to lifting. After re-injuring it in 2007 I heard that yoga was restorative, so I decided to try it out. I practiced a vinyasa flow for almost two years before attending my first Bikram Yoga class in 2010. It was hard and I didn’t think I was going to make it.  After class, however, I felt amazing. Over time, my spine started to heal and my mind started to clear.

Early in my yoga practice, I learned about yoga competition and was intrigued. Since then, I have competed in three New York State Regional, two Texas Regional, and two National Championships. Perhaps the greatest lesson I have learned through competitive yoga is the ability to maintain a mind-body connection in the face of multiple challenges—judges, spectators, time constraints, etc. Yoga Asana truly becomes the present moment.

 

John Schoggins 2015 USA Yoga Adult Division Gold Medal Winner

Michele Trufant 2015 USA Yoga Senior Division Gold Medal Winner

My name is Michele Trufant and I am 59  years old.  I have trained event horses and race horses for twenty five years(I began riding at age 30) and found yoga at the age of 50.  My yoga practice has changed my life both physically and emotionally. The physical benefits are obvious; the emotional are different for each individual. For me, I have found a peace and rhythm to my life that carries me along in all my endeavors.  I believe these benefits allowed me to fully engage and revel in the entire yoga competition process and also in my riding competitions.  Further, providing a master(senior)division, allowed our group to fully shine! Everyone I meet is thrilled to know that there are so many of us over the age of fifty, practicing yoga on and that many, younger and older, are actually considering competing in the future.  My intention for the coming year is to support and encourage any and all students of yoga in their endeavor to compete.

I began practicing yoga in Texas in 2005. Years of long-distance running had taken a toll on my knees and yoga worked to re-align sore joints and to heal my knees. Bikram Yoga Richardson became my home studio in 2007 where studio director, Yassi Maige, and the other teachers, inspired me to do several 60-day challenges. My business travels often take me to Asia, Europe, and various North American cities. I have had the pleasure of practicing at yoga studios in the US, Canada, China, India, Thailand, and South Korea. Having retired from most running, but missing the annual training for the fall Dallas running season, I felt the need to step up my physical activity. Yassi suggested that I train for the 2010 Texas Asana Championships. Training for the competition was a mix of fun, stress, and outstanding yoga. Each year since, I have competed in the Texas Regional competition. In 2014, when USA Yoga established the senior division, I scored high enough to be invited to Nationals, but couldn’t compete due to a business conflict. I was invited to compete at the 2015 USA National competition in the senior men’s division and won after almost being cut in the pre-qualifier round.


Scott Marin 2015 USA Yoga Senior Division Gold Medal Winner


Annie Yanofsky 2015 USA Yoga Youth Division Gold Medal Winner

I began practicing Yoga when I was 11 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. As a former gymnast, I was looking for a way to maintain my strength and flexibility in a more calming environment. I competed in my first competition at the New England Regional Yoga Asana Championship in 2013, placing first in the New Hampshire girl's division. I competed in the New England Regional Yoga Asana Championship again in 2015 and went on to win first place in the youth division of the USA National Yoga Asana Championship. I am planning to go to internationals in November.

I am so thankful for this yoga practice, my coach Sara Curry, and my family for taking classes with me.

Yoga has changed me in an awesome way. I'm stronger both in my body and mind and it's helped my confidence. My sister says I've inspired her. But I hope to get more kids to do yoga and try competition. If you can practice your routine every day it will help you be less nervous when you are on stage. Enjoy all the great people you'll meet and the amazing routines you can watch.

Aiden LeMay 2015 USA Yoga Youth Division Gold Medal Winner



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