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Presenting Truth in Three Minutes



In November 2015, Robin Fox competed for the first time for reasons similar to why she had started practicing yoga in 2012: She was looking for something to help her manage and heal from her depression.

Fox found her first class terrifying for all the usual reasons: the length and the heat. But on top of that, Fox recalls the visible self-injury cuts she had on her body. From the beginning of that class, Fox felt like she couldn't escape her negative thoughts as she looked at herself in the mirror. However, by the end of the class she found that something incredible had happened. She wanted to return the next day, and she did.  

As she explains, "When you show up to your mat everyday in a sweaty room full of incredible people working through their own struggles, change is inevitable. I started to find joy, gratitude, and love within myself as I unfolded among a community of yogis."

After watching her current coach Michele Vennard compete, Fox was impressed by Vennard's grace and beauty on stage as well as the hard work she knew had taken place before the competition. The inspiration was enough for Fox to decide to compete the following year. As Fox explains, she fell in love "with the process of trying, failing, unfolding, and growing."

According to Fox, she thinks the two largest factors for success, both in competition and life in general, are dedication and time. That's why her training routine in the weeks leading up to a competition includes practicing yoga at least once a day.

This dedication and patience has also helped Fox manage her depression, and while she still struggles she finds that yoga has helped her be a happier person.

Fox says that the best advice she has gotten is to "tell your story with your spine," advice from her coach Michele Vennard. It's advice that, along with Fox's dedication and patience, has helped her with a posture she's excited to master: dancer. Fox says that she tries to practice the pose after every class, and the repetition has led to large changes and improvements for her spine, something she thought would never happen when she first started. She still shows patience towards herself, however, finding peace with the emotions that can sometimes arise when she comes out of the pose.

Overall, Fox competes because she wants to show others that yoga can aid with whatever struggles a person may have, whether they stem from mental health or anything else. As she says, "your story matters, and those three minutes have a beautiful way of presenting your truth."

Intense Concentration

Angel Rodriguez placed first for Virginia during the 2017 Regional Asana competition in Columbus, Ohio, his first live yoga competition.

Although this is Angel's first year competing, he already respects the dedication that it takes to do well on stage. As he explains, yoga isn't a "sissy" sport. "It requires intense concentration, strength, and determination in preparation for success." This intense practice and concentration is what first drew Angel to compete. In fact, he compares the rigorous training and dedication to how he felt when he used to wrestle and play football.

Angel carries this dedication through to his training schedule. He practices yoga six days a week, and attends circuit training sessions and lifts weights four days a week. In the days leading up to competition, he focuses more on his yoga practice and makes time to meditate.

Despite maintaining his focus during his practice, Angel admits that the best training advice he has received is counterintuitive: "don't think about it, just do it!"

Furthermore, Angel's focus has helped him improve the posture that drives him crazy: Locust Pose. Hard work and patience  has paid off for Angel in a pose that tends to improve by millimeters.

As Angel gets ready to join his other competitors in Grand Rapids in a few weeks, he is looking forward to meeting yogis from across the country and excited to see the other competitors practice offstage.

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.

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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