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!
I was rescued by this healing, therapeutic yoga after living my life in chronic, debilitating, 365 - 24/7 residual limb pain, the result of a head on collision at approximately 40 m.p.h. with a large, red concrete truck in April of 2010. I was on my way to work that fateful day when that truck crossed the center line, traveled up the hood of my car, continued through my windshield and traumatically amputated my left arm cleanly at the shoulder. After surviving such a horrific accident and living in chronic pain, in conjunction with the loss of both of my beloved parents within that same short timeframe, a severe depression and addiction to pain killers, all of which culminated in a suicide attempt, I was left completely empty and in search of a new way to live and move forward. As you have likely guessed, that way forward was, is and will likely always be, my yoga practice. In that regard, I had no choice other than to compete in the Regional Championships because I quite literally owed this magical yoga series my life. I participated to show people in the words of a living legend and one of my mentors, the incomparable Mary Jarvis, “All you need to do this yoga is a spine!,”-- Two arms are completely optional!
I prepared and trained hard for the competition for approximately 2 months with incredible yogis, teachers and friends, all of whom I hold in a special place in my heart. At the competition I met amazing yogis from all over the Midwest Region. These people were the most encouraging, kind, compassionate souls ever because again, many of them wanted to share with others a healing, therapeutic modality that changed their lives as well. My experience competing in the Regional Championships, or again, as I prefer to say, sharing my love of yoga with others, was one of the most beautiful, liberating, freeing 2 minutes and 50 seconds of my entire life. I felt as if I was floating above the stage. As I previously mentioned, my goal in entering the event was to inspire those who thought they couldn’t, to practice yoga and self heal, as well as to complete my full routine without falling out of any of the postures. I am proud to inform you that I achieved my goal! Exhilarating, incredible, outstanding are wonderful adjectives that don’t even begin to do justice to how I felt when I walked off that stage as if I was levitating!
Those 2 minutes and 50 seconds not only served to inspire others, but truly inspired, motivated and profoundly affected me, a newly minted and certified “500 Hour Hatha Yoga – Core 26 Instructor” by the exceptional Raja Yoga Academy in Huntington Beach, CA this past month. My yoga journey is truly just beginning as I start to teach and share my love of yoga with others from the podium with the sole objective of inspiring and empowering people to do what the human body, mind and spirit were designed to do, to heal!
With much gratitude & light,