2017 Champions



Emily Avery, 2017 Adult Women's Gold Medal


I took my first yoga class six years ago, when I was just 16. Though my practice was initially motivated by a way to balance my classical ballet training, it quickly became much more than cross training. I fell in love with this physical and mental challenge and the ways it allowed me to grow -- athletically, artistically, academically, and otherwise.  

I began competing in 2012 in the youth girls division, where I placed first nationally in 2013. Now in the adult women's division, I continue to compete in the hopes of sparking excitement in youth students like my former self and inspiring them to take on the practice of yoga and gain its benefits. I am grateful that the yoga championships have provided a forum for this, and I am continually inspired by the incredible community of practitioners, teachers, coaches and friends who make these championships possible.


 
Eddie Hall, 2017 Adult Men's Gold Medal


Eddie Hall started competing in November 2009. He competes because it's a great way to stay extremely motivated with his Yoga practice. As he took the stage for the 2017 National Finals, he was focused on his breath and staying calm. Over the last 9 years of competing, he has learned the best way to do this is to smile, relax, and enjoy every second of those three minutes.

Leading up to Nationals, Full Spine Twist was giving him the most difficulty due to a minor knee injury. He did not attempt it during Regionals in March, then took some time off from his yoga practice to heal. Then using yoga as therapy, he was able to bring his Full Spine Twist posture back for Nationals.

Outside of his and his wife’s, (Kelly Hall, also a competitor), Yoga studio, you will most likely find him working on their 127 year old Farmhouse.

Over the course of his Yoga practice, he has learned how one has to be patient. Forcing your body into a posture it's not ready for, only invites injury. After Internationals he plans to continue learning more about yoga to become a better teacher, coach and practitioner.


 

 
Catherine McCauley 2016 and 2017 USA Yoga, Senior Division Gold Medal Winner


I began practicing yoga in 2005 as an alternative to running.  Before long, yoga became a part of me.   Bikram Yoga North Texas (BYNT) has been my home studio for 12 years, where Stacey Stier Herndon and the staff at BYNT provide a haven of support and love.   

My first competition was in 2008, offering a way to dive deeper into the details of the postures.  Today, competition still offers this deeper focus, but even more challenging is the competition within my own mind.  The challenge, and some of my thoughts as I compete are:  (1)  be present – “I only have this moment. I choose to be here, and I am excited to share my love”, (2) be grateful - “I’m grateful for my body and it’s abilities.  I am grateful for this experience and all the experiences that led me to today”, and (3) to feel, know, and trust that the Love of God/Spirit/the Universe is here, in this moment, with us all.

A surprise from competition has been the very sincere love, support, and encouragement from all the fellow competitors – it really is a beautiful experience and their love and support is such a great example to me, it helps to calm me, realizing it is not about “winning”, it’s about sharing the experience, encouraging others, and doing your best, whatever that is, today.

Competition has elevated my learning about how critical my thinking is to an outcome, and this is true in absolutely everything I do, whether yoga, work, or my personal life.   If I come from a place of Love, it feels pure and I feel that Love shines through; If I come from a place of ego, I am fearful and negative and that, too, “shines” through.   

It’s a continuous journey that I’m so grateful for.  Yoga, fellow yogis and yoginis, and experiences therein, are all such wonderful teachers to me – mind, body, and spirit.


 
Wayne Campbell, 2017 National Senior Men's Division Gold Medal Winner


Wayne Campbell’s first Yoga Competition was the 2014-2015 Texas Yoga Asana Championship, at age 49 in the Men's Division, in which he advanced to the 2014-2015 USA National Yoga Asana Championship.

The first year he competed because he was inspired by the energy, focus, and ambition of the five yoga athletes in the 84 Advance Yoga Series Class that he took two months before his first Yoga Competition.  He wanted to be among this group of yoga athletes who were all training for the 2014-2015 Texas Yoga Asana Championship.

Nowadays, he competes to train, prepare, and apply his body everyday through stretches, yoga, and exercises to progress into more advanced yoga poses.

As he took the stage for National Finals his mind was clear, quiet, focused, and still. he was "in the moment" and in "the zone”. It was a beautiful experience and moment.  

Finger Stand Pose was the yoga pose he had been fine tuning and was most challenged by leading up to the 2017 USA National Yoga Championship.  Five weeks before the 2017 USA National Yoga Championship, he strained my right Rhomboid muscle, which made it very difficult to do Finger Stand Pose.  He chose to replace Finger Stand Pose with One Legged Peacock Pose, which did not bother his right rhomboid.  He also stopped training, practicing, and running through his yoga routine five weeks before the USA National Yoga Championship to allow his rhomboid to heal and rest.  He shifted his training to healing and rest, by having chiropractic and massages three times a week, and acupuncture and cupping every other week.

Outside of the yoga studio, he spend lots of his time at home with his girlfriend, Moji and his Jack Russell Yoga Dog, Max. He learned how important it is to sit still, and slow the breathing, which calmed the nervous system, quieted the mind, and kept the adrenaline low.  This was valuable in helping him to perform his yoga routine on stage at the 2017 USA National Yoga Championship.

After Internationals he will continue to fine tune his training and prepare for next year's Yoga Championship season.



Jamie Greene, 2017 Youth Gold Medal


This was Jamie Greene's first year competing! Her first competition was in November.  She was looking for an alternative to traditional team sports, which she had been playing for school. This was a good next step to express her passion for yoga. After all the buildup of stress and practice, she was relieved when the three minutes arrived. She was very focused on not falling out of the final pose of her routine.

After Regionals, Jamie was introduced to dancer pose, which she then included in her nationals routine. During practice, she struggled with hyper extending her leg and maintaining her balance. To overcome this, she devoted much more of her practice time to dancer in order to master it.  She was surprised to learn how close the yoga community is. Unlike other sports, everyone is very supportive of each other, and while they work to do their personal best, they also want their competition to do their best.

Jamie will continue her daily practice and compete next year. She is also hoping to become a yoga instructor within the next year. 


 


Charlie Houck, 2017 Youth Gold Medal


This was Charles’ first year competing. He is 11 years old.
He started competing after years of taking classes with Bridget Baxter in Colorado. He watched people prepare to compete and he wanted to set a goal for himself.  

When he was on stage he was trying to not think about anything but counting. Full Tortoise was the hardest pose for him to master because his feet felt like they were slipping off of his head. He practiced it over and over again until he got it.

Outside of the yoga studio you would find him at the beach surfing with his family. God willing, after Internationals he will be in the mission field teaching yoga and spreading the gospel of Jesus because he feels that Jesus is the reason he has yoga.