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Scott Marin: Excited to be on the USA Yoga Team



The Adult 50+ 2017 and 2018 champions are preparing to travel to Beijing, China to compete in the World Championship of Yoga Sports, December 1-2. This series of blog posts will explore their journey.

Scott Marin placed 4th for Adult 50+ Men in Grand Rapids, MI in 2017. Here’s a look at his journey to Beijing.

1) Why are you competing in Internationals? What drives you to make this journey?

I decided to compete in the 2018 internationals after receiving an invitation based on 2017 national results. I had competed in the 2016 internationals in Italy, and the thrill of training for and competing in another international competition was too much to ignore. I enjoy competition training as part of regular yoga practice.

2) How are you preparing for the International Competition? Include types of practice, diet, meditation, etc.

For preparation, I’ve increased my yoga practice at home and at the studio. At home, I concentrate on stretching tight areas and strengthening weak areas. At the studio, I do lots of beginner, intermediate, and advanced classes. I found that training is a delicate balance between improving postures, healing sore joints, and avoiding injury.

3) What are you most excited about?

I’m excited about being on the USA Yoga Team. The fellow yogis are great. I’m anxious to see old friends and meet new ones.

4) Will any friends/family travel with you? Who?

My wife, Karen, will travel with me as she has done for several past competitions.

5) How long have you been practicing?

I have been practicing yoga since 2005. Prior to that, I did distance running, which included several marathons. Around age 50, my knees and hips were chronically sore from the running. Yoga gave me a lot of relief.

6) What is your profession?

I’m a retired electrical engineer.

7) Where do you regularly practice/are you a yoga teacher (name the studio, including city and state)?

I regularly practice near Dallas, Texas at Bikram Yoga Richardson/Allen. In early 2018, I completed a 200-hour teacher training program based on Ashtanga flow yoga. I occasionally teach a Ghosh Flow (intermediate) class. I’ve also been leading competition practice sessions to encourage new people to get involved with yoga sport and to help past competitors prepare for their next competition.


Thomas Forbang: Meticulous Preparation to Compete



The Adult 50+ 2017 and 2018 champions are preparing to travel to Beijing, China to compete in the World Championship of Yoga Sports, December 1-2. This series of blog posts will explore their journey.

Thomas Forbang won the Adult 50+ Men’s Division Gold Medal at the 2018 USA Yoga Nationals in Madison, WI as well as the Bronze Medal in 2017 in Grand Rapids, MI.

1) Why are you competing in Internationals?
Because I ranked high enough in the 2017/2018 USA Yoga National Championship competitions and that earned me an invite to the Internationals.

2) What drives you to make this journey?
Sheer love for the sport and more exposure to the international world which potentially can land some advertising interests from companies.

3)  How are you preparing for the International Competition? Include types of practice, diet, meditation, etc.
I have begun my 90 days of competition training (since September 1) with drills that target spine flexibility, shoulder thawing and hip opening. I am also striving to maintain a Body Fat Ratio (BFR) of under 15% by meticulously balancing appropriate calories consumed versus calories burned.

4) What are you most excited about?
Stepping once again on the biggest yoga stage in the world - The International Yoga Championship competitions. Also, getting to visit Asia for the first time. We will be stopping by Tokyo, Japan on our way back.

5) Will any friends/family travel with you? Who?
Oh yes - my wife! She is my spine. She joins my head to my lower body using my mid body :)  

6) How long have you been practicing?
2018 is my 7th year practicing.

7) What is your profession?
I am a software developer and a design, data and application architect.

8) Where do you regularly practice/are you a yoga teacher (name the studio, including city and state)?
I practice daily at the YogaWorks Fairfax studio in Fairfax City, Virginia and just recently became Yoga Alliance certified (RYT 200) as a Hot 60/90 yoga instructor

9) Any other info you want us to know.
I am looking fervently to the Internationals again. More importantly, I want to be one of the members of Team USA who brings the ultimate  trophy home in the Men's Adult 50+ division  just like we did in 2016 in Pordenone, Italy.

Michele Vennard: Thrilled to Go on Stage



The Adult 50+ 2017 and 2018 champions are preparing to travel to Beijing, China to compete in the World Championship of Yoga Sports, December 1-2. This series of blog posts will explore their journey.

Michele Vennard won the Adult 50+ Women’s Division Gold Medal at the 2018 USA Yoga Nationals in Madison, WI as well as the Silver Medal in 2017 Nationals in Grand Rapids, MI.

1) Why are you competing in Internationals? What drives you to make this journey?  

I find it fascinating that at age 54, I can compete in something I love at an International level.  I think the push to traveling to Beijing (where I have never been) was knowing that I'd be announced as Michele Vennard from the United States - that is so powerful and I'm proud!  I'm not just proud of myself and the community that I'm in, but proud of yoga and the hard work everyone has done to expose it this way!

2)  How are you preparing for the International Competition? Include types of practice, diet, meditation, etc.
I don't overdo it because I recognize that it is a performance. I will go a bit harder in extra classes, doing homework and watching how I eat and sleep. But I also want to push the practice to show how this is available to everyone to build and sustain overall health even in older years!  It has to be a way of life for all if you want to live the life you were meant to have!

3) What are you most excited about?  
I'm thrilled to go on stage in another country - wow!  I'm thrilled to see and meet new people in a new country. But mostly, I am so excited to meet my peers from other parts of the world - that will make me cry!

4) Will any friends/family travel with you? Who?  
I am so lucky as I don't really "like" to travel and I have not ever done anything like this, but I have Lee (Seldon Dickinson) coming with me as he's lived there, and knows the language and the subway system - yay!  He's competed and he's so excited to go with me and help - I'm so grateful.

5) How long have you been practicing?  
I just celebrated on August 11th, 20 years of practice.  I wrote a blog about it on our website (blog section) and Changu did a story on me, Humans of Bikram Yoga if you care to read or share more.

6) What is your profession?  
I own and direct Bikram Yoga San Jose (and teach too).

7) Where do you regularly practice/are you a yoga teacher (name the studio, including city and state)?

Bikram Yoga San Jose, San Jose, CA.

8) Any other info you want us to know.

I've owned my studio for 15+ years.  I also coach athletes. I've hosted, along with Cynthia Wehr of Bomitra, several Regionals.  I've judged in the past.  I graduated from teacher training in Fall 2001!


Yoko Jackson: Grateful for Her Practice



The Adult 50+ 2017 and 2018 champions are preparing to travel to Beijing, China to compete in the World Championship of Yoga Sports, December 1-2. This series of blog posts will explore their journey.

Yoko Jackson won the Silver Medal for Adult 50+ Women in Madison, WI in 2018. Here’s a look at her journey to Beijing.

1) Why are you competing in Internationals? What drives you to make this journey?

Last year, I decided that it would be a good way to commemorate my 50th birthday by competing in the yoga competition. I had only been practicing Yoga for three years and thought that it would be a great way to assess my skills to better understand how to improve myself. I had never imagined that I would get the opportunity to compete in internationals.

2)  How are you preparing for the International Competition? Include types of practice, diet, meditation, etc.

On Mondays, I have my Ashtanga primary class, and Tuesdays are my Ashtanga Mysore class. From Wednesday to Saturday I continue my Ashtanga practice on my own. Also, on Wednesdays and Thursdays I practice hot yoga for 60 minutes and then 90 minutes Friday to Sunday.

3) What are you most excited about?

I’m very excited about learning more about the Chinese culture and competing with all the other incredible people at the international level.

4) Will any friends/family travel with you? Who?

No, I'll be traveling by myself, but my family and friends are always supporting me, and I know I will have their support.

5) How long have you been practicing?

I have been practicing hot yoga for three years.

6) What is your profession?

I take care of my 17 year old daughter and 22 year old son at home. I also take care of my adorable miniature schnauzer.

7) Where do you regularly practice/are you a yoga teacher (name the studio, including city and state)?

I practice at YogaWorks in Fairfax, VA and practice Ashtanga at Heart N Soul Yoga in Vienna, Va.

8) Any other info you want us to know.

Yoga has helped me recover and rehabilitate after a tennis injury four years ago. I have continued to better my health by trying all different types of yoga. I’m very grateful for being introduced to the practice, and I hope that all kinds of yoga are fully appreciated and understood by the yogis out there.

Roxanne Armstrong: Age Does Not Define Her



The Adult 50+ 2017 and 2018 champions are preparing to travel to Beijing, China to compete in the World Championship of Yoga Sports, December 1-2. This series of blog posts will explore their journey.

Roxanne Armstrong won the Bronze Medal for Adult 50+ Women in Grand Rapids, MI in 2017. Here’s a look at her journey to Beijing.

1) Why are you competing in Internationals? What drives you to make this journey?

I am competing because i don't want age to define me. I like that my yoga practice is ageless and timeless. This is what I would love to share with others: there are no limitations when you are open and free to possibilities.

I am a person who does better with a goal. Competitions help me too focus and prioritize my practice, my natural instinct is to be lazy but at the same time I value health and well-being and I know the value of community. Odd, but it's the perfect storm!!

2)  How are you preparing for the International Competition? Include types of practice, diet, meditation, etc.

I prepare by just being consistent with my practice, at this stage of life I am doing what feels right, not to push so hard that I injure myself, but more awareness of what feels good and what is possible. I want a balance, and that’s the message I want to share with others, be open and present in your body, be willing to receive and accept.

3) What are you most excited about?

I'm excited about a new adventure. The wonderful experience, connecting with other like-minded beings, the support, the encouragement and too be in inspired!

4) Will any friends/family travel with you? Who?

I will be traveling alone, but I will meet up with many that are friends and competitors who all are my Family!

5) How long have you been practicing?

I am entering my 16th year of practice.

6) What is your profession?

I am a Massage Therapist, a Yoga Teacher, and a Personal Assistant. I have many jobs, and I love them all! I feel I am here for the service of others but ALSO that I am here to live a life of balance, I really try to Walk the Talk and lead by example.

7) Where do you regularly practice/are you a yoga teacher (name the studio, including city and state)?

I practice at Hot Yoga Pasadena, CA. I love this studio. Val Sklar-Robinson is the owner, and we are celebrating our 20th Year!!

Mai Toomey: Honored, Excited and Motivated!

The Adult 50+ 2017 and 2018 champions are preparing to travel to Beijing, China to compete in the World Championship of Yoga Sports, December 1-2. This series of blog posts will explore their journey.

Mai Toomey won the Bronze Medal for Adult 50+ Women in Madison, WI. Here’s a look at her journey to Beijing.

1) Why are you competing in Internationals? What drives you to make this journey?

I started yoga as one of my hobbies. By joining yoga competitions, I feel more connected and committed with my practice. It was great every time I had an opportunity to see my yoga fellows in such a positive and healthy environment. This year, for the first time, I joined them in the National Yoga Championship. Unexpectedly, I placed 3rd in our 50+ Women Adult Division which advanced me to the International Yoga Championship in Beijing in December. I feel honored, excited and motivated. Yoga definitely enhances my quality of life.

2)  How are you preparing for the International Competition? Include types of practice, diet, meditation, etc.

Finding time to practice is very challenging. I have a very busy and intense full-time job, and I often feel drained at the end of the workday. However, I am always looking forward to free time I have for my practice. It seems funny but very often I practice my postures when I am cooking dinner; then on weekends, I go to a yoga studio to practice. In terms of diet, I eat a daily balanced meal of everything: carb, protein and vegetables. I eat a lot of carbs though. I like fresh-baked bread; I can’t help it. Then I burn calories by my yoga practice!

3) What are you most excited about?

I am extremely excited and looking forward to seeing our USA team and all athletes from different countries. Just thinking of watching their live performances and cheering them on makes me feel very emotional. I am very honored and proud to be a part of the event.

4) Will any friends/family travel with you? Who?

My husband and my daughter will go with me.

5) How long have you been practicing?

Four years.

6) What is your profession?

I am a Medical Coding Compliance Auditor. It is a very stressful job; that’s why I need yoga!

7) Where do you regularly practice/are you a yoga teacher (name the studio, including city and state)?

I practice at Baltimore Hot Yoga and Wellness in Parkville, Maryland.

8) Any other info you want us to know.

Warm regards to all yoga athletes and enjoy your yoga journey!

Wayne Campbell: Diligent Pursuit of Greatness

The Adult 50+ 2017 and 2018 champions are preparing to travel to Beijing, China to compete in the World Championship of Yoga Sports, December 1-2. This series of blog posts will explore their journey.

Wayne Campbell won the Bronze Medal for Adult 50+ Men in Madison, WI. Here’s a look at his journey to Beijing.

1) Why are you competing in Internationals? What drives you to make this journey?

I am competing in the 2018 International Yoga Championship because I have diligently trained 4 years as a Yoga Athlete to reach a level or proficiency, skill, and ability that would lead me to this opportunity.  I have my health, vitality, energy, and no good reason not to compete.  To be rewarded and recognized for diligently pursuing the path of the Yoga Athlete has so much more value to me.  I love reaping the rewards of what I have put so much time, energy, focus, and intention into.

2)  How are you preparing for the International Competition? Include types of practice, diet, meditation, etc.

I am preparing very diligently for the 2018 International Yoga Competition.  
I use lots of video and visual feedback for guidance.  I take 6-7 Bikram Hot Yoga classes each week, 13 Stretch Flow Yoga classes each week, 3 Hatha Yoga classes a week, and 3 Mat Pilates classes a week.  I also have my own personal yoga and stretch ritual, which consists stretches, drills, and exercises to go deeper into my muscles and fascia, which varies between 1-3 hours daily.  Then I practice yoga poses in my routine as well as other poses I am developing.  

My diet is pretty simple......
Early Breakfast: Fruit.
Breakfast: Granola w/ Almond Milk.
Snack: Walnuts.
Lunch:  Meat & vegetables or starches & vegetables.
Snack: Walnuts.
Dinner: Meat & vegetables or starches & vegetables.

3) What are you most excited about?

I am most excited about the possibility of improving the scores of the yoga poses in my yoga routine and excited about successfully doing a yoga pose that I have been working on for months and years.

4) How long have you been practicing?

I have been practicing yoga for 13.5 years.

5) What is your profession?

I am a Yoga Studio owner of Urban Fit Yoga, a Certified Bikram Yoga Teacher and a Licensed Massage Therapist.

6) Where do you regularly practice/are you a yoga teacher (name the studio, including city and state)?

I am the owner of Urban Fit Yoga Houston in Houston, Texas.

7) Any other info you want us to know.  

I have a second chance at training and performing as a yoga athlete after a career-ending dance injury that left me living with chronic pain and tightness for 23 years.  I am grateful to be able to train, play, perform on stage, and for my body healing and recovering.  I wish every yoga athlete good luck and growth on their Yoga athlete journey.

Mara Scaramella: Continually Challenging Herself


Mara Scaramella has a lot on her plate, but she still finds time to practice and compete, achieving the first-place medal for Arizona Adult 50+ Women for the past three years. Mara is one of the USA Yoga Federation scholarship winners for the 2018 Nationals and is looking forward to the competition in Madison, WI.


“I enjoy going to the competitions – the whole community is really nice and really fun,” she says. “I’m really looking forward to it and am really excited that there are so many Adult 50+ female competitors this year!”

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Mo Fathelbab: Being Healthy and Living Longer is a Conscious Decision


Mo Fathelbab, the 2018 USA Yoga Mid-West Regionals Virginia champion for the Adult 50+ Men’s Division, is a focused, passionate entrepreneur and devoted yogi. He has practiced for 20 years, primarily Hot 90 style, but considers himself a seasonal yogi.

If the weather is nice, you will find Mo paddle boarding down the Potomac River or outside enjoying nature. If it is snowing, he might be skiing with his wife and son. No matter what though, he practices his competition routine daily to prepare for Nationals.

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For Lisa Pafe, Competition is About Showing Your Perfection

 

 

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Nahoko Nakayama: Getting Older Means Getting Stronger

Nahoko Nakayama, Gold Medalist in the Adult Women’s 50+ Division for the Mid-West Regionals, uses age to her advantage. At age 63, her daily yoga practice provides a firm (and flexible) foundation for her success as a yoga competitor.

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Adults 50+ Division Takes off!


By now you have heard that USA Yoga is rebranding the Senior Division to the more descriptive title Adult 50+. This is great news for our Division which includes anyone who turns 50 in the next competition year and those wise yogis who are already age 50 and older.


The Pure Om Fairfax Competition Team Adult 50+ athletes have been busy this summer – first, preparing for Nationals (where competitor Thomas Forbang took the Bronze medal), and now, preparing for the 2018 competition season. During the summer, we continued to meet regularly to give each other constructive feedback on our routines, and everyone has kept up a daily yoga practice. We mixed it up this summer with other forms of yoga as well: Vinyasa, Barre and Yin. These other practices have helped us to build strength, flexibility and balance, which gets even more important as we age.


We also have taken advantage of new perspectives. For example, we visited Bikram Yoga Alexandria to take a class with fellow competitor Zoha Vaezi followed by a Spine Twisting Posture Lab with competitor Jenifer Ruschell.  We have tried different Bikram studios when we have travelled to such far flung places as Paris, Amsterdam, Japan, New Orleans, New Haven, and New York City.


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A Moment in Time



For more than two years, Lisa Pafe has been competing which, for her, is a demonstration of what she can do with her body, mind, and spirit as a senior athlete.

For Lisa, a variety of workouts is important to training for competition day. To prepare for nationals, Lisa practices different forms of yoga, including weight training and barre classes to build her strength, balance and flexibility.

Furthermore, she draws on the knowledge and insights of her competition team members at her yoga studio. They meet for weekly sessions and critiques. Finally, maintaing a consistent practice of her own routine is also important to Lisa; she makes sure to practice her routine once a day in the weeks leading up to competition.

For all of this practice and dedication, Lisa also maintains a healthy attitude toward her performance. Her best advice to competitors demonstrates her comfort and confidence. As she advises, "Competition is a moment in time. Just do the best you can do in that moment. Whatever you do, it is perfect for you."

This attitude has certainly helped with the pose that gives Lisa the most difficulty: rabbit. As she explains, because she has short arms it is difficult for her to hold her heels properly. Yet Lisa's approach to training is one way she has overcome this challenge.

Although Lisa's training will culminate in her three minutes on stage at nationals, she is most excited to see and bond with her fellow senior division competitors. In her own words, "seniors rock!"

My Senior Moment: A Yoga Competition Journey (Part 2) )

Part 2: My Senior Moment: My First Competition(s)


How can I describe the excitement and joy as well as the calm and self-realization of being on stage? I was excited for my first competition, but I was not nervous. I asked myself why. I realized that I was looking forward to showing the world what I could do with my body and mind and soul as a 55-year old “senior.”


Arriving at the competition venue with my crew from Pure Om Fairfax, I wondered what the day would entail. I soon learned that it was all about supporting your fellow competitors. Everyone I met that day was so positive and encouraging. Competition is not a “me versus you” thing; it is about encouraging your friends to do their best. I went to competition with friends from my studio, and I left with new friends from all over the Mid-Atlantic Region.

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My Senior Moment: A Yoga Competition Journey (Part 1)

My Senior Moment: A Yoga Competition Journey (Part 1)

In 2014, I had been practicing Bikram yoga regularly for a few years. At age 54, I was seeing progress. My asanas were improving slowly and surely, and I was really feeling the benefits of a regular practice. The benefits were not just physical, but mental and spiritual as well. Plus, I was truly enjoying the yoga community I found at my studio, Pure Om Fairfax.

The Mid-Atlantic Regional competition was coming up in January 2015. I saw some signs up in the studio for USA Yoga competition training, but gave them little notice. After all, wasn’t I well past the age of sport competition?

One evening I was chatting with a fellow “senior” yogi, and she said she was competing. I wanted to learn more. I did not know that age 50 plus had a separate competition division. I decided to attend the regional competition…just to observe.

I ended up spending the entire afternoon enjoying the competition. I was inspired! I thought, “I can do this!” I wanted to participate and resolved to join the competition training for the following year.  Fall 2015, I joined our competition team, one of two seniors.

Did I feel a bit overwhelmed, a bit intimidated? At first, yes, but as we practiced together, and sweated, and refined our routines, and encouraged each other, I forged new friendships, new confidence, new calm. I started to realize that competition is not about ego. Rather, it is about trusting yourself.

Would my competition routine be perfect? No, but it would be perfect for me. At age 55, I was preparing to show the world what I could do, with the body and mind and spirit of a senior yogi. As I readied my routine for the regional competition in February 2016, I found a new sense of calm and acceptance (along with a few pre-event jitters). I couldn’t wait to take the stage!