When Did Becoming a Senior Girl Become Uncool?!

Yoga Competition

Jumbo Shrimp. Only Choice, Bitter Sweet. And then we have Yoga Competition. Two words when put together to produce a relatively new event in Ontario, created some eyebrow raising conversations. Yoga Competition?

According to people I’ve spoken with, these two words simply don’t go together. “Yoga”, they tell me, “is a personal journey”. To which I agree. “Where does competition fit into the equation?” I’ve been asked as individuals try to make sense of this pretty ugly combination.

I began googling, attempting to make sense of a tradition that has been around for 100’s if not 1000’s of years. I stopped at “Oxymoron”, — a figure of speech in which two opposite ideas are joined to create an effect. Yoga Competition. An oxymoron, (according to literarydevices.net), may produce a dramatic effect but does not make sense.

A Yoga Competition sounded appealing for several reasons. I am an avid student, with no aspiration to teach, but a desire to learn. However, at this stage in life, I don’t rush to add the dis to my comfort zone. A goal, like a Yoga Competition could be exactly what I needed to push me into uncharted territory. I bumped up my classes and explored different modalities and even jumped on a plane to Ireland for a week to learn from a woman who trained yoga competitors.

At home and abroad, I practiced alongside some very bendy, extremely strong women. I wondered what my practice would have looked like, if I too had discovered yoga in my 20’s or 30’s. Not daunted, (haha, liar! Yes I was), but I continued, with each of my seven grandchildren surrounding me for support. I struggled through crow and peacock, powered by imagining their faces, wanting to set an example—, reciting you’re a grandmother of 7, you’re a grandmother of 7, when all I could do was lift my feet a mere ¼ inch off the ground. Picture this next statement like a Mercer Meyer book title …“I Was So Proud” the first time I was able to lower into Chaturanga without my knees touching down before my chest, and yes, did I mentally high fived myself.

As the day of competition drew closer, my insides jiggled with fear. I heard through the grapevine people were dropping out for various life reasons and the numbers were dwindling. This suited me fine. I even stopped by the front desk to mention it wouldn’t hurt my feelings if the entire event was canceled. I positioned it as though I would take one for the team. To which I received a resounding “we can’t do that”.

Had I been paying closer attention, I would have realized this local event held at my home studio was actually the regional competition for the province of Ontario. Cancelling was not an option.

Then two days before the event I received a text from Meghan Huehn, Bikram Yoga Barrie owner. She asked me if I wanted to be in the Women’s or Senior Women’s category, 55 plus. Whhat, there’s a Senior Women’s? I truly believe that due to a regular yoga practice, the mirror has been kinder to me. However, according to my birth certificate, I qualified as a senior. Yes. I am a grandmother of 7. Yes. I am bendy in a sort- of- way. Yes. I can do postures better from a seated position, rather than standing. Yes. Put me in coach-what’s the rest of that song? I’m ready to face the day.

My Yoga Competitionmay produce a dramatic effect but does not make sense

 

  • Having selected the right category I arrived on stage with self-assurance.
  • For the first time in 30 years, I did the splits in April.
  • This 3 minute demonstration was my dance. No more regret about being unable to perform as a child.
  • History was made- I became the first Ontario Senior Women’s Champion
  • I fondly remembered high school and being a Junior Girl, admiring and yearning to be one of the Senior Girls. Through this competition, younger people were hesitant to refer to me as a Senior. I’ve pondered many times since, when did being a senior girl/women stop being something to aspire to? A title that would have people feel hesitant in referring to? I didn’t have to wonder long, as the messaging is every where. We women are encouraged to eradicate our facial lines with creams, surgeries and fillers, thereby erasing our history. How did we allow ourselves to believe being a senior wasn’t “cool”. Not that I want my grey hair to show—a girl has her limits. I am reminded to embrace who and where I am today. I recognize through the gift of time, it’s a hard won place. Whether “the place” is standing on a yoga stage, or putting one foot in front of the other –there is no competition, only an opportunity to celebrate who we are in that moment of time.
  • Show up. My mind didn’t even imagine the Provincials when I began practicing four years ago. And now I’m given to understand it could be the Nationals, maybe even the Worlds!

Thank you to the entire BYB community for always supporting me. I may have graced the stage, but I certainly did not arrive alone! Namaste.

Meet Mandy

Visiting teachers teach us new things about ourselves. It’s always such a treat to have a fresh face and voice leading us through the 26 & 2.
For the month of April, please welcome Mandy Daniels to our space! Mandy was one of my first yoga teachers, and I definitely encourage you to take her class! She’s on the schedule as “Visiting Teacher”

Here’s a bit about this amazing lady:

Mandy Daniels completed her Bikram yoga teacher training in the fall of 2005 in Los Angeles. As a dedicated teacher, she’s connected with thousands of practitioners in Kingston and Waterloo, including guest visits to Hamilton, Toronto and Barrie, Ontario, as well as two years as a lululemon Ambassador. Her teaching philosophy is to create an environment that feels secure and free – a safe space for practitioners to enjoy the experience and to see themselves in the greatest light possible. She loves studying human potential and the connection between body mind and energy, and bringing a passionate, yet calm, spirit to each class.

Prior to teaching yoga, Mandy received Bachelor of Physical and Health Education and Bachelor of Arts degrees at Queen’s University in Kingston. Always interested to immerse herself in a culture and learn about various ways of life, she’s lived in, and traveled through, various parts of the world including 8 months in New Zealand working at a nightclub, a farm and cycling around the south island, as well as experiencing powerful travels through Cambodia, Thailand, Bali and Nepal, where among other things, she studied meditation at Kopan Monastery. Mandy also taught English for a year in Japan in a remote village, worked as a Forest Fire Fighter in Northern Ontario, as a Fitness and Lifestyle leader for executive programs, and led biking, hiking and multi-sport trips with Backroads in the Canadian Rockies and Belize. She pursued her photography interest and exhibited fine art at The Artist Project in Toronto, a juried art show, and built a contemporary portrait portfolio, very much inspired by the work of Sue Bryce and Lara Jade, whom she studied with in a globally broadcast workshop in the CreativeLive studios in Seattle. Most recently, Mandy’s returning to her focus in music – she had an early dream to be a professional bass player and studied it intensively during her high school years, but left it to travel, play soccer, do yoga and live other worlds. In 2011, she revived the dream, started to DJ and is now focused on music production and following the inspiration of techno; all the while keeping up with her passion for yoga and all things body mind spirit. She hopes to see you in class or on the dance floor!

How Yoga Changed My Life: the KMAC edition

My name is Kevin McCormick, I am the “Canadian Member and Industry Relationship Manager” for SME (The society of Manufacturing Engineers) Barrie Bikram Yoga has changed my life! One year ago, I would never have thought a team of yoga instructors could teach me so much. My physical, mental and spiritual health has benefited enormously within a short span of time.

I was introduced to Barrie Bikram Yoga by a very close family friend at a time when I was physically struggling with the battle wounds of being a very active and competitive person. My life time injuries include; 7 knee surgeries, broken back, broken ribs, various other broken bones and a torn bicep. I suffer from arthritis in my knees, and severe tendonitis in my elbows. When I first started at the Barrie Bikram Yoga studio, I could barely kneel down on my knees, let alone touch my rear to my ankles in sitting Japanese style. Due to pain and inflammation in my knees, I had pretty much given up running as it was way too painful. I can remember my first Bikram Yoga session, with the talented Siobhan, being very welcoming and warm. It was like I had come home. By practising at Barrie Bikram Yoga, I have become more flexible, able to control pain in my body from years of abuse, and have returned to sports I had given up because of the poor shape my body was in. My Chronic back pain had pretty much disappeared; my knees had never felt better. At one point I had thought I would never run again, but after a couple months of Bikram Yoga I found myself able to run 10k at a whim with no serious pain in my knees. I was running on a regular basis again. My tendonitis has pretty much disappeared and my back pain is relatively nothing. I was beginning to feel like I was 20yrs younger.

Although I struggled with some postures, I am always encouraged by Meghan and her amazing staff. Emotional support is never lacking at Barrie Bikram Yoga. I have learned that fulfillment is a journey that never ends and is about continually improving your body, mind and spirit. I have completed two 30 day challenges with Barrie Bikram Yoga and the differences in my body were quite evident. My confidence level was at an all-time high!!! I had regained my body and advanced my positive emotional self.

On December 23rd, 2014, two days before Christmas, I was told I had testicular cancer and on December 26th, they were going to operate. Needless to say I was very scared, confused and my spiritual beliefs were questioned. (This wasn’t supposed to happen to me!!!???) I went through a plethora of different emotions while dealing with the news, how the heck was I going to tell my children and family, how would I tell my friends. One of the hardest things I have ever done in my life was having the discussion with my children about being told I had Cancer. It was one of the most emotional things I have ever had to go through.

I was told that 2-3 weeks post-surgery may allow return of regular activity, yet even week three saw me doing very little from an activity perspective. As my body was healing from the surgery I was very tired and exhausted both physically and mentally. I felt my body deteriorate from a very healthy and active body (due to yoga) to a body where muscle atrophy was setting in and I gained 15lbs. After surgery, I felt for the first time, even after all my injuries over the years that my body was starting to fail me. I had very little energy, was sleeping 14-16 hours a day, and was physically unable to do any exercising as I healed. I really felt my mental state start to deteriorate as well; I really struggled not to let depression take over my mind. I really had to force myself to get up and get moving, even if it was just getting out of bed and going up and down stairs. All the time, I knew I had to get back to Bikram Yoga. My first time back was at about week five post-surgery. My muscle definition, flexibility, strength (both mentally and physically) had left me…All I knew was I needed to get back to yoga. Before Cancer, I used Yoga to strengthen my body, improve my flexibility so I could perform better at other sports. After Cancer, I realized the most important aspect of yoga in my opinion is to improve mental and spiritual health. Not that I was all that flexible and strong before Cancer but my body was certainly nowhere near where I once was 5 weeks earlier. As I realized I could not perform even close to where I was 5 weeks earlier, I realized the importance of mental determination, overcoming fear, weakness and doubt was critical. The Barrie Bikram Yoga studio instructors are world class and teach by using real life examples to help us overcome the obstacles in front of us. Their ability to communicate during class at a level that everyone can gain from is uncanny. Each instructor uses a unique style to motivate and communicate. From these instructors and their methods I learned how to dig deep mentally and spiritually to overcome my weaknesses physically. Something I had never had to do because at this point my battle was Mental and spiritual to recover Physical.

I have been back to yoga for about 4 weeks and can feel my confidence coming back daily as I struggle to get back to where I was physically. I learned From Barrie Bikram yoga that being fit physically is not enough…you need to test your body physically, challenge your mind mentally, come to peace spiritually and that no matter what level you are at, you can always be challenged. I have realized that yoga will always be a part of my life and with the help of Barrie Bikram yoga Studio I plan to improve myself physically, mentally and spiritually. For this I will always be grateful to Barrie Bikram Yoga Studio.

Special thanks to Meghan, Siobhan, Jorge, Rebekah, Aki and all the other teachers along the way. Sometimes in life we never get feedback regarding the positive things we do for people. I want you to understand how much you have helped me and the others heal on our journey through life. I will always be grateful for your help and support. What you do makes a difference.

Happy Pants – by Faith Howe

This is a journey of pants. Well, it’s more than a pants journey, but let’s say for all intents and purposes, I’ve measured this journey by pants.

I ventured out to Bikram Yoga Barrie on the referral from a friend who swore by the practice. As a woman moving through the 3rd act of life, forget the middle age thing, I felt it was time to pay closer attention to my health. And I hate spin class and aerobic anything. I was suspicious that a sedentary lifestyle behind the computer was going to catch up and ultimately be detrimental. Ok, truthfully, thought I might need to lose eight or so pounds.

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My first day at Bikram Yoga Barrie, was a Monday morning toward the end of March. It takes a ton of courage to put on tight exercise clothes at the tail end of a long, cold winter that was survived with lots of “soul” food.

But as I moved across the room past the floor to ceiling mirrors, I thought, hmmm, I had to wiggle pretty hard to get into this outfit, but it’s not as bad as I thought. I think this yoga practice will be ok, nice low lighting, and I felt a lovely

calm. As a newbie on my own, I decided to tuck into the back right hand corner. I settled down on my mat and towel peacefully.

Then the lights went on. Not just a few lights. The entire ceiling was illuminated like a hospital operating room. There was no one blocking my view (they make sure the mats are staggered so you can see yourself head on in the mirror). Oh yeah, I could see myself alright. There was no place to run, no place to hide. My reflection and the truth were right in front of me. I look like a stuffed sausage in the tight encasement of my “yoga outfit”. At least my pants were almost to my ankles so I couldn’t see the condition of my thighs, but I could certainly see I had widened. And my arms were at best, looking “bulky”.

My head told me not to look in the mirror to my immediate right, but I couldn’t help myself, oh yeah, 8 lbs my butt, that’s just on one cheek! No wonder I could barely breathe when I wore my jeans. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN, AGAIN? My inner voice screamed!

I know what you’re thinking, don’t be so hard on yourself, it likely wasn’t that bad. Bad, or Ugly Bad isn’t important. I didn’t like what I was seeing or truthfully, how I was feeling. However, there wasn’t much time to “ponder” on any of this, because before I knew it, I was breathing, lifting body parts and sweating like I’d never done before. The next 90 minutes were totally about survival, and staying inside the damn room. No one else was leaving, and I certainly wasn’t going to be the first. During that first session I took a quick glance, why is this room so full of proficient practitioners? Who comes back for this a second time?

I want to apologize to my fellow yogis, who seemed so much in control of their bodies and their reactions to the practice. The instructor told us to breathe in and out through our nose, and I’m certain that wasn’t happening. I was like a dog on a hot summer day, panting and flopping around every other moment.

In hindsight I can see a life lived is a series of choices. Moments of choice actually. I don’t mean “coffee or tea?”. I’m suggesting the instances we take a 90 or 180 degree turn, the corners that change the course of our life. This particular Monday morning was one of those important angles. I was embarking on a journey that would challenge not only my reflection, but my insecurities, strength, patience, judgment, and most importantly, my ability to trust and become a student.

However, there would be months of agonizing practice before I had this depth of perception. The first three weeks, yes, I too was certifiable and returned for more, I went home and fell down. But when I got up, I always felt better!

Month 3

I got myself organized with water intake, how to replace my electrolytes and I traded my long pants for a pair that ended at my chubby knees. Now I understand the brilliance of Capri pants, dimples around the knees can be completely avoided if worn correctly. However, the new yoga pants were much cooler, especially as I envisioned myself in the arctic floating on an iceberg. I was practicing 2-3 times per week. I had conquered the breathing, which made a huge difference.

Around the 5 months mark, I moved the length of my pants to “shorts”, which truly helped with the heat. By now I was seeing improvement in my practice; I could finally lift my feet 2

inches off the ground in some of the postures. I had a teacher who tapped me on the thigh and said, “lock your knee”. I thought she was mad, I was locking my knee. But by exposing the joint in shorts, she touched my thigh and told me to “tighten the muscle”. I hadn’t been approaching the posture correctly and now she could see it. I was busted. Oh it hurt, but not so much today.

I was still wearing long tops, no desire to look at my imperfections by going with a shorter top that many of the other women wore. Yes, the instructor said “look at your ribcage in the mirror”, but I wasn’t ready for more truth. More than ribs on that midsection.

7 months in to my practice, the studio announced there would be a competition in December. Anyone could participate, regardless of the level of competence. I was intrigued. I wasn’t young and nubile, but I was dedicated. Seeing and feeling the transformation that was taking place only made me want more. With encouragement from Meghan, the studio owner, a woman of impeccable vision, not because she encouraged me, for what she has created!, I signed up to participate in the advanced classes. I got more than I bargained for. We weren’t “competing” in the traditional sense, against one another; we were learning to compete with ourselves. To push ourselves literally into new positions. We uncovered our individual strengths. And a strong supportive team emerged. And so did my midsection. Again with encouragement from the other women in the group, I purchased a top that would keep me cooler and assisted me in correcting some of my postures. As was with my knee, there were things I needed to see. And seeing my midsection helped me assess when I needed to stop eating those delicious Miss Vickies Salt and Vinegar potato chips!

Month 9

I continued to practice. The competition was over, and I had successfully learned that each day could provide its own challenge if I remained open. We had a visiting teacher during the competition and I clearly remember her saying, “just wait until you’ve been practicing for 5 years.” 5 Years, wow, that’s dedication. I wondered if the practice would be engaging enough to keep me enthralled. Entrenched now in the student role, I thought I’d hang in to see if there would be more change.

I discovered that each new teacher didn’t vary much from the dialogue that accompanied the 26 postures; rather my ears would suddenly hear an instruction as though it was being said

for the first time. It put me on alert for the possibility of not hearing clearly outside the studio in other areas of my life.

During the same time period (and again with the ongoing support from other women), I got cooler, because my pants got shorter. I was learning to make friends with my cellulite, I couldn’t help it, my face was inches away from it. Through that friendship I began making different dietary choices in order to say

“goodbye” to some of those old, old acquaintances. One Year Anniversary

Right around the time I had been practicing for year I forgot my yoga clothes at home. I was faced with a big choice. Did I go home, or did I purchase the shorts on the rack, the shortest ones yet. To wear, or not to wear? I didn’t go home. I made the purchase and into the back corner to practice I went. I’ve since moved out of the corner!

And Now I’m Celebrating Two Years of Practice

So what’s the point of this seemingly narcissistic calendar of yoga pants? Really, why share this diary?

Because I’m grateful. Passionately so. I want to share my experience because I think we all deserve to feel this good. Someone took me by the hand, or I may have never crossed the threshold at Bradford St in Barrie, (which is directly across from Dairy Queen, and I NEVER been tempted since I began). I thought, based on the website pictures, this yoga is only for “beautiful people”. Luckily for me, the next time we drove by my husband cranked the steering wheel and into the studio we went.

For two years now I have had world-class teachers in a state-of-the-art facility. The rewards have been multiple through dedication, theirs and mine. When I meet people who have any type of ailment, I long for a prescription pad where I could write, Bikram Yoga Barrie. Take at least 3 times a week.

I’ve many ways to measure my practice today, I can touch my head to my knee, my dress size is the smallest in 20 years, bending backwards has a whole new meaning, my skin has the “Bikram glow”, I sweat the small stuff in the studio and not outside it, my prescription for thyroid meds is lower, and I can wear heels again as the osteoarthritis in my foot is completely manageable.

But forever a retail girl, I still measure my journey by new pants. And I’ve moved on. I’m so over the black yoga wardrobe. Nothing but happy pants for me!

Let me finish by saying my first impression of Bikram Yoga Barrie being only for “beautiful people” was totally correct. However, not in the way I had originally imagined. Meghan has created an environment that celebrates the beauty of all us, not in spite of, but because of differences in age, size and shape!