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 Competition–may 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.