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This Saturday, Bikram Yoga Chelmsford is sending 5 yogis to the New England Regional Yoga Asana Championships at The Music Hall in Portsmouth, N.H.

Along with other athletes from all over the New England region, Sara Waggener, Terri Fry, Peter Kline, Corlese Todd, and Jasmine Bou-Nassif will each spend 3 minutes on a silent, brightly lit stage, performing a yoga routine in front of an audience and a team of judges. (Scroll down to read an interview with each of our hometown competitors!)

It takes dedication to one’s regular practice, extra work in the hot room, curiosity about one’s potential for growth, intense focus, and a whole lot of courage to get up on that stage and compete.

It’s a special, exciting day. If you can possibly make it up to Portsmouth, the competition begins at 11:00 am and runs until 5:00 pm. There are vendors, yogis from all over New England competing and spectating, and inspiration galore! More information at the New England Regional Yoga Asana Championships website.

If you can’t make it, definitely catch it on Livestream.

And read on to learn more about our BYC competitors! Go, Team BYC!!

Sara Waggener

How many years have you been competing?

This is my second year.

What or who inspired you to first train for competition?

Not one person in particular. Everyone at BYC who competed in January 2016.

Which postures are you including in your routine this year?

Rabbit, Standing Bow, Upward Stretching, Half Spine Twist, Crow, and Split Arm.

Which is the most challenging for you?SaraW.competitiondressrehearsal

Upward Stretching.

Has anything surprised you about training/preparing for the competition?

Not really. I competed in gymnastics for many years so there are a lot of similarities.

What would you tell someone who was on the fence about training for next year’s regionals?

Do it! It’s lots of fun and you’re already really awesome because you do Bikram yoga.

If you’ve competed before, what have you taken from the process?

Practicing is the key. It doesn’t have to be just your routine. Focusing in class, running through the transitions, and especially running through my routine in my head over and over have been what really helped me.

Anything else you’d like to share?

You have to own your space and feel comfortable. The key isn’t that you are the best at the posture but that you feel good about doing it. It’s a lot more about your mind than your body. Your body has its limitations that you can’t control, but you can change your mind a lot more easily. If you go in with the right mindset, you can’t lose no matter what your score.

Terri Fry

How many years have you been competing?

This will be my 7th time competing.

What or who inspired you to first train for competition?

Esak Garcia, Johnny Mock, Cynthia Weir, Ashley Hooper, Ida Ripley: all amazing yogis. I was so inspired watching them all compete and I remember thinking, “I want to do that!”

Which postures are you including in your routine this year?screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-8-24-28-pm

Standing Head to Knee, Standing Bow, Stretching, Half Spine Twist, Upward Stretching and One Legged Peacock.

Which is the most challenging for you?

Stretching and Upward Stretching. I’ve always struggled with my flexibility and I’m very happy to have made progress in both these postures. Building strength had always been easier for me.

Has anything surprised you about training/preparing for the competition?

How much I continue to learn about the postures and how my body has changed.

What would you tell someone who was on the fence about training for next year’s regionals?

Do it! It will change your practice and how you view the world and for teachers, it will make you a better, stronger teacher.

If you’ve competed before, what have you taken from the process?

Improved focus and humility.

Anything else you’d like to share?

In those three minutes, in front of an audience, in a hot pink leotard, you connect with yourself, with your breath, with who YOU ARE and what you can achieve in such a way that you can feel your life force radiating out to the larger world while at the same time to every cell in your body. It is an awesome expression of a total mind body connection!

Peter Kline

How many years have you been competing?

This will be my second year competing.

What or who inspired you to first train for competition?

Melissa Rodenhiser! Melissa taught weekends at the studio I attended and we would play around in the lobby before class doing different non-Bikram poses. It was mostly a game of ‘look at this pose’, ‘I can do that’, ‘can you do this’, and then she started to tell me about a yoga competition and that I should enter. Knowing as we all do that there is no such thing as a yoga competition I initially thought she was teasing me. When she convinced me there was indeed such a thing and kept hinting and nudging I finally thought why not look into it as I couldn’t think of anything farther outside my comfort zone! She then put me in touch with three charming women from something called ‘Team Chelmsford’ and when I emailed them and expressed some interest all three of them got back to me instantly saying come on by we would love to have you here. By now my curiosity had the best of me so I went to the Team Chelmsford meeting and found myself the only male in a room with more than a dozen women and the three whom I had emailed; Corlese, Louise and Terri.

Second thoughts abounded and I was still not really sure if I would follow through with this until I heard the dedication and commitment from everyone and their tales of what it meant to them. At that point I thought to myself that these are some of the nicest people I have ever meant and if it means that much to them then I am all in.

No regrets!

screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-8-25-00-pmWhich postures are you including in your routine this year?

Rabbit, Bow, Upward Stretching, Spine Twist, Peacock, Headstand.

Which is the most challenging for you?
They all have little idiosyncrasies (as do we!) to performing them well so they all present a challenge although I would have to say Peacock is more demanding than the others as it has a few more moving parts than the rest.

Has anything surprised you about training/preparing for the competition?

How difficult it is doing it alone. Without the benefit of training partners for both inspiration and corrections it becomes rather subjective.

What would you tell someone who was on the fence about training for next year’s regionals?
I would only ask for the opportunity to speak to them myself to try and convey the personal satisfaction from training and competing and to tell them that you are only ‘competing’ with yourself. I don’t think anyone is ever completely satisfied with their routine but doing it as well as you can means you won, pure and simple.

Sound a little like the dialog in every class?
If you’ve competed before, what have you taken from the process?

Certainly what you learn about yourself but you are also exposed to this world of the nicest and most supportive people you will find. As in anything, only someone who has done it can fully appreciate what you are doing and what it takes to do it so virtually every competitor is so supportive of each other, whether teammates or total strangers.

You have no idea what you can do until you try!

Anything else you’d like to share?

I found myself in a position where based on the degree of difficulty in my routine I realistically could not place any higher without someone else making a mistake. As soon as I realized that I went and cheered for them to do well and was the first one to congratulate them on their routines. After having the privilege of coaching my four beautiful children and so many of their friends and constantly preaching good sportsmanship it was incredibly satisfying to actually practice what you preach!

If I work harder then I can do better. I want to win through my efforts not someone else’s misfortune.

It’s been so much fun doing this and I have met so many nice people (the interrogator included) and I can only hope I’m able to retain that enthusiasm until they refuse to let me compete anymore!

Corlese Todd

How many years have you been competing?

This will be my second year. I competed my first time in 2013 and the past 2 years I’ve been coaching team BYC!

What or who inspired you to first train for competition?

Honestly, I was a fairly new student when I first competed (only practicing for about a year+) and I watched former competitors Marie Dean and Colleen LeMay practice their routines during class one day. I was in complete awe! I thought, “Ya, I’m going to do that!”

Which postures are you including in your routine this year?screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-8-25-11-pm

Standing Head to Knee, Standing Bow, Stretching, Half Spine Twist, Upward Stretching and Crow

Which is the most challenging for you?

They are all challenging in different ways, but I guess if I had to pick just one posture, I would say Upward Stretching. It is one thing to stretch down (like in Hands to Feet) or stretch with legs on the floor (final stretching), but it is a whole new world having to do that same stretch while balancing on your sitz bones and stretching up against gravity.

Has anything surprised you about training/preparing for the competition?

I was surprised at how forgetful I was at first. Even though I was involved in coaching the past 2 years, when it came to me preparing my own routine, I was at first a bit clumsy!

What would you tell someone who was on the fence about training for next year’s regionals?

DO IT! It’s so fun and such a rewarding challenge. No matter what happens the day you compete, you WILL float off stage. It’s exhilarating. Plus the training process will truly help to not only improve your postures, but more importantly your understanding of the postures and the practice of yoga.

If you’ve competed before, what have you taken from the process?

It always comes down to your breath. The number one thing you need to practice is how to breathe through those 3 long minutes. And smile! It’s the best way to calm your nerves.

Jasmine Bou-Nassif
How many years have you been competing?
This is my first year competing in yoga, although I did dance competitively back in the day.
What or who inspired you to first train for competition?
I kept hearing Louise and Terri mention the competition during class, and to attend the info session even if there was just an inkling of curiosity. I had that inkling and I decided to give it a shot and challenge my body and mind.
screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-8-25-27-pmWhich postures are you including in your routine this year?
I will be doing: Rabbit, Standing Bow Pulling, Upward Stretching, Half Spine Twist, One Legged Peacock, and Split Arm
Which is the most challenging for you?
All of these postures come with their own challenges and every day with them is different. I’d say split arm is the most challenging because I think too much. It’s true that it all comes back to your breathing, if you focus on that you’ll be surprised what you can do.
Has anything surprised you about training/preparing for the competition?
I am surprised at how different my postures are after training for about 3 months. I’ve come very far, and realized I can do more than I thought. It’s exciting to feel your body and mind get stronger.
What would you tell someone who was on the fence about training for next year’s regionals?
I would tell someone to make sure they had time to dedicate to practicing for a competition because like in anything you need to work at it. But ultimately, I say go for it! You never know what you can do until you try, and you may surprise yourself. I’ve been told that a yoga competition is different from other competitions because it doesn’t feel like you’re competing with others, but more like you’re challenging yourself. If you’re ready for a new challenge, definitely give competing a try.
If you’ve competed before, what have you taken from the process?
I haven’t competed in yoga before, but I already have some takeaways. First, it’s brought me out of my comfort zone. I started consistently practicing yoga in May after I graduated college. So, my decision to show what I learned in such a short amount of time was really big. Training has really influenced my practice as well. I know what I can accomplish and it makes me excited to continue where I left off every time I go to class. Lastly, it’s amazing what you can do when you set your mind to it; I can, I will definitely rings true!
–Ellen Olson-Brown, Bikram Yoga Chelmsford

 

 

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