USA Yoga has invited me to compete in the 2020 Northeast Regional Asana Championship. My video submission scored very well - it was one of the best in my division - and now the real training begins as I intensely prepare for this competition. I know many of you will be thinking that the words yoga and competition should never be in the same sentence, however, this is not a yoga competition. It is an asana competition, much like a gymnastics competition. It should interest all of you that I don't care about winning or losing. My goal is to honor my teachers, the ones who threw me into the fire to see if I could survive, the ones who tested me, guided me on a daily basis, and forged me into a yogic katana blade so sharp and honed at 126 pounds that I became the best version of myself. I also honor my teachers' teachers before me: Bikram, Bishnu Ghosh, Lahiri Mahasaya, Mahavatar Babaji, and, of course, Lord Krishna, who is basically God. I want to show everyone what it means to train at Hot Yoga Philadelphia on a daily basis, the sacrifices and level of commitment you need to make, and how a little girl from Brooklyn who was told she had no athletic ability all her life can do all of this with a happy, smiling face. Breathe, believe, and do!
January 10, 2020, 6:00am - class 901 Bikram 75 - Oddly, only one student showed up today and he wanted to try the 75-minute version of my class, so I taught it the same way as on Sunday and it still ended in 75 minutes, thus proving that you can have two sets of Eagle and one set of Tree/Toe, Fixed Firm, and Head to Knee with Stretching and still end on time without the need for supersets. "I like the timing and pace of your 75 minute class," the student said.
January 12, 2020, 10:00am - Core 26
January 13, 2020, 6:00am - class 902 with Justin Riley - 133.7 today. We held Standing Head to Knee longer than usual in the second set. I stopped at my elbows and held still... for a long time. I didn't care how long we held it. I reversed out with a small glitch. Esak Toe Stand was a little wobbly. I did two good Camels and Rabbits. My friend Tina told me that a student, who was in the class I taught for Joel two weeks ago, said I did a marvelous job picking up the class right after the in-class emergency and was amazed that we ended on time.
January 14, 2020, 6:00am - class 903 with Kaitlin McCoale - 133.2 today. "Looking good, Clare!" Kaitlin said, as I held my Eagle. I fell out in Standing Head to Knee, but I was strong going in. I stretched higher on my right side in Standing Bow than at any time in recent memory. Kaitlin's humor helped us get through the difficult times in class.
January 15, 2020, 6:00am - class 904 with Brittni Deveraux - 132.3 today. "Nice, Clare!" Brittni said of my Floor Bow. My recent strategy is to kick my legs up first before I look up towards the ceiling. You're not supposed to look at the ceiling anyway, as the Ghosh Yoga folks - Scott and Ida Jo Lamps - tell us. The original Floor Bow looks very different from the contortionist version we've come to know and expect from Bikram Yoga practitioners. Mine is somewhere in between. After class, Brittni taught another student the finer points of Spine Twist. I looked on, eager to gather any and all information about this posture.
January 15, 2020, 6:30pm - Core 26 - Perhaps the best compliment a yoga teacher can get is when one of her students says, "I want to look like you!" "You will. Just keep coming to yoga," I said to her. Hot yoga is the best way for a person to look their best. Not weightlifting, not running, not martial arts, and not archery. I've done all of them and you will not stay in the same great physical shape as hot yoga.
January 16, 2020, 6:00am - class 905 with Colleen Hoplamazian - 129.6 today. "Nice, Clare!" Colleen said of my Half Moon backbend and Locust. I fell out gracefully in Standing Head to Knee, almost touching my forehead to my knee. I practiced Separate Arms Balancing Stick in the second set of Balancing Stick and Fish in the second set of Fixed Firm.
One of my friends doesn't seem to understand the sacrifices and commitment needed to prepare for an asana championship. "Oh, I could probably beat everyone in that contest," he said to me. I was thoroughly offended by his overconfident remark. "You can't even squeeze your palms together over your head! How can you hope to compete against these people?" I replied. "I've taken a yoga class with you before. I give myself a B+ grade in that," he said. "No, I hate to say this, but you're just okay. Not B+. Just okay," I said. He's more like a D- than a B+. The types of poses you have to do to win a championship are graded and then offset with a multiplier, just like Olympic gymnastics contests.
January 17, 2020, 6:00am - class 906 Bikram 75 - I ended at 71 minutes with all the same postures and intensity as my previous Bikram 75 classes. You really can include two sets of Eagle in the Bikram 75. I told my student about the upcoming asana championship and he was very excited for me.
January 18, 2020, 9:00am - class 907 with Joel Pier - 129.6 today. I practiced some of the postures in my asana routine before class: Fish, Spine Twist, Archer, and Eight Angle. Practicing Fish twice prevented me from doing a good Camel. We held some postures for way too long in class today. We ran out of time, so Joel had to omit Savasana from the last two postures and Kapalabhati.