In a funny twist of fate, I ended up in a Yoga competition. There is no other way to describe it. Bikram Yoga San Jose, where I pretty much live outside of the house, turned 14 over the weekend. To celebrate the anniversary, the teachers were asking some of the regular students who kill themselves trying to outdo their reflection in the front mirror to do a demonstration of their good poses. Raised my hand and said "I will do it"..
Think Revathi in Mouna Ragam movie saying "I will identify the guys" without realizing the consequences... (not all of you will get that one, sorry).
Last Saturday there was a "practice session" to co-ordinate the demonstration. So I stay back after class to see that there are a lot of teachers and two or three students and they are all practicing a 6 poses in 3 minute routine. My turn came to demonstrate and I did 4 poses from the usual sequence we do every day and then there was a blank stare. The coaches looked at me and I looked back at them going "what?"
They said "do you know any poses other than the ones we practice?" and I said "no. I have been doing the same thing over and over again for 6 years now and havent really tried to do more". They said "no problem. can you sit in lotus pose?". Answer was yes. Their eyes lit up. Can you now do a peacock pose in lotus position?
Being a good sport (I have not tried a peacock pose since college days when we would do that pose on the edge of of writing desks in the lecture halls) did try that and failed. Finally after a few other options were tried, I also had 6 poses to show. We practiced that 3 times over 2 hours and just before I was about to go home, the teachers tell me "by the way, there is a competition in the afternoon, same day as the anniversary party. the same three minute routine, but in front of some experienced judges and an audience. why don't you do it there as well? it will be quite an experience!"
I said "will think about it. I have a Asia trip the day after the anniversary party. so it is going to be a hectic week.". What I didnt tell them was that Pongal festival was this weekend and I really wanted to eat a lot of pongal, and one cannot do demonstrations, leave alone compete with a stomach full of pongal (rice, lentiles, jaggery and clarified butter are the main ingredients.. the key ingredient being the ghee).
Did try that routine every day after class was over and was not doing very well on the special poses. They had to be held for 5 seconds minimum and was able to do only 2-3 seconds. Had also bruised my knee in the process of trying the options during the coaching session and it was not making things any easier.
Thursday rolls in. I am at the yoga class at 8:30 in the night. One of my coaches asks me "are you ready for the competition" and I give him the spiel about the bruised knee and not wanting to embarras myself in front of a large crowd and esteemed judges when I cannot hold things for more than 2-3 seconds. He goes "See, I see this all the time. On that day, you go up on stage and the adrenalin kicks in and you go an amazing job. You will have to try it for the experience. Why don't you try it in front of your classmates tonight?"
It is close to 10PM and teacher told the class at the end "please give Sundar 3 minutes of your time. He is going to do a bunch of poses in a competition over the weekend and he could get used to an audience!".
After an exhausting day at work and having done yoga for 90 minutes, gave it a shot in front of 30 odd people and surprisingly my coach was right. He is usually right, and is even more correct when he doesn't make any sense. Somehow was holding things a lot longer in front of a crowd. Guess the human body is very good at making chemicals that help you in certain situations! I did it in 2 minutes and 40 seconds and the teacher said "you have time. you should hold poses longer, but ok job!"
So went home and signed up for the competition. Initially was thinking "who am I competing with?", what does this even mean? etc. etc. To me the only competition is with yesterdays Sundar, when it comes to yoga. Still, this promised to be an interesting experience.
Yesteray afternoon, went in front of a knowledgeble yoga crowd and some big name judges and gave it a shot. It was an interesting experince. I had zero expectations of winning anything. All I wanted to see was :
1. Not fall down
2. Hold the poses for the minimum required time
3. Manage the time so that I don't rush and finish too fast or go over the 3 minute time
4. Smile through it all and have fun
Did accomplish all 4! Did it in 2 minutes 59 seconds. Used every bit of time and held poses for more than 5 seconds on all poses. They were not my best poses. Sometimes I do a better job in class, but it is interesting what happens when you are put on a spot. Your brain and body, mostly brain start doing tricks on your confidence. Muscles that usually don't shake during the poses start acting up..
It was the longest 3 minutes of my life. It was like that guy in the Wanted movie who has his heart beat slow down to the point where he can start seeing the wings of the fly and he can shoot their wings down..
For a few seconds I could not hear anything, see anything. It was just me and a point on the judges table in front of me. Everything else faded away!
Once the three minutes was over, I felt the same thing that we feel at the end of a 90 minute class. Your body is in bits and pieces and your mind is a blank. The reset button was hit!
Yes, why a Yoga competition? is a good question. Why not? is a good answer. If you are a regular yoga student, you should try this competition thing. It is a new "rush" and a new "high"!
and if I can do it, anyone can do it!
ps. I did not have my cell phone with me in the room, but BYSJ has pictures and videos on their FB page.. you can check it out there.