Jul 4th, 2015
We catch up with Bikram Teacher – Laura who recently represented the UK in the Yoga Championship in Prague, to find out more about the experience, her preparation for the event and what tips she has for students who want to improve and progress in their own practise.
Laura, congratulations in your recent Yoga competition in London and Prague, can you tell us a bit about the Yoga Championships?
People are often very surprised that a yoga championship exists and some even vehemently oppose it, as the very nature of Yoga is non-competitive, but Yoga asana championships have been happening in India for the last 2000 years. It is the postures that are being judged, it is not saying ‘this person is a better yogi that that one’. Each competitor has 3 minutes on stage to demonstrate their strength, flexibility and balance. There are compulsory elements as well as optional postures.
How many years have you been involved?
I first took part in 2012. The idea was put to me several years before that but it took a while before I had the guts to get up on stage. My Dad had recently passed away, and one of the last things he said to me was that I had to be brave. What better way to honour my courageous Dad.
You did really well in London competition, coming 3rd and then went through to the Championships in Prague, did you enjoy the experience?
I am learning to enjoy the competition more. The U.K championship was a very small affair this year and took place in one of the London studios, so I actually felt pretty relaxed. I remember thinking to myself ‘just breathe’ and my advice to myself worked!
Prague was different as the competition took place in the middle of a shopping centre, and the stage felt like a big black hole. I was delighted to have got through my routine without falling out of a posture, but when I looked back at the video my performance was very rushed. Time seemed to go in slow motion when I was up there, but I have definitely learned from this experience.
We know that you are consistent in practising and teaching lots of Bikram classes each week, how often did you practise the routine and how did you prepare for the event?
The more times you practice the routine, the more automatic it becomes, the body remembers it, so your body can do it’s thing even when you are faced with nerves. I like to visualise my routine too. This is one of the things that Hypnotherapist Sarah Hoare taught me. I can lie down and relax and go through every minute detail of my routine.
I always have the feeling that I could train more, practice more, backbend more. There is always more that I can do but I am pretty busy what with teaching in Bristol and London, and I need to look after myself in order to find balance in my life
Some of the students were lucky enough to have a preview of your competition routine, can you tell us which postures you chose and why?
Thank you to the students for watching my routine as having an audience is a great way for me to prepare. We have to select postures that cover certain elements, for example. A forward bend, a back bend, a spine stretch and a spine twist, along with two optional postures. I did Standing Head to Knee, Standing Bow, Stretching, Full Spine Twist, Crow and Crane. The last three postures are taken from the Bikram advanced series.
Was it a big event in Prague with all ages competing?
There was a Youth category and a Seniors category (over 50′s) In the regular category there were 10 men and 24 women competing from all over Europe.
How did you manage to stay focused?
The hypnotherapy I had last year with Sarah Hoare ( www.sarahhoare.co.uk) gave me lots of tools to help me focus and be the best that I can be.
My yoga practice teaches me to live in the present moment and above all just to breathe!
What are your top tips for students who wish to improve and make progress in their Bikram practise?
I believe that every student wants to improve and make progress in their practice. They can do that by showing up and staying in the present moment and not being afraid to step out of their comfort zone.
For students who want to advance their practice and take part in the competition, it is a good idea to develop a homework routine, extra stretches and backbends done outside of the regular class. Come and speak to me about homework and about the Advanced class!