The Northern California Regional Yoga Competition is set for Saturday, October 25 in San Francisco. Since I started competing in the event (this will be my third year), I’ve come to understand their contribution to my own personal growth. It’s three minutes of seven postures with either confidence and poise or anticipation and anxiety. I’ve experienced both. As I look back, each approach, has been an authentic expression of my devotion to my yoga, to myself, to my commitment to self-realization.

Last year was particularly illuminating. Bikram Yoga San Jose hosted the competition held at Mitty High School. It was a very special day. We partnered with the Autism Network to make the competition a fundraiser for Autism Awareness. Peter Finch of KFOG emceed the event and the competitors came from all over the Bay Area.

I remember my excitement getting up on stage to do my seven poses in front of my friends and colleagues. As I was in “standing bow” however, lowering my body parallel to the floor, a part of me said, “that’s enough.” I recall coming out of the pose quickly, and moving on to the remaining postures. While it may seem trivial, I couldn’t shake a feeling that my performance was, somehow, incomplete. This feeling stayed in mind well after the competition ended. I didn’t understand why I felt unfinished until I picked my feelings apart. I realized that I had played it safe, and for what? What did I have to lose? To me, it was an important realization. The competition gave me an insight, a deeper awareness, into a tendency that might well be affecting other parts of my life.

All the different aspects of a person-body, mind and spirit – have one curious quality: If they cease to be exercised, they stop growing, they begin to atrophy. That is why, no matter how much you have accomplished and no matter how old you are, you must keep exercising all parts of yourself. We only grow when we are challenged. Muscles do not strengthen without resistance. Mental faculties do not sharpen without critical thinking. The spirit does not soar without something to excite it.” –365 Tao, Daily Meditations, Deng Ming-Dao.

The 60 Day Challenge is another way to “step up” on a stage and cultivate a razor-sharp mind, in-shape body and dedication to the art of yoga. Remarks from members who completed this year’s challenge underscore the power of the challenge to illuminate aspects of people’s lives far beyond the yoga studio:

“I became stronger, more disciplined and confident in doing things that I would not have otherwise. Everyday in class, I kept discovering something new about myself. It strengthened my belief in the human spirit,” –Sathya

“Yoga is assisting me in my spiritual search for peace of mind, respect for living in the present and letting go of a judgmental mind,” –Bill

“The 60 Day Challenge was a great lesson in dealing with adversity, distraction and discipline. I am more positive and more confident. If you have never done the challenge, then break through that barrier in your mind. Starting the challenge is harder than finishing it,” –Jason

Like the yoga competition, the 60 Day Challenge is a way to reinforce our ability to accomplish anything we choose to focus on. I am reminded of Bikram watching 300 students underestimate their own ability to do a pose. “You are in fear,” he would scream. “Negative thoughts, critical thoughts, doubts, are nine times more powerful than positive ones.”

“Everyone has the potential. It is all about conquering your limiting beliefs, limitations on the self,” noted BYSJ member, Ernie Reyes, who not only completed the 60 Day Challenge but continued his yoga for 173 days in a row!

“I felt stuck in a body and a life that didn’t reflect my full potential. Somehow I knew that yoga was a way out. In countless ways, it gave me the confidence in the power of my will to achieve anything that I set my mind to. I came to truly learn that yoga is the best medicine for many things that I was feeling bad about,” stated Cindy after completing the 60 Day Challenge with a perfect score!

This newsletter is devoted to any and all working to transform themselves. What is possible for you? Whether it is yoga or other areas of your life, break out of your comfort zone and challenge the potential within you. The self-discovery such endeavors inspire will light the way along your path.

This month (see below), BYSJ is offering a second chance to any student that came only once during the “10 for $20” Challenge. Members, if you have friends that are ready to give this yoga a try again, then please pass this on!

In addition, in the spirit of celebrating the accomplishments of our 60 Day Challengers, we are offering a few other promotions that continue the momentum these challengers started to boost you into a more frequent practice.

Bikram’s famous quote may sound simple and be easily dismissed, but see the wisdom in the words: “Never too old, never too sick, never too late, to do yoga and start from scratch once again.”