Divine Diversity

The 2013 International Yoga Championships are just around the corner. As a studio owner, teacher, past competitor, student, judge and coach, I find this to be one of the great highlights of the year. It’s a time where we celebrate the hard work and achievements from yogi’s and yogini’s from all the world.

I have had the privilege to coach Ali Godoy this year as she represents USA in Youth Division. Some of you have stumbled upon the coaching sessions in the lobby and I know we have all been in awe of this amazing 13 year old.

Ali recently won a writing award on an essay she wrote about cultural diversity and Bikram Yoga. BYMV is one divine, cultural melting pot of yogi’s. This makes the studio globally welcoming. We come from different parts of the world, but all practicing the same thing.

I leave you with an excerpt of Ali’s essay. For a 13 year old, she has the heart and soul of an ageless being.

Thank you Ali for your words and inspiration and BYMV will be rooting for you all the way.

“I embrace cultural diversity through my practice of Bikram yoga. Because it is an Indian tradition present in the Western world, it is an example of a spread of ideas and customs. Bikram yoga has many health benefits, both physical and mental. Schools are required by state laws to ensure that students get a minimum amount of physical education, but for students who once were “professional” athletes this amount is not sufficient. I was a figure skater who competed at a National level and subsequently practiced for up to four hours a day.

When I stopped figure skating I had an excess amount of energy, as I was used to rigorous physical activity. Bikram yoga provides exercise and an outlet for my energy. It helps strengthen and tone muscles, increase flexibility, and detoxify the body. The heat in the yoga room as well as the postures helps heal the deep-tissue injuries I have as remnants of my figure skating days. Bikram yoga also increases a connection between the mind and the body (an awareness of what certain muscles are used for and how to use them). This connection helps me with other sports such as hurdles because I know how to control my muscles correctly and avoid injury.

Bikram yoga also taught me how to take confidence in my own abilities and exposed me to people of many different cultures. Recently I competed in the National Yoga Asana Championship and took second place in the youth division, qualifying me to compete in the International Yoga Asana Championship in June. Some people may argue that competition goes against the spirit of yoga, but those involved in the competition understand that the exact opposite is true. The National and International competition brings together people of all races and ages to celebrate their love of yoga. The purpose of competing is to achieve personal growth by performing under pressure and to showcase your abilities to the judges. Competitors are extremely supportive of one another; often they will stretch and train together or give each other tips on how to improve their poses. All of the competitors come from different backgrounds and their mannerisms reflect their respective cultures. While talking to some of the adult competitors, I learned about their heritage and why they chose to practice yoga. Learning about their experiences helps me prepare for life as an adult and offers me insight on how to make good decisions.

Cultural diversity is one of the foundations of modern day America. The United States is considered the land of opportunity because people of all backgrounds can succeed and make a living for themselves. Our collective culture is a medley of different customs and beliefs that originated in places all over the world. By embracing cultural diversity I have learned about the traditions of people from a multitude of countries, improved my self-confidence, and preserved my health. Cultural diversity promotes tolerance and respect; embracing multiculturalism is the way to a better future.”

Thank you Ali.