Balancing Act: Conversations with a 2018 Yoga Champion

Giselle Meagher Yoga.jpg

Saturday, March 17, Giselle Meagher competed in the West Coast Regional Yoga Championship and earned first place! 

Giselle, or "Jazzy" as we affectionately know her at the Studio, began her yoga practice here at SHY in 2011. She trained in 2014 with Lara Alexiou to receive her first 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training Certification. Since that time she has traveled the world to study yoga and improve her personal practice. She returned to SHY last month to bring our students the e84 Intermediate to Advanced Workshop.

We asked her a few questions on the USA Yoga Competition:

SHY: Some people feel that yoga and competition don't go together and actually go against the nature of yoga. Can you comment on this? 

GM: I used to feel that yoga, which is not a sport, is “non-compete,” so that “competing” does go against yoga philosophy. But I changed my outlook.

Walking on stage and stepping on “the X” to perform six postures in three minutes, I am in a
“competition” against myself, rather than against others. That is to say, most of the time it is easy to doubt yourself. The so-called “monkey mind” can take over, saying “you cannot do it.” Through the breath, you can find stillness in the postures and prove to yourself that you can do it.

SHY: What was your greatest challenge in reaching this goal? 

Finding balance between my regular practice and the actual training for competition, drawing a line between the path I am trying to walk to become a yogi and the lifestyle that comes with serious training as an athlete.

SHY: What did the training process entail? In the moments you wanted to quit, what kept you
motivated? 

GM: Training for competition means changing your lifestyle completely. It’s a balancing act between your job, your personal life, and the time you spend in “The Room.” Everything has to happen “organically” from one day to the next.

And pursing that balance actually taught me a lesson in Karma yoga: to focus on performing
an action for the sake of performing it, rather than for the sake of the outcome.

Finally, what kept me motivated was and is my coach, teacher, and mentor Kim Tang. (I like to
also call her “guru,” but she gets a little defensive when I call her that.) So, if you ever think about competing, the first thing you want to do is find yourself a coach!

SHY: What made you walk into your first yoga class at SHY all those years ago?

GM: I was simply looking for something. I was in a failing relationship that I could not let go of,
and was working at an unsatisfying corporate job which I wanted to be happy about – it was
paying my bills – but wasn’t. So, bottom-line, I was looking to learn about non-
attachment and to connect to gratitude.

I knew nothing about yoga, but something told me that yoga was going to help me look within. Searching online, other yoga studios’ schedules seemed overcomplicated and intimidating. The SHY site seemed to basically say “Come as you are, and just start.” It seemed the place I was looking for. And it was.

SHY: Any words for the brand new beginner yogi who may be afraid to get started?

GM: Some quotes I have always found inspiring and motivating:

“The great thing about yoga is that you don’t have to be good at yoga to be good at yoga.” –
Lara Alexiou
“Never too old, never too bad, never too late, never too sick, to start from scratch again.” –
Bikram Choudhury
“Start where you’re at, do what you can, always and only with breath and with form.” – Kim Tang
“Practice and all is coming.” – Pattabhi Jois
 Giselle Meagher and Lara Alexiou having fun in personal practice time at the Studio.

Giselle Meagher and Lara Alexiou having fun in personal practice time at the Studio.