The Journal Gazette
Sunday, May 10, 2020 1:00 am

Yoga poses spur family challenge

Facebook fans follow cousins' competition

BLAKE SEBRING | For The Journal Gazette

While some people are doing Zoom happy hours, conducting classes on FaceTime or arguing politics on Facebook, there's a group of female cousins who are seeing how quickly they can risk their own injuries and maim their husbands.

No, it's true!

Growing up in the Leo-Cedarville area, the women were competitive at everything, especially in the pool or on the farm. Challenges were always being extended, and that competitiveness has carried over now that they are all married and even parents. And everyone else can benefit by checking out their stunts and get a few laughs.

One of the cousins posted some couples' yoga poses on Facebook and then taunted the others. Challenge accepted!

“My husband and I thought it would be fun to try them,” said Rachel Bushong, wife of Scott. “We make everything a competition. It just makes life fun, and it keeps us on our toes and doing something.”

On their toes literally, in fact. The Bushongs, who are both 37, posted a picture of a pose on April 6 and challenged Rachel's two sisters and her cousins and their spouses to match it. Thus “The Family Yoga Challenge” was created.

The competition starts with one couple posting a back-breaking pose and then challenging the others to copy it, including the correct toes pointing, arms extended and backs arched, all with a smile. There was even one that concluded with a kiss. The husbands serve as platforms, lifting their wives into the air and providing stability so they can balance like gymnasts from Cirque du Soleil.

“I don't think any of our husbands had to be convinced,” Rachel Bushong said. “They are all gamers and live to have fun. No one is too serious about things.”

Especially since the men are all former high school, college or even professional athletes. The grunting challenges are almost audible in the pictures.

And the thing is, the couples have actually gotten pretty good at it and have attracted hundreds of Facebook followers who can't wait to see what they come up with next. If there's not a new pose posted every few days, the contestants hear about it from their followers.

“We've been surprised at how many messages we've been getting from people about those poses on Facebook,” said Leo volleyball coach Ashlee Robbins, who turns 35 on June 23. “It's just something fun, and we all need some fun right now.”

Her husband is Will Robbins, a former professional volleyball player and current owner of Empowered Sports Club. He turns 44 on June 5. They already do couples yoga three times a week.

“It's just great for strength and flexibility and great rehab to keep the back in shape,” Will Robbins said. “There are a lot of yoga poses that stress balance and strength. Trying to get into that pose is kind of comical sometimes.”

Usually, new poses are posted every other day, but one hitch is that one cousin and her husband live in Australia, which is 16 hours ahead of Fort Wayne. They are always trying to catch up.

“There's never really a super clear winner,” said Rebekka MarcAurele. “We all just post it and we're all excited for each other when we get it. At the beginning, we said there was a winner, and now we're all just excited for each other when they post the final picture. We're such a tight, close family that we're all just there for each other when it comes to that.”

MarcAurele is 32 and her husband, Dave, is 39. Other relatives participating include Dr. Tyler and Deedee Atkins from Australia, Cooper and Suzie Housley from Tennessee and Dr. William and Dr. Chelsey Farmer in Kentucky.

Flair has been added sometimes with costumes or maybe one of the guys flexing with a free arm. The Bushongs' daughter Emerson, 6, has also been getting involved a little. Scott Bushong even added a nonpermanent COVID-19 tattoo for one pose. Extra points are always added for humor.

So far, there haven't been any significant injuries besides a bruised posterior or two. Usually, the poses take about 15-to-20 minutes to practice and figure out the positioning and then sometimes another 10 minutes to perfect for the pictures.

More couples have been joining in and posting pictures. The Robbinses even persuaded her parents, James and Debbie Roth, to give one a try and they were declared the winners that day by consensus.

Things are getting a little more serious as the couples try finding poses that are more challenging. After all, bragging rights are on the line.

“It's something fun that keeps us all together,” Rebekka MarcAurele said. “No matter what, if we haven't seen each other for a while or talked for a while, if we post something like this they are all going to jump in and do it.”

So despite all the groans and potential bruises, no one is backing down yet, which means the contest could continue infinitely, which will entertain everyone else.

“We just did it as a fun thing for our family, but to see how many other people it has brought some joy and a little bit of laughter into their life during a dark time gave us the motivation to continue beyond just the competitiveness with the family,” Will Robbins said. “There are a lot of people who need some positivity and encouragement during these times. Us doing some dumb poses and showing some bloopers, if it brings a little bit of happiness and joy into people's lives, let's keep doing it.”

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