“Out of the eight petals of yoga, the only petal that is exhibitive is the yoga asanas; whereas, the other petals are very individual and personal. As such, there is nothing wrong in holding a competition on the qualitative presentation of the yoga asanas.” BKS Iyengar
Held in India for many years, ‘yoga competition’ is founded on the ideal of spreading interest in yoga throughout the world and focuses on the individual improving his own practice, not competition against opponents. USA Yoga, a non-profit organization formed for the purpose of developing and promoting Yoga Asana as a sport, brings this spirit of healthy competition to the United States, where, according to the most recent study by SGMA, more than 22 million people practice yoga in the US today. USA Yoga believes that the sport of Yoga Asana will inspire many of these practitioners to improve their practices and encourage many newcomers to take up the practice of yoga and the sport of Yoga Asana.
The Texas Yoga Asana Championships, held in Dallas on November 8th, was a celebration of the beauty in the human form. It was a celebration of yoga. Competitors demonstrated that the possibilities of what you can accomplish are boundless with a consistent yoga practice. There was mastery of physical strength, stamina, balance, flexibility, breath and concentration. Each competitor’s demonstration of yoga asana was an insight to that person’s being. They told a story. Each demonstration was an offering, a communication without words.
Why do I compete? I believe that the practice of yoga and Yoga Asana is beneficial for the physical and mental health of all practitioners – children, teens, adults and seniors. Participating in the Championships has encouraged me to sharpen my skills through training, dedication, and devotion to the sport, and hopefully inspires new practitioners to begin a practice which leads to a healthier and happier life. That’s my goal.
Through my experiences on stage, I have learned to move with ease, to make it look effortless. I have learned that it is possible to perform all asana in a meditative way. How to keep the brain cells in a relaxed, receptive, and concentrated state is the art that yoga teaches. The three minute routine is the deepest meditation. I am at once one with myself, and that is meditation. My mind is clear, and I feel at peace.
This year I had the honor of coaching 11 competitors from PURE Bikram Yoga. My goal was clear – I focused on everyone having as much fun as possible while training and competing. I wanted everyone from TEAM PURE to have a positive experience. Rather than focusing on the outcome of each performance, I encouraged each competitor to enjoy the experience. We all practiced the 7:45am Competitor Class before the event and even wore matching MOHAWK costumes. After each of our competitors’ routines, I ran backstage to congratulate them. I was so proud. Some had faced their biggest fear. One of our competitor’s remarked, “I feel like my parents are truly proud of me.”
For me, yoga has offered the greatest opportunity for transformation and healing. This practice has brought health and balance to my life. Participating in competition each year gives me the opportunity to set new goals for myself and work to refine my practice. I hope to inspire people to believe in their unlimited potential.