Competitive yoga has always been controversial. But that never stops the United States Yoga Federation from hosting its annual Yoga Asana Championship.
And this year is no different. On March 5-6, more than 105 yogis from around the country will gather in Los Angeles to compete for the title of the 2011 Yoga Asana Champion in different categories, including male, female, and youth divisions.
Such competitions have been happening in India for years. Bikram Choudhury, creator of Birkram Yoga, has championed their acceptance in the U.S. Choudhury's wife, Rajashree, a five-time winner of the All India Yoga Championship, is the president of the USA Yoga, which sponsors the event and aims to get yoga accepted as an Olympic Sport. Event competitors are judged on physical perfection in their execution of asanas:
The focus of the 2011 Yoga Asana Championship is physically demanding--similar to a gymnastics floor exercise--and competitors are judged on
the perfection of the pose, its difficulty, their poise and composure,
and the grace of movement both into and out of the position.
We want to know: Does the idea of a yoga competition seem counterintuitive or just a natural outgrowth of the physical practice of yoga?