6th Annual International
Yoga Asana Championship held at LA
Los Angeles, Feb. 24, 2009
Ainslie Faust/ Gary Singh
6th Annual International Yoga Asana Championship, held at the
Westin Hotel LAX on the weekend of Feb. 7, 2009. The competition
involves five voluntary poses: Standing-head-to-knee; standing bow,
in which you balance on one leg with one arm extended forward and
the other arm drawing back the lifted leg; bow pose, in which, on
the floor, you grab both feet with your hands and arch your back;
rabbit, which involves scrunching up into a little ball; and seated
We have had great success over the past six years with
our yoga championship. Not only has participation grown
from 3 countries to as many as 28 countries worldwide, last year
we also introduced a youth division. The International Championship
is sponsored by the World Yoga Federation, and the US Championship
was sponsored for the first time this year by the USA Yoga Federation.
Our dream is to have yoga included as an Olympic sport. Although
Bikram yogis have dominated the championships to date, this year
the International Men’s division was won by a non-Bikram practitioner.
Our ultimate goal is to include all forms of yoga in our championships.
Yoga Championships inspire and encourage people of all ages to cultivate
the discipline and focus required for a life-long yoga practice.
Born in Kolkata, India in 1965, Rajashree Choudhury started her
yoga training at the urging of her parents at the age of four. She
was the unbeaten five-time winner of the All-India Yoga Championship
Competition from 1979 to 1983.
In the west, most people who practice yoga are first drawn to it
as a non-competitive physical exercise good for relieving stress.
Thousands of people have gained tremendous health benefits from
its therapeutic qualities. Even more are finding mental and spiritual
fulfillment in their practice. Yoga, as it has been transmitted
to us from the great sages through generations of master yogis,
is an unparalleled vehicle for transformation and Self-Realization.
We have proven our vast potential for creating fear and destruction
in the world, but if we are to insure our survival, we must choose
instead a path of enlightened living.
There has been some misunderstanding and dismay about the words
“yoga” and “championship” being said in
the same breath, let alone it being an actual event. While the concept
of a yoga championship is fairly new in the United States, it is
an age-old tradition in India, where yoga has its roots. What most
people in North America do not know is that yoga championships have
been held as far back as 2000 years ago. There are yoga competitions
being held in India almost daily.
Contrary to popular belief, competition starts from the Bhagavad
Gita, where it speaks of how one can control emotion in action,
attain self-improvement, practice selfless love and strive for perfection—all
through competition. It is through this type of competition that
enhancement and self-discipline are created. Perhaps the misunderstanding
of “yoga competition” lies, then, in how competition
is defined. Though yoga is supposed to be non-competitive and non-violent,
there is nothing that says yoga cannot give practitioners the basic
roots of a disciplined mind and a disciplined body. Just like Olympic
gymnasts, yoga competitors are judged on their own skills, flexibility,
strength and poise—not against the next competitor. It is
almost universal that people want to improve emotionally, physically
This concept does not only apply to adults. Children are the future
in our life, the future of our world. To maximize a child’s
potential we need to bring competition into their lifestyle that
will spark a healthy motivation. Yoga competition is an excellent
way to do this that also maintains health while at the same time
teaches children self discipline. Without competition there is no
ambition, and without ambition there is no life.