Washington: A yoga organisation in the US, which apparently seeks to give the unconventional practice an Olympic status, is organising a yoga asana, or posture, competition.
Looking for the perfect pose will be the order of the day at the National Yoga Asana Championship, being put on March 2-4 by USA Yoga, which is holding the competition.
Rajashree Choudhury, who founded USA Yoga, insisted that the focus is on yoga postures.
“I’m not trying to measure anybody’s `eight states,” CBS News quoted her as saying while referring the meditative and spiritual aspect of yoga practice.
“The posture can be competitive.”
Participants are required to do a series of seven yoga poses in three minutes. Five are compulsory — standing head-to-knee pose, standing bow-pulling pose, bow pose, rabbit pose, and stretching pose.
The participants are allowed to choose the last two poses themselves.
The poses show “how someone can have perfect strength, balance, flexibility in the body,” Choudhury said.
The winners will be participating in an international competition scheduled for June in Los Angeles.
Yoga pose competitions are held in India, where yoga originated, and elsewhere around the world. Choudhury took part in them while growing up, as did her husband, Bikram Choudhury, founder of the Bikram Yoga form of hot yoga, which comprises a series of 26 poses done in a heated room.
She believes that the competitions can be a way to interest people in yoga who might be put off by the spiritual aspect, by showing them the athletic aspect.
But not all yoga practitioners have the same opinion.
“The roots of yoga are based in acceptance and non-violence and compassion toward self and others,” said Roseanne Harvey, 35, of Montreal, who’s been practicing yoga for 15 years.
She pointed out that in most yoga classes, “what we’re trying to do is encourage students not to compete.”
While saying that the universe of yoga had “room within it for lots of different approaches,” Harvey had some apprehensions about what yoga pose competitions would be promoting, that people could get hurt if the idea filters down that it’s about being able to get into the perfect positions.