It would be cliché to start with a statement that speaks to the irony of yoga asana and competition — if anything, it begs for a greater understanding of the matter at hand.
A yoga practitioner for over six years, I came away from a recent 2013 IYSF International Yoga Asana Championship* inspired by the strength, flexibility, dedication, and courageousness of its competitors. Ninety-nine of them had traveled to L.A. from all over the world, stepped onto the stage, and demonstrated their love for yoga as an art form. Some stumbled, some fell, others balanced on one leg for what seemed like an eternal second; every muscle quiver was on display, every facial expression indicative of the moment. It takes guts to show up and demonstrate a personal practice in front of a room full of spectators. To find out more about the competitors’ motivations, I went to the source: four yoga asana champions. After my experience at the internationals, I wasn’t surprised that their words spoke to personal growth and camaraderie, and not oneupmanship. You be the judge.