USA Yoga championship competition, hosted by Bikram, on cover of NY Times.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Mar 5, 2012
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Click below for the article:

…Rajashree Choudhury, the wife of the Indian yoga master Bikram Choudhury and the founder of USA Yoga, whose long-term goal is to promote asana as a sport for the Olympics, recalled her own childhood competitions in India, where she was a five-time champion and noise was commonplace.

“I’d be in standing head-to-knee,” she explained, “and someone would bang a big steel pan to test my composure.”

Click here for the NYT slideshow:


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


21 Responses to “USA Yoga championship competition, hosted by Bikram, on cover of NY Times.”

  1. oz_ says:

    Hmmm….how long before someone dreams up a 'meditation competition' – although one imagines the slideshow for such a thing would be dreadfully boring. Perhaps fMRI images in place of photos? /sigh

  2. On the one hand, I feel that hatha yoga *is* just exercise, so this doesn't bother me so much. But on the other hand, the benefit, for me, is when I experience hatha yoga as a practice of deep awareness/meditation, regardless of the burn/comfort factor. Just being with whatever is. If it is relegated to just exercise, it's either like drudgery or acrobatics. But if it's awareness practice, it's wonderful and freeing. Whatever it is, it's up to each individual. I don't think asana practice is the key to enlightenment or anything, but it can be healing for the body and mind if practiced without ego and the need to get anywhere.

  3. AnOldTimer says:

    These competitions have been around for a while, though going relatively unnoticed, and they don't bother me much. But if they do get to the Olympics, I think things will get weird. Many times when new sports are added, all that happens is that athletes who are 2nd tier (for lack of a better term) and not quite medalling in their original sport will re-train and transfer over and dominate the new sport, knocking back 'real' competitors. For competative yoga that would mean yogins would be knocked out of the running for the Olympics by experienced gymnasts changing sport. What tenuous hold it has on being about authentic yoga will go right out the window. Right now there's very little keeping it from seeming like gymnast competition as it is.

  4. Katherine says:

    After being a competitive dancer for many years in my youth, I found the non-competitive nature of yoga to be incredibly refreshing. While hatha may be a form of exercise to some, the connection between body and breath is palpable and private. The idea of recognized yoga competition bothers me deeply.

  5. sordog1 says:

    I am mystified by this. I think there should be two names for this. One for real yoga and one for the competition activity. Real yoga is not competitive. That said, I will definitely watch the competition if I have a chance and enjoy it as I would ice dancing, figure skating, and the other artistic activities. I get a lot of pleasure out of seeing what people can do with the human body, especially things I may never be able to do.

  6. kimberleyluu says:

    Lol, the words "yoga competition" itself is an oxymoron

  7. yogijulian says:

    reading yoga body by mark singleton really helps in terms of understanding the context for this kind of competitive/athletic yoga. in many ways it is much more true to the tradition than the fantasy we have formed based on the after the fact merging of ancient texts that have nothing to do with asanas me know it with a gymnastic/fitness based physical practice that evolved between about 1890 and 1950!

    check it out…

  8. yogijulian says:

    only in our contemporary zeitgeist where competition is seen as antithetical to the goal of yoga…. i agree with you, but in the larger context of asana practice, demonstration and competition are an intrinsic part of the story!

  9. yogijulian says:

    all of that said – this does seem like more in the deluge of bad press yoga is getting – not a good thing…

  10. Lynno says:

    …and I stupidly thought yoga wasn’t a competition….

  11. elephantjournal says:

    Chavez Domingo Yoga competition ….. nuff said.
    4 hours ago · LikeUnlike
    Deb Henault Korch There is no competition in yoga.
    4 hours ago · LikeUnlike · 5
    Sally Narvaez Hooper Sorry, but this is too funny. What does the champion win?…..Samadhi? Chuckle, chuckle, chuckle :))
    3 hours ago · LikeUnlike · 2
    Ken West ugh. 🙁
    3 hours ago · LikeUnlike
    Chris Galaxy Well, he owns yoga, doesn't he?
    3 hours ago · UnlikeLike · 4
    Kim Denham Blah.
    3 hours ago · LikeUnlike
    Carrie Schick Sign me up! I will show up "enlightened" then I WIN! How can you beat that right? 🙂
    3 hours ago · LikeUnlike
    Kathi Kizirnis wow, the old gray lady's on a roll : /

    Chavez Domingo I think the NYT is tying to kill yoga…

    Kaat de Corel right no competition in yoga but I enjoyed the asana's
    3 hours ago · LikeUnlike
    Corey Swartsel Just what the yoga movement in America really needs- an infusion of the competitive spirit. That way we can separate the winners from the losers and know for sure who the 'real' practitioners are. Go ego!

    Whitney Grace of course its hosted by Bikram lol

    Garine Boyajian Isassi so wrong
    3 hours ago · LikeUnlike
    Christopher Spiewak I looked up Oxymoron and it stated: "A Yoga Competition"

    Lee Anne Smith Totally disturbing.

    Sara Dasso I wish the west would start distinguishing asana from yoga. They are not interchangeable terms.

    Jennifer DuCharme Im pretty new to yoga, but Im sure there is something really wrong with that, but then again judgment ….right?

    Wendy Dirks This is so wrong. I've just come from an amazing weekend of yoga at Kagyu Samye Ling in Scotland, where our wonderful teacher impressed on us that yoga is not a form of exercise. This makes me very sad.

    Wendy Dirks I've been practicing for 15 years, by the way. I'm 59 years old and yoga continues to reveal itself in my practice while every year that passes, I do fewer and fewer asanas.
    Jennifer, you're right, no judgement – but I think we can feel sad and compassionate.


    Dawn Bell I don't wanna judge, but I'm just so good at it (jk!)

  12. Marianne says:

    Not too happy about this one. Yoga is a personal journey,,,, even if you teach. How can you make a competition out of that? Hmmmm….

  13. Anna Weltman says:

    Everyone is so focused on how bad this is. It has happened…so accept it. Look for something positive in it. I see a very amazing opportunity for a student to see the most correct way that a pose is attained. Since teachers and students of yoga are always striving and always trying to 'perfect their pose', and get closer and closer to the 'perfect execution of their pose', (or posture), here is a chance to see what it should actually look like if perfected. Here you can take in the image, notice all of the details, and it provides you with a visualization that you can take with you back to the studio, and use. It goes slowly enough, with enough repetitions so that you can get a really good look at things. You can see the pose now in your mind's eye, as it should be when performed in perfection. You can then perfect your own practise. This is a great showcase of what we are all always striving to reach. Use your eyes for this one. watch, mimick, visualize, remember, copy, strive to model after…Competition? Look at it as a Demonstration. Keep your mouths still. Save your energy by not expressing angered opinions. Use this situation to learn. It is already done.

  14. Anna Weltman says:

    Everyone is seeing the bad in this. It is done. Has already happened. You might as well see something positive in this. As you all try daily to strive toward perfect execution of your poses and postures in yoga practise, you now have the chance to see how the pose is supposed to be – exactly as executed perfectly – the way you are striving for. You can watch, notice the details, observe for as long as you like, and make mental notes. These are shown to you slowly, repetitively, and with perfection. Why not use this as a chance to put images in your mind to take with you to practise. Watch, model after, mimic, copy, and learn from. Save your energy by not expressing angry criticism. (and do not express angry energy around you with those expressions of criticism). Competition? Look at this as a Demonstration. Here you are presented with an opportunity and you've not seen a single good thing – yet there are many good things here to see. Open your eyes and close your mouths (and stop your angry typing fingers). It is done. Accept it.

  15. Bikram Choudry, the Rush Limbaugh of yoga!

  16. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
    Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
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  17. Pankaj Seth says:

    The Onion saw this coming some time ago… 'Monk gloats over Yoga championship — "I am the Serenest~!"

  18. juniferyogini says:

    One doesn't have to cancel out the other. Surely there is room for competitive yoga, as there is with gymnastics or dance, and the 'pure' form of yoga understood commonly as the union of mind, body and spirit. Who are we to say that the competitors aren't harnessing the goal of yoga (mind, body and spirit) while they compete. To each their own. I'm confident that 'traditional' yoga, for want of a better term, is perfectly capable of standing alone and remaining 'pure' despite the existence of competitive yoga.

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