Postcards From The Heat

Bikram Competition: Who is a Champion?

2 Comments 26 October 2009

A yoga competition? Isn’t that an oxymoron? Isn’t yoga about the union of body and spirit, heart and mind? Yes.

But Bikram Yoga is also about striving for mastery–of the beautiful postures, of the body, of the self. The audience at a competition is treated to poetry in motion. The competitors–their skills, focus, and love of the yoga are utterly inspiring.

The competition’s grand goal is to inspire. Rajashree Choudhury–an Indian yoga champion who served as a judge at the October 25 event in New York City’s Merkin Concert Hall–noted that seeing someone “better gives willpower.” And even envy, she said–which she experienced as a child–can inspire dedication, health, a better world. To that end, she and her husband, the founder of the discipline, Bikram Choudhury, are working toward yoga as an Olympic sport at the 2016 games.

It was indeed inspiring there at the regional tournament. Competitors performed five postures from the Bikram series and two of their own choosing. As some three dozen men and women flexed and balanced with shaking muscles and determination, ears were tucked past heels, heads arced backward until toes covered eyes, and entire bodies perched on elbows and fingertips.

The event was a study in the biomechanics of grace. Far from the tumult of winning and losing and egotism, the atmosphere was serene. The silence was such that the click of a pen closing, the snap of a camera, a competitor forcing the air from her lungs, were loud.

The men’s winner, Jared McCann, was clearly the most accomplished of his sex, but a tiebreaker ensued among four women. An improvised final round resulted in a win for Kyoko Katsura, a Bikram Yoga NYC teacher whose popularity was made clear by high-decibel applause. The two will travel to Los Angeles in February to compete in an international tournament.

Please note, however: the happiest competitor was the least skilled. Her optional poses were nothing fancy, her flexibility humdrum. But she was the only one to prance in delight off the stage.

Doesn’t fun enrich the spirit? Isn’t accomplishment inspiring? isn’t there something noble in a disciplined striving for a personal best?

Namaste,
Yoga Lily

BIkram Yoga NYC - who has written 198 posts on Postcards From The Heat.

Yoga Lily has been practicing intensively in our studios for more than three years. She was inspired to begin this blog by the myriad benefits the yoga brings her. Yoga Lily lives in Manhattan with her two daughters, an oversized German Shepherd, and a Russian Blue cat.

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2 Comments so far

  1. Mike says:

    Hi

    I am in a catch 22 situation with Bikram Yoga. I am an Alpha 1 Anti-Trypstin sufferer where my lungs are getting worse and I now have COPD. I have read that Bikram Yoga is good for improving breathing which i really do need help with. Now the problem is i have read you do it in a 40 degree C room. That is something i worry about giving me trouble because when i have gone in the sauna after gym i struggle with my breathing. Would Bikram have the sam affect on me.
    regards Mike


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Bikram Yoga NYC opened its doors in August 1999 and became Manhattan's first Bikram Yoga Studio! Owners Donna Rubin and Jennifer Lobo had both been avid practitioners of Bikram Yoga in other cities and knew that no city needed Bikram Yoga more than New York!

Our blogger, Yoga Lily has been practicing intensively in our studios for more than two years. She was inspired to begin this blog by the myriad benefits the yoga brings her. Yoga Lily lives in Manhattan with her two daughters, an oversized German Shepherd, and a Russian Blue cat.

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