What could be a more exciting time of year for a yoga sports athlete than the upcoming National Championships? Developed by USA Yoga with a distinct vision in mind; to promote yoga asana as a sport and to be an advocate for the practice of yoga for better mental and physical health, and to includeall age groups.
Through months of preparation and practice, participants from around the United States will come together to test their skills, unite with other athletes alike, to support fellow participants, both friends and family, and leave feeling more connected with their passion.
What are the National Championships?
USA Yoga, also known as the United States Yoga Federation, a non-profit organization, includes members who are athletes, coaches, and judges from all walks of life. This organization is thrilled to offer a variety of skills competitions that allow the yoga sports athlete to demonstrate his or her skills at a competitive level.
The National USA Yoga Asana Championship, in particular, will be celebrating its 15th anniversary this upcoming summer, 2018 where many participants will compete for the title of champion in their particular group.
The rules of the sport dictate that each individual must perform six postures within three minutes. Four of these postures fall within four compulsory categories in order to help to demonstrate the range and motion of the spine.
The other two postures reflect a combination of skills, that of balance, flexibility, and strength. There are three levels of difficulty; the first, which are all floor postures, demonstrate flexibility. The second will display the individual’s ability to balance, and the third establishes a combination of the three above-mentioned skills.
To be sure that the competition is fair, USA Yoga oversees the regulation of the sport, the education of the coaches and judges, that the rules are strictly uniform, and they help to promote and coordinate all of the events.
The competition takes place over the stretch of a weekend and participants and viewers can expect a lot of waiting time. The finalists are judged at the end of the weekend, so if you are looking to see the more elaborate asanas, this is the time when the athlete will perform his or her most challenging, and often impressive, poses.
Why Is the Championship Important?
For the yoga sports athlete, the National Championship is so much more than just performing a group of poses in front of an audience. It allows for the participants to perform a series of yoga asanas and receive scores based on standardized judging criteria to ultimately determine a champion within a group of competitors.
Competitors of all ages must progress from a regional competition, which is also sponsored by USA Yoga, in order to compete in the National Championship. The Yoga Alliance has recorded that 15% of US adults practice yoga; with such a high number of participants (and interested viewers), it is no wonder that these competitions were created.
But iftruth be told, Yoga Asana competitions actually originated in India hundreds of years ago. In fact, if you were to visit India now, you would find that these competitions are still thriving. Friendly competition contributes to our humanity and is perfectly natural. It helps us to explore ourselves deeper and to push ourselves further in our practice.
The competition is welcome to all yoga practitioners from any yoga school and any form of yoga practice. These competitions allow for yoga sports athletes to come together, to learn from one another, to develop a community, and to promote and develop a higher appreciation for the sport.
The USA Yoga Federation firmly believes that all ages can benefit from the sport. With the increased participation and awareness of the National Championships, existing practitioners will continue to develop their skills while others not entirely aware of the sport may become inspired to step out on the mat and begin their yoga journey.
This year, Urban Fit Yoga, in particular, has some of their own yoga sports athletes who will be participating in the 2018 USA National Yoga Asana Championship. These athletes have worked extremely hard to progress from the regional competition to be able to compete in the National Championships; it is our pleasure to honor each one.
She placed first in the Women’s 50+ age group for the Southern States Regional Championship.
She placed third in the Women’s 50+ age group for the Southern States Regional Championship.
She placed fifth in the Women’s 50+ age group for the Southern States Regional Championship.
She placed sixth in the Women’s 18-49 age group for the Southern States Regional Championship.
He placed second in the Men’s 50+ age group for the Southern States Regional Championship.
Hard Work and Dedication
For each of the women who participated in the Regional Competition, this was their first experience in a Yoga Competition. In order to prepare themselves for such a venture, they practiced their yoga routine vigorously two months prior to the competition and followed multiple classes throughout the week to keep their bodies properly conditioned.
This practice includes ensuring that the body is able to move in a way to demonstrate the four compulsory categories that were mentioned above. Specifically, the spine must be able to demonstrate forward compression, backward bend, stretching, and spine twist.
Each yoga sports athlete selects a compulsory pose that will demonstrate his or her ability and dedicates a considerable amount of time in perfecting this pose. He or she can then add an additional pose that will complement the compulsory pose.
With each pose, there is a varying degree of difficulty, and depending on how the yoga sports athlete feels, he or she can mix up the poses based on his or her level of training and ability. Often, the athlete will practice his or her routine over and over, refining it, tweaking it, and strengthening it.
For those who are familiar with Urban Fit Yoga and its owner and founder Wayne Campbell, you may also be familiar with his participation in the National Yoga Championships of previous years. Not only is he the 2017 USA National Yoga Champion in the Men’s 50+ Division, but he will be representing the USA again in the upcoming Championships this summer.
Just as the other Urban Fit yoga athletes put in a lot of training, so too does Wayne. In fact, he has previously trained with former World and National Yoga Champions and with Senior Yoga Teachers. Wayne has dedicated over 20 years of his life to the sport and has healed greatly from consistent effort and practice.
Past Experience and Future Goals
USA Yoga was founded by Indian yoga master Bikram Choudhury, who is also the founder of Bikram Yoga. His wife, Rajashree, is quite familiar with her own yoga competitions that she participated in back in India as a young child.
A champion herself, she reflects on her own experience and how it wasn’t enough to be able to simply complete the asanas, but you must also have composure. Loud noises were commonplace to test the will and composure of the competitor, something much different than one would witness in today’s National Competition.
Despite the differences in testing a competitor’s composure during the routine, the ultimate goal is always the same, to allow for yoga asana to be considered as a sport in the Olympics.
While the reality of the dream is still years away, the expectations aren’t unrealistic to say in the least, the physical requirements, as well as mental preparation and strength, are much the same for any of today’s Olympic sport.
It is through these competitions and championships that the view on yoga as simply being an individual experience, one that is not meant to be used to compete against other practitioners, is being challenged and altered; and there are many who couldn’t be more thrilled about that.
If you have been practicing yoga for years, or recently come into the sport, then you might be curious if this is something for you. Recall the amount of dedication and practice that comes from these yoga sports athletes and you can expect toput in the same amount of work.
If for no other reasons than to be a part of the community and feel the connection that develops from working towards a goal, the Championship is something to experience in person. The inspiration that one feels from seeing the hard work and dedication of the competitors is one of a kind and will continue to influence other yoga sports athletes for years to come.
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