Last month was the USA Yoga finales, lasting from Friday to Sunday evening, a full three days where hundreds of competitors from around the nation came up to compete, show off their Yoga stances, and try to win the big finale. Every style was represented, and everyone competed to their best abilities in front of the 700 theater seats at the Hudson Theatre in Manhattan. Everyone remained quiet and supported mentally the competitors, while they watched an endless number of poses and stances, people stretching their legs, arms, and standing in positions most people would think impossible. But this event was the culmination of a lot of preparations, including some unusual ones.
Michael Colwill is a 46 years old kindergarten teacher, and he decided to compete with just three years of Yoga experience, because there’s no entry requirement in the regional entries. Instead of spending his preparation time going over his routine again, he stood in front of the empty theatre bowing down, and smiling, convinced that presentation was as important as skill and performance. Indeed, he was one of those who went up to the National Yoga Asana Championship.
The event was hosted by the United States Yoga Federation, also called USA Yoga, and took place over three days. On Friday, everyone could compete, and people showed up a wide array of techniques and performances. By Saturday however, things had gotten serious, with competitors doing everything they could to win. The audience was silent, and a pin could be heard dropping. Many Yoga athletes find this type of competition hard to go through, since they can go from their calm, well illuminated studio, practicing in front of a mirror, to a scene where spotlights blinded their faces, and hundreds of people stare at them intently.
Even watching this competition was not an easy task, having to sit quietly through a long series of routines. In traditional Yoga, watching this type of event is said to prepare the mind and body for the act of meditation, and reducing external sensations to a maximum. Both adults and children competed, and were divided into special categories. By Sunday, the finals featured 10 men and 10 women, showing their own versions of Asana, along with two additional poses that were chosen by the athletes. The children section was dominated by girls, with only one boy competing at the end.
Backstage, the coaches would throw towels around the athlete’s necks in typical sports fashion, and it’s the hope of USA Yoga that this type of competition would one day be found in the Olympics. For now, even this national event can be exhausting for the professionals competing for the final prize. The woman’s first place went to Afton Carraway, a dancer from Orlando, and the man champion was Jared McCann, a teacher from New York.