Yoga And The Zen Of Winning

By Jessica Belasco
San Antonio Express-News.


Most people think of yoga as a path to inner peace, relaxation, spiritual growth and meditation.

But for a small number, it’s less about the Om and more about beating out all the other yogis to win a gold medal.

Competitive yoga may sound like a contradiction in terms, but the participants are judged on their execution of asanas (poses), not how close they’ve come to achieving a state of Zen.

“Honestly, you’re not really competing against other people. You’re really competing against yourself,” said Shane Thornton, 38, who teaches Bikram yoga at the Union in San Antonio.

Thornton and more than 150 others from 36 states are competing in the 2014 National USA Yoga Asana Championship which began Friday and continues through Sunday at the Aztec Theatre.

This is the first year the national championship is being held in San Antonio.

The event is “a celebration of the beauty in the human form,” host Craig Villani said.

In other words, the audience gets to watch gorgeous men and women in tiny, skin-tight bathing suits put their legs behind their heads.

Fans of gymnastics and figure-skating will see a familiar structure at this event.

Participants execute five compulsory poses and two poses of their choosing.

Judges score each pose, looking for correct form, fluidity of movement, grace, control and stillness.

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