Tag Archives: competition

Why All Olympians Are Yogis

2 Aug

Credit: Career Upshift

Like many Americans – I get excited to watch the Olympics. I laugh, I cry, my heart pounds! I find myself looking at these athletes and being inspired by their ‘yogic qualities.’

Their hearts are wide open. No matter how many times they lose (and they must lose a lot) – they lead life with their heart. They don’t close off when they are down. They go out time and time again and open to grace. Their stories are epic; how they got to the Olympics, their life path. Each one has a unique journey.

Each one has to believe in themselves. Sure we all experience negative self-talk, but Olympians have to create a space in the mind to believe in themselves. They have to be their own biggest fans.From that place of strength they rise to greatness.We already know: Yoga is a practice of the mind. We use the physical to access the mind. The Olympics appear to also be a physical practice. But above all, being an athlete in the Olympics means having a strong mind-body connection and a strong mind.

When looking at the 8-limbed path of yoga – four (half) of the limbs are directed at the practice of the mind. Two limbs are physical (pranayama and asana) and two are ethical practices (yamas and niyamas). As an Olympic athlete we could create a similar ‘8-limbed path’; 1) Strength 2) Grace 3) Speed 4) Breath Control 5) Perseverance 6) Focus 7) Drive 8) Surrender, Contentment and Bliss.

As a life-long student and teacher of yoga, I see the practice everywhere.  It’s pure beauty to witness.  Above all, whether you are a world class athlete or on your mat, the practice can guide you to your best self, one step at a time.

viaWhy All Olympians Are Yogis.

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World Competitors Stretch to Prove Yoga Is a Sport

8 Jul
Juan Manuel Martin-Busitil

Juan Manuel Martin-Busitil of Spain won the men’s championship. There were 75 competitors from 24 countries at this year’s tournament. By SARA BECK

LOS ANGELES — Silence prevailed during the yoga asana routines of the ninth annual Bishnu Charan Ghosh Cup — except for one distinct sound: the low engine rumble of airplanes lifting off and landing at the Los Angeles airport.

This international competition has made the noise of momentum, too, but just where it is heading is hard to predict. Will it become a sport recognized on the Olympic stage as Rajashree Choudhury, the founder of USA Yoga and the International Yoga Sports Federation, hopes? Or is it destined to remain a quirky transplant from India practiced by an exclusive set of Bikram yogis?

“All are welcome here,” said Choudhury, the wife of Bikram and a five-time national champion in India. “We need as many yogis and styles as possible to make this dream a reality.”

The event was held at the LAX Radisson, where the mirrored ballroom became a competitive yoga stadium and runway-like hallways morphed into warm-up rooms for yogis. Onstage, a garland-draped image of Bishnu Ghosh, Bikram’s guru, looked on while seven judges sat with pencils raised, critiquing the routines.

“The quality of the athletes has evolved tremendously,” said Jon Gans, an organizer and former judge of the event. “Postures, like peacock, that seemed to be a pinnacle pose the first year would now seem normal.”

The Bishnu Charan Ghosh Cup in 2003, before the federation took the reins, was a Bikram affair. The sprawling Staples Center featured hundreds of yoga vendors, and the competition got lost in the merchandise. Fewer than 10 countries were represented, and it is said that Bikram lost a quarter-million dollars.

Though the event is more focused now — and often serves as a platform for yogis to tell their stories — the number of competitors has grown. At a Friday night dinner, Choudhury welcomed the 75 competitors from 24 countries.

Throughout the weekend, Bikram’s monogrammed Rolls-Royce sat at the hotel’s entrance, and he remained front and center, changing his outfit six times over the weekend. One silver sequined jacket, said to have inspired Michael Jackson, sparkled so much that one female competitor confessed that it distracted her onstage.

At first, Choudhury avoided the word “competition,” urging the participants to accept whatever happened with humility and a smile.

“Shine on that stage,” she said. “That should be your mantra. …There are no rivals, only fellow coaches.”

But later she compared the Ghosh Cup to other sporting events, and the ethereal gave way to the mundane.

Mary Jarvis, a coach of seven world champions, reported last-minute changes in the grace score methodology. When coaches politely grumbled about the late notice and lack of organization, Jarvis said, “This is a work in progress.”

Competitors had three minutes to complete five compulsory poses from the Bikram beginner series and two optional poses, which typically came from the advanced series. Judges considered the posture’s degree of difficulty and “how well the body reveals the therapeutic benefits of the practice.”

The national anthem kicked off Saturday’s qualifying round, but little else resembled an Olympic event except for the impressive athletic ability. Judges were paraded on stage in cocktail dresses, events ran up to two hours behind, and the 800-person ballroom was sometimes half empty. The online viewership throughout the weekend exceeded 10,000 hits.

Ten men and 10 women moved from Saturday’s qualifying round to Sunday’s finals, including seven Americans. The United States, with a developed network of studios, presented four representatives from the highly attended national competition, while others, like China, sent only one, and she lives in Boulder, Colo.

Bishnu Ghosh’s granddaughter, Muktamala Mitra, said Americans seemed more ambitious in their practice. “They struggle more and are harder working,” she said.

Rumors that someone might attempt a one-handed, bowlegged peacock, a pose that judges say would have been unimaginable nine years ago, spread throughout the hotel. It was performed by Dipannita Mondal, 17 the girls youth division winner from India.

The Ghosh Cup’s role is to build momentum for yoga asana, providing an “I can do that, too” energy among observers, particularly young ones. Of the 13 competitors in the youth division (11- to 17-year-olds), five were from India, and three were siblings from Canada.

“When I first started two years ago, I couldn’t straighten my knees in a forward bend,” said Toby Killick, 13, who placed fourth. “Everything was pretty sad, you could say.”

A few of his friends find it cool that he can do backbends, and another joined him for class once, but threw up in the hot studio after guzzling too much water.

“I warned him, but it takes some getting used to,” Killick said.

Participants from India, where yoga competitions have been around for a century, swept the youth competition, drawing gasps from the crowd as they bent like rubber into their postures. They hustled on and off the stage, sometimes with more than 30 seconds to spare.

“They are very shy,” Choudhury said, noting that some are from rural villages and most do not speak English. “I bring them to the West to teach them about performance.”

When she competed in India, she said, the audience would bang pots and pans to cause distraction, not unlike what an opposing team does during the pressure-filled moment of a free-throw shot. In the ballroom, the M.C. encouraged silence before promising the audience a lifetime of psychological torment if their cellphones went off.

The men’s finals featured a surprising number of falls, something Choudhury chalked up to mental stress. The American champion, Jared McCann, placed third after slipping from his handstand scorpion into a full wheel.

Gloria Suen, 35, from Singapore, took the women’s gold medal with a full standing bow, her arms spread wide like airplane wings. Juan Manuel Martin-Busutil, 33, from Spain, won the men’s title after pressing into an inverted palm tree that mirrored the landscape outside.

“Being upside down is a way to suspend my mind and let go,” he said. “But yoga is also my tangible grasp on reality.”

Will competitive yoga asana lift off as a sport as gracefully as the champions’ bodies did on stage? Time will tell. Among the duties of the champions is to travel the world promoting and demonstrating yoga asana.

“Every one of you is making history, and evolving this sport,” said Joseph Encinia, of the United States, the men’s world champion last year. “We’re doing well, but we’re not at an Olympic level yet.”

viaWorld Competitors Stretch to Prove Yoga Is a Sport – NYTimes.com.

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Des compétiteurs mondiaux s’étirent pour prouver que le yoga est un sport

8 Jul
Juan Manuel Martin-Busitil

Juan Manuel Martin-Busitil de l’Espagne a remporté le championnat des hommes. Il y avait 75 concurrents venus de 24 pays au tournoi de cette année. By SARA BECK

LOS ANGELES – Le silence a prévalu durant les routines d’asana à la neuvième édition de la Coupe Bishnu Charan Ghosh – à l’exception un son distinct: le grondement des moteurs des avions de l’aéroport de Los Angeles.

Cette compétition internationale a créé le buzz du moment, mais son avenir semble difficile à prédire. Le yoga va-t-il devenir un sport reconnu sur la scène olympique comme l’espère Rajashree Choudhury, le fondateur du USA Yoga and de la International Yoga Sports Federation? Cette discipline est-elle destinée à rester une greffe excentrique de l’Inde pratiquée par un ensemble exclusif de yogis Bikram?

«Tous sont les bienvenus ici”, a déclaré M. Choudhury, l’épouse de Bikram et cinq fois championne nationale en Inde. “Nous avons besoin de nombreux yogis et de tous les styles possibles pour faire de ce rêve une réalité.”

L’événement a eu lieu à l’hôtel Radisson LAX, où la salle de bal est devenue un stade concurrentiel et les couloirs des chambres d’échauffement pour les yogis. Sur scène, une banderole de Bishnu Ghosh, le gourou Bikram, regardait, tandis que sept juges assis avec des crayons soulevés en critiquaient les routines.

“La qualité des athlètes a évolué considérablement», a déclaré Jon Gans, un organisateur et ancien juge de l’événement. «Des postures comme celle du paon qui semblaient être un obstacle dès la première année semblent désormais normales.”

Le Bishnu Ghosh Charan Coupe en 2003, avant que la fédération prennent les rênes, était une affaire de Bikram. Le tentaculaire Staples Center avait mis en vedette des centaines de fournisseurs d’articles de yoga, et la compétition s’est perdue dans la marchandise. Moins de 10 pays étaient représentés, et il est dit que Bikram a perdu un quart de million de dollars.

Bien que l’événement est plus concentré aujourd’hui – et sert souvent de plate-forme pour les yogis pour raconter leurs histoires – le nombre de concurrents a augmenté. Lors d’un dîner vendredi soir, Choudhury a accueilli les 75 concurrents de 24 pays.

Choudhury évite le mot «concurrence», exhortant les participants à accepter ce qui arrive avec humilité et un sourire.

“Il n’y a pas rivaux, seuls les entraîneurs collègues. ”

Plus tard, elle a comparé tout de même la Coupe Ghosh à d’autres événements sportifs.

Mary Jarvis, un entraîneur de sept champions du monde, a rapporté des changements de dernière minute dans la méthodologie du score final. Lorsque les entraîneurs ont poliment grommeler au sujet de la notification tardive et du manque d’organisation, Jarvis a déclaré: «C’est un travail en cours.”

Les concurrents disposaient de trois minutes pour terminer cinq poses obligatoires de la série débutant Bikram et deux poses en option en général de la série avancée. Les juges ont estimé le degré de difficulté de la posture et “la façon dont le corps révèle les bienfaits thérapeutiques de la pratique.”

L’hymne national a débuté le tour de qualification du samedi, mais à peu près tout ressemblait à une épreuve olympique à l’exception de la capacité athlétique impressionnante. Les juges ont défilé sur scène dans des robes de cocktail, l’évènement a débuté avec deux heures de retard et la salle de bal de 800 personnes était parfois à moitié vide. Cependant, l’écoute en ligne tout au long du week-end dépassé 10.000 hits.

Dix hommes et 10 femmes ont été qualifié pour la finale de dimanche, dont sept Américains. Les Etats-Unis, avec un réseau développé de studios, a présenté quatre représentants tandis que d’autres, comme la Chine, en a envoyé un seul.

La petite-fille de Bishnu Ghosh, Muktamala Mitra, dit que les Américains semblaient plus ambitieux dans leur pratique.

Le rôle de la Coupe du Ghosh est de créer une dynamique, fournissant un “je peux trop le faire” parmi les observateurs, en particulier les jeunes. Sur les 13 concurrents de la division de la jeunesse (11 – à 17 ans), cinq venaient de l’Inde, et trois étaient frères et sœurs du Canada.

Les participants en provenance d’Inde, où les compétitions de yoga ont débuté depuis au moins un siècle, ont balayé la compétition des jeunes. Ils pliaient comme le caoutchouc dans leurs postures avec plus de 30 secondes d’avances sur les autres.

“Ils sont très timides», a déclaré M. Choudhury, notant que certains sont originaires de villages ruraux et la plupart ne parlent pas l’anglais. «Je les amene à l’Ouest pour leur enseigner la performance.”

La finale des hommes a compris un nombre surprenant de chutes, un fait que Choudhury attribut au stress mental. Le champion américain, Jared McCann, a eu la troisième place après avoir perdu son équilibre en pose scorpion.

Gloria Suen, 35 ans, de Singapour, a pris la médaille d’or chez les femmes avec un salut plein, debout, ses bras écartés comme des ailes d’avion. Juan Manuel Martin-Busutil, 33 ans, de l’Espagne, a remporté le titre chez les hommes après avoir fait un palmier en inversé qui reflètait le paysage extérieur.

«Être à l’envers est une façon de suspendre mon esprit et de laisser aller», a-t-il dit. “Mais le yoga est aussi ma portée tangible sur la réalité.”

Est-ce que le yoga asana concurrentiel va décoller comme un sport aussi gracieusement que les organismes des champions l’ont fait sur scène? Le temps nous le dira. Parmi les devoirs des champions, un est de parcourir le monde afin de promouvoir et de démontrer le yoga asana.

“Il tient à chacun de vous de faire l’histoire et l’évolution de ce sport,” a déclaré Joseph Encinia des États-Unis, champion du monde des hommes l’an dernier. «Nous faisons bien, mais nous ne sommes pas au niveau olympique pour le moment.”

viaWorld Competitors Stretch to Prove Yoga Is a Sport – NYTimes.com.

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