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The 2009 National Yoga Asana Championship - Livin' the Good Life

Feb. 9th, 2009

07:08 am - The 2009 National Yoga Asana Championship

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I just returned from a big adventure in LA! Maya and I (and Ely) went to watch Gabe compete in a national yoga competition on Saturday. The purpose of this competition is to gain recognition for yoga as a sport and as a worthy "Olympic Event". It also was created to encourage young people to do yoga. If you go to http://www.yogacup.com/ you can see what all the hubbub is about! If you click on "Video" you can see last year's winners of the International Yoga Competition. (The video starts out all shakey, but bear with it.)
Gabe did very well. As you can imagine, the pressure was enormous! The competition was stiff, stiff, STIFF! (But, of course, the competitors were most certainly not!!) Many of the competitors were competing for the 5th or 6th year, and this was Gabe's first attempt. I was impressed with his composure and form, and of course, I thought he was the best. But, didn't every mother there think her son or daughter was the best? You bet they did!
The Silver Medalist for the men's division this year was a young man from the USA who had an amazing story. Four years ago he had been 50 pounds overweight, had diabetes, and had had a heart attack! He started doing Bikram Yoga, and today he is, obviously, in fantastic shape and gave a spectacular performance. Gabe says that is what this brand of yoga claims to offer: a complete transformation of the body. At the same time, yoga trains the mind to be calm and focused. Observing people compete is a study in what "calm and focused" looks like! Wow! We watched about 85 people do their routine, and during each performance you could hear a pin drop in the room. We were all working on being calm and focused along with the contestants. (I wasn't very calm when Gabe was up there, though! My heart was pounding!) The people who competed were mostly Bikram Yoga teachers who had all won first, second, or third in their home state. So, it was a huge honor to be competing with "the best of the best", and Gabe had a great attitude. He said that his fellow competitors were genuinely nice and friendly and supportive of one another and that that atmosphere helped put him at ease. He really enjoys this yoga community. This event reminded me of the 20 years of swim meets I attended with our boys. The dress code was exactly the same: competition swim suits. This necessarily gave a detailed view of each person's body. Interestingly, I noticed that not only were the yoga contestants in top form, but so, apparently, was the audience. I imagine that most of the people who were in the audience were serious yoga students, or at least enthusiasts. I don't think I saw an overweight person in the whole auditorium! (Amazing for this day and age, where sadly, "overweight" seems to be becoming the norm.) The whole group was a pleasure to look at, demonstrating excellent posture, composure, and an upbeat attitude.
I think Gabe has learned a tremendous amount through this experience and my guess is that he will do it again next year. Like training for any Olympic event, it involved a large amount of time, energy, money, and dedication to get to the point of being "competition ready". Basically, he needs to decide if he wants to devote the entire coming year to preparing himself for next year's competition. A big decision.