By Claire Osborn
Friday, December 02, 2005
|Rodolfo Gonzalez AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Chen of Austin on Thursday practiced the standing bow pulling pose, one
of 14 postures she will have to complete within three minutes in the
Texas Yoga Asana Championship.
of people will balance on one leg and contort their bodies Saturday to
raise money for Hurricane Katrina victims. It's all part of the Texas
Yoga Asana Championship, a concept that seems a bit counterintuitive to
"The first thing I thought is, 'No, no, no. You're not
supposed to do that,' " said Melanie Barnes Turner, who like other yoga
instructors tells students not to compete with one another in class.
when Barnes Turner thought more about it, she said, she reached a sort
of peace with the idea: "As a former competitive diver...the motivation
comes from deep within."
The director of the
competition, Nora Jeanne Welsh, said there has been a tremendous amount
of resistance in the yoga community to the idea of a competition, even
though there have been yoga competitions for hundreds of years in
"Competition is simply a fact of life, and on a
positive level, it's what drives us to be the best we can be," she
said. The championship starts at 2 p.m. at the Helm Fine Arts Center at
St. Stephen's Episcopal School, 2900 Bunny Run in far West Austin. Male
and female winners, as well as two runners-up, will advance to the
national championships in Los Angeles in February.
All proceeds from the $25 tickets will benefit the American Red Cross.
One of the contestants will be Mardy Chen, owner of Bikram Yoga
Davenport at 3600 Capital of Texas Highway North. Chen, 30, is a former
marathon runner who on Thursday practiced one of the seven poses she
will do in three minutes at the competition: wrapping her legs around
her arms, straightening all her limbs and balancing her weight on her
Chen said her only competition Saturday will be herself.
"It's a positive celebration of the human form," she said.
Each competitor can score up to 100 points: 70 points for the poses
and the rest for a combination of muscle definition and skin tone,
poise, grace and charisma, Welsh said.
Sponsors of the competition, who spent about $15,000 to advertise
the event, not only want to raise money for hurricane victims but also
think practicing yoga can change the world, Welsh said.
"We would love to make it so that everyone in the world was doing yoga and finding their own inner peace," she said.