Odd Ball: Weird NYC Sports
by Jonathan Zeller, 01/02/2013
Jared McCann. Photo: Mike McInnis and Jerry Herman Photography
USA Yoga National Yoga Asana Championship at the Hudson Theatre
What is it? In the first weekend of March, the National Yoga Asana Championship is set to come to New York City for the second year in a row, immediately following the New York regionals. During the competition, which looks a bit like a super-contortive gymnastics event in slow motion, judges assign scores based on participants' form, execution and "grace." Some critics say that the very idea of a yoga championship is antithetical to the ancient wisdom at the heart of the discipline. On the other hand, much has also been written about the folly of trying to determine what yoga is really about, and these athletes can do undeniably incredible things with their bodies. And for the amateur yogis among us, the competitors' achievements can serve as an inspiring reminder of what is possible with hard work, persistence and patience.
Why should you go? Eoin Thomas Sharkey, a yoga instructor who competed at the New York regionals in 2012, describes the drama inherent in completing a sequence of yoga postures alone onstage, in front of the judges and an audience, all of whom sit in total silence: "Last year I demonstrated a handstand pose, [and] there was a moment where I came out of my concentration. Realizing that I was going to have to struggle in order to get my legs fully up in the air, that was scary…. They're either going to fall, or I'm just going to find the strength to do it."