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Yoga Asana Championships treat yoga as sport

Jun 14th, 2012
Zoë Sophos
Woman stretches in yoga pose

The International Yoga Sports Federation hosted the ninth annual Yoga Asana Championships earlier this week in Los Angeles, CA. Also known as the Bishnu Charan Ghosh Cup, the event included dozens of male and female athletes of all ages from around the world, and was aimed at developing Yoga Asana into an official Olympic sport (

The Bishnu Charan Ghosh Cup presents the athleticism of yoga through “the beauty of demanding yoga postures” as well as “the dedication, endurance and unyielding determination of the competitors,” according to the International Yoga Sports Foundation. It is based on some of the postures, or asanas, in Bikram Yoga, a specific style of yoga that incorporates a series of 26 poses in a heated, humid room (

Competitors were judged based on their performance in both pre-specified asanas and asanas of the participants’ choosing, seven total for adults and six total for youth. The judges looked for a visible connection between mind and body, for any shaking or wobbling and for locked knees and elbows, among other physiological and aesthetic characteristics. The International Sports Yoga Federation hopes that the competition “will encourage existing practitioners to sharpen their skills through training, dedication, and devotion to the sport, and will inspire new practitioners.”