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Ready, Set, Pose! U.S. Yoga Championship Hits Manhattan

By Sonja Sharp | February 28, 2012 2:23pm
The United States Yoga Federation's 2012 Yoga Asana Championship will take place March 2-4 in Times Square.
The United States Yoga Federation's 2012 Yoga Asana Championship will take place March 2-4 in Times Square.
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United States Yoga Federation

MANHATTAN — Strike a pose.

America's most flexible yoga buffs will converge on Times Square this weekend for the United States Yoga Federation's 2012 Yoga Asana Championship, featuring 124 of the country's top yoga practitioners competing for the coveted national title. 

But the hordes of yogis descending on Times Square's Hudson Theatre will know better than to breathe too loud, as huffing and puffing is penalized in the nation's premiere yoga contest.

While competitive posing may sound strange to the casual yoga participant, competitions have existed in India for hundreds of years. Furthemore, USA Yoga founder Rajashree Choudhury, who competed in them as a child, recently told New York magazine she hopes to see her sport into the Olympics

The New York regional competition will be held on Friday, followed by the national semifinals on Saturday and finals on Sunday.

Competitors at this year's event will have three minutes to complete seven poses — five mandated by the competition and two the contestants choose themselves. Each pose earns a possible high score of 10, with judges adding or subtracting points in categories as specific as locked knees and tremors, to confidence and glamour.

But unlike in other Olympic sports, qualities such as grace also earn points.

According to judging guidelines posted on the organization's website, "grace possesses an element of ego-free glamour that includes a confident and graceful internal state that is projected outward by the competitor." 

Contestants from sunny states like California, Texas and Florida have dominated the championships in recent years. A New Yorker has never taken the title. 

The 2012 USA Yoga Asana Championship, March 2-4, Hudson Theatre, 145 W. 44th St.