Picture this: a hundred people sitting around a boxing ring at a Brooklyn gym one snowy evening in late January. Instead of gathering to watch people fight, they are there to watch people bend, twist, and fold their bodies into contorted yoga poses.
The room is completely silent as all eyes focus on the center of the ring, where 22 yogis will each demonstrate six different postures before the night is through. A panel of judges is positioned at a table in front of the ring while they analyze the movements, stone-faced.
Slowly but surely, the room comes to life. When Craig Friedman, a competitor in the senior division, breathes heavily through Dandayamana Dhanurasana, standing bow pose, his knees quiver as he pulls one leg up in the air to make a straight line with the one planted on the ground, and the crowd claps encouragingly. Beads of sweat drip down Friedman’s forehead as he brings his leg into Janu Sirsasana, head-to-knee pose, and the judges take swift notes.
Then Victoria Gibbs, tall and taut in a black bodysuit, takes the ring. Bending backwards to grab her shins, she completes Chakra Bandhasana, full wheel pose, to the sounds of soft gasping from the impressed audience. Moments later, she’s morphing into Vrscikasana, scorpion pose, and veins pop out of her forehead as she tries not to wobble while balancing on her forearms. Continue reading >>