HK's first yoga competition bends the rules just a bit

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 December, 2011, 12:00am


Competing to attain enlightenment? It could be a stretch. Yet some of the region's best yoga practitioners brought their poses to Hong Kong this weekend for the first major competition of its kind to be held here.

The inaugural Dayal International Yoga Championship began on Friday and will end today at the Sheung Wan Municipal Services Building in Central.

Organised by the Hong Kong Yoga Federation and Dayal Leisure and Cultural Association, the total prize money is HK$60,000 - the most offered for such an event in Asia.

The tournament drew some 170 participants - and organisers expect that figure to rise next year based on the success of this year's event. Competitors from overseas are given subsidised accommodation and free board.

Seven places are supporting the competition, with representatives from yoga associations and federadtions from India, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, mainland China, Macau and Vietnam.

'Our ultimate goal is to foster a healthier and buoyant Hong Kong via the peace and happiness that yoga can bring,' said one of the tournament organisers, Yuva Dayalan.

'We want to build a platform for yoga practitioners to share their knowledge and experience via international teacher workshops, training programmes and championships which meet international standards.'

But does the idea of competing for money fit with the principles of yoga?

Dayalan thinks so, arguing that from 'time immemorial in India', yoga competitions like the one in Hong Kong have been staged, mainly so that participants could learn various techniques from each other. 'These competitions teach individuals different styles and positions to fine-tune their final posture,' he said.

Dayalan, a practitioner who created a form of yoga that improves badminton players' form, claimed such events generated interest and encouraged more people to take up the ancient discipline.

'The response we have had from local competitors has been very encouraging and they all obviously enjoyed taking part,' he said.

In the maiden championship, there are three main categories: individual competitions, artistic yoga and rhythmic yoga. In the individual category, the contestant is given a set of asanas, or yoga postures, to perform.

Those in the artistic yoga category must perform eight to 10 asanas choreographed to music within three minutes. In rhythmic yoga, two female or two male competitors give a synchronised performance to music, and they also have three minutes to perform at least eight to 10 asanas.

An overall Champion of Champions will be selected and there will also be categories for those competing at the under-18 level.