Jones: Competitive Yoga--Too Much, Too Far, Too Fast


Seboreah Jones is a poet and investigative sports journalist.


After only five years of certified worldwide competition, the question must be asked – how twisted can people get?  When it comes to competitive yoga, the answer is very!  Read on!

Competitive Yoga under the banner of the YCI, the “Yoga Challenge International” sprang to life in 2012 from of a yoga studio in Brooklyn.  The organization was founded by Sree Chim Chimcheree (Sree Chim to his followers) – a teacher who ran the hottest hot-yoga studio in hipster Brooklyn, sometimes doing yoga in temperatures up to 200 degrees!  Sree Chim wanted to pit his twistiness against that of other yoga teachers and devotees.  The first competition took place in a high school gym in Williamsburg and a panel of three judges scored eighty-nine competitors on points for grace, strength, and twistiness.  In this first year of competition, form was prized over strength, and the winner (Geego Timmins) was showered with rose petals and given a gorgeous bala necklace made of hardened yak urine.  Almost immediately, controversy arose.  Some said Geego had not pointed his right toe towards the heavens while doing the stance known as “fighting worm.” League rules have since changed to avoid these situations. Competition are now videotaped and a second set of judges (who wear yellow hats to distinguish them from normal judges) would decide discrepancies.  A few weeks after that first competition, Sree Chim was accused of coercing sex out of some of his students by telling them it was a “new position” he’d discovered, and he was replaced as commissioner with Swami Bopha Bodingus (Swami Bo to his acolytes) who immediately turned up the heat! 

In year two, the prize rose in value – instead of a bala necklace made from yak urine, the winner this year would win a bala necklace made from GOLD. Anyway, it made the yogic twisters want to win like nobody’s business and suddenly “accidents” started to happen.  The event had to be moved to the Barclays Center as 15,000 yogamen and women competed in the round robin battle.  Interesting side-note, “Round Robin” was the pose that eliminated the majority of yog’ers.  With only twenty five pliable people left, there was blood in the air, and in the final hours of the event seventeen competitors were attacked with hammers to the knees – one DURING the competition! 

The prized necklace. Hopefully, someone named Sofie wins this year.

In its third year, hammers left at the door, under tight security – you had to put your hammer in one of those lock-bags and they’d give it back to you when you left (800 hammers were collected).  The YCI had yet another new commissioner as Swami Bo had been caught having multiple affairs with his female students and picking pockets during his popular “street clothes” yoga sessions.  The competition got leaner – which was great, but it also got meaner, which is not so great.  One of the sponsors of that third competition “Handel’s Hatchets” insisted that hatchets be incorporated into the various yoga events.  Since the company was underwriting the yoga mats, no one could argue.  Thirteen yoga people lost limbs.  The limbs were never found.  Still, yogis soldiered on, until, the night before the finals – when murder came calling. 
The coveted invitation for last year's yoga competition. Posted on yoga message boards and yoga studios nationwide.

The two leaders (it’s a round robin, like I told you) were unable to continue turning their arms and legs this way and that as they’d both been poisoned with…Tofu!  In fact, lab tests proved it was poisoned tofu and not, as originally thought; regular tofu that had been poisoned.  There is only one place to buy poisoned tofu, and they don’t sell much of it, so a simple look at a few receipts from “Wang's House of Poisoned Tofu” told the tale. Kale Gibbly, one of the yoga finalist’s coaches, was found guilty of Attempted Murder! When one of the finalists died from the tofu he was found guilty again - this time of Successful Murder!  The competition that year ended in a hung jury.  No one would go home with the stupid gold necklace.

And this year the tragedy has begun early.  The new YCI commissioner, Ron Rinpoche, has, within days of being seated as commish, been accused of forcing sex upon his yoga students, all disgruntled housewives.  Before he could get “lawyered-up” Ron was injured, and some suspect foul play.  While doing the “Pointy-toed Fighting Owl” stance, Ron fell off a ladder that fell off a building and fell on him after he fell off of it.  The paramedics who arrived on the scene said they’d never seen so many things fall at once.  With this latest in a series of twists and turns, perhaps competitive yoga has done enough damage, don’t you agree?

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Seboreah Jones enjoys writing about yoga in her free time. --Bob Odenkirk

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