People take up the sport for a variety of reasons. Kinter first used it as stress relief while working at a mental health clinic in Pennsylvania. Weckesser, a professional dancer, started practicing 10 years ago to complement her dance classes. Hall used yoga as a cardio interval in his workouts. Kaye said it helped her lose 100 pounds.
“I think it's changed my control a lot more, like not getting aggravated and angry about every little thing,” he said. “Not letting other people steal my peace, that's the way Bikram says it. If someone steals your peace, then you're the loser.”
Next weekend will mark the 10th anniversary of the USA Yoga Asana National Championship. What started as a small get-together at a studio in downtown Los Angeles is now a nationwide event featuring yogis from 31 states and Washington, D.C.
USA Yoga hopes yoga asana will one day become an Olympic sport. Gans pointed to gymnastics and diving as examples of what the sport could eventually become.
“Our objective is to put these incredibly talented yogis in front of audiences so that these audiences can be inspired by their performances and go out and take up the practice of yoga themselves,” Gans said. “We need to have it in a format that large audiences will find interesting.”
Hall will compete in his third national championship on Saturday, and his first as regional champion. He said yoga asana has made him a better fitness instructor and helped him find his fiancee, Weckesser — the two met on a yoga date.
Plus, it's also a pretty cool trick to show friends at a party.
“Yeah,” Hall said with a laugh, “I'm not above that.”
Yoga competitions are only a small piece of the broader yoga lifestyle. Yogis spend time with yogis, and everyone is working toward another goal.
Kinter is confident that she can do yoga for the rest of her life. Hall wants to learn new postures like the handstand scorpion, which involves bending your feet backward and touching them to the top of your head.
“It's very humbling,” Hall said.
“And we're still learning,” Kaye added. “We'll always be learning.”