To most yoga enthusiasts, the discipline is an individual exercise that helps people get in touch with their bodies.
But the city will get a taste of the competitive side of the practice on Saturday, as Edmonton hosts the Canadian Yoga Championships for the first time.
“It’s just a way to promote and demonstrate awareness of what the body is capable of doing, so obviously, some postures are more difficult than others,” Adam Chipiuk, a competitor and organizer of the event said in an interview on CBC Edmonton’s Radio Active.
“Ten years ago, I couldn’t even touch my toes,” Chipiuk said. “I had a lot of sports injuries, and now what I’m able to do with my body and my mind, it’s shocking. I didn’t even think this was possible but the only reason I was able to do this is I saw someone else do that, move their bodies, and I’m like, ‘Why not me? Let me try.'”
The championship event is taking place from 11 a.m to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Pearl Showroom in Pure Casino Yellowhead. As of Wednesday, 15 competitors had signed up in the women’s, men’s, and senior women’s categories.
The Olympics-style competition will see judges scoring the competitors from one to 10, looking at criteria such as stillness in posture and technical ability. They’ll award points according to rules set out by the International Yoga Sports Federation, said Eva Chipiuk, who is organizing the event with her brother.
“It’s also about highlighting how athletic yoga can be,” Eva Chipiuk said. “And every body is different proportion-wise, ability-wise, in strength versus flexibility, so this is why this event is so amazing.”
Started in Vancouver in 2003, the Canadian championships follow in the footsteps of yoga competitions that have been held in India, the birthplace of the physical, mental and spiritual practice, for hundreds of years, Eva Chipiuk said.
Siblings survived cancer
The brother and sister quit their careers in medicine and law, respectively, to open a yoga studio in Edmonton after each survived cancer in their 30s. Practising yoga played a part in their healing, the siblings said.
“I think it really helped heal me,” said Eva Chipiuk, who survived a pancreatic cancer diagnosis 10 years ago.
“We’re now in our 40s, and we’re in the best shape of our lives, but not just physically,” she said. “Mentally, it gives us clarity, focus, a lot of good things we didn’t have in our 30s or our 20s.”
Both Eva and Adam, whose Hodgkin’s lymphoma went into remission after chemotherapy and radiation, said yoga is for everybody.
“There’s no body, no physical ability, that can’t do it,” Eva Chipiuk said. “All you have to do is just breath. And the rest is optional.”