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Finding Balance - Yoga Contest Judges Posture, Poise, Grace
Chicago Sun, December 9, 2004

Suburban Chicago's Information Source

Contestants stretch limits, sweat in yoga competition

By Sara Hooker Daily Herald Staff Writer
Posted 12/6/2004

Carol Stream resident Kurt Larson used to perform in triathlons, but it never compared to the workout he got stretching, breathing and sweating in Bikram Yoga.

"The workout itself when I first started doing it was like a triathlon," said Larson, 44. "Even though it seems like just silly little poses. It's pretty cool."

Larson participated with nine others in Sunday's Illinois Regional Yoga Championship in Naperville - a competition based on body proportion, gracefulness and skill in seven yoga postures.

The event at Bikram Yoga, 400 S. Main St., commemorated Bikram's creators, Bishnu Ghosh and Bikram Choudhury.

Instead of the traditional 105-degree conditions Bikram typically requires, organizers accommodated the competitors and the 20 or so shoeless spectators by lowering the heat to 85 degrees.

When it was over, the judges selected two men and two women to travel to California to compete in February with hundreds of others across the country and world.

First place winner Conrad Gacki, who co-owns the yoga studio and organized the local competition, said he's relieved the competition is over. As a performer, Gacki said it was a little less intense to perform in the cooler temperatures.

"It was kind of nice. When it's dry you can get the grip," said Gacki, who referred to the various positions in which you must hold your heel or feet to stretch to the fullest. "I liked it like that."

While Larson didn't win the competition, he said yoga has improved his life. Before Larson began this type of yoga, back pain had sidelined him from running.

"Two weeks of this, I could run again," said Larson, who attributed his now pain-free back and extra energy to the yoga. One of his favorite things about Bikram yoga is that it's objective to each person's skills.

"When you do it, you don't have to do it perfect. The cool thing is doing it to the best of your ability," Larson said.

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