Photo credit: Bikram Yoga Saanich

Not one but TWO Canadians (both from B.C., at that!) made it to the podium this weekend at the 9th Annual International Yoga Asana Championship, presented by the International Yoga Sports Federation. Jordan Palmer from Bikram Yoga Saanich earned second among the men while our very own Mari Dickey placed third in the women’s division!

Mari executed the five compulsory asanas (Standing Head to Knee, Standing Bow Pulling, Bow, Rabbit and Stretching) plus two additional postures (her choices: Tiger-Scorpion and Full Standing Bow). The judges were looking for balance, strength, flexibility, timing (five seconds of stillness in the maximum expression) and appropriate breathing in each posture.

Here’s what Mari had to say this morning from L.A.: “What an amazing weekend! So many beautiful, inspiring yogis. Thank you everyone for all of the love and support. I am so grateful!”

In case you were wondering what Mari had to do to get bronze, here are notes from the championship’s official rulebook, plus photos of Mari executing each posture (all images from here courtesy of the International Yoga Sports Federation):


How to perform the posture:
  • Stand with feet together, shift body weight to standing leg (leg closest to the judges) and lock the knee (leg straight and thigh muscle contracted). Pick up the other foot, interlocked fingers, thumbs with the index finger, holding underneath the ball of the foot. Look forward.
  • Kick the heel of the raised foot forward until leg is straight and parallel to floor. Arms straight, eyes focused forward, body weight distributed evenly throughout standing foot. Lock both knees.
  • Wrists straight, bend the elbows down toward the floor. Keep the elbows touching against the calf muscle, and extend the elbows below the calf muscle. Both legs straight, both knees locked. Eyes still focused forward.
  • Tuck the chin to the chest and bring the head down, rounding spine, touch the forehead to the knee, both knees locked. Maintain balance for at least five counts.
  • To reverse: bring head up, look forward. Re-straighten arms, both legs locked, focus forward. Bend kicking leg and release foot to floor. Pause long enough to demonstrate control in each step as you exit the posture.
NOTE: While the competitor chooses which leg to stand on, standing leg must be closest to the judges.
What the judges look for:
  1. Connection between mind and body: ability to keep mind under control as well as body.
  2. Forehead touching the knee as high up the leg as possible.
  3. Roundness of spine. The higher the arch of the spine the better.
  4. Relationship of elbows and calf muscle. For full points elbows must drop below the calf muscle.
  5. Wobbling, shaking, standing foot moving, readjusting, moving in the posture.
  6. Standing on the proper leg, so the judges can see the inside of the body.
  7. Knees locked, thigh muscles contracted.
  8. Wrists straight, not bending, when elbows are below the calf muscle.
  9. If the forehead doesn’t touch the knee, the posture is incomplete and receives a zero.
  10. Final position should be held for five counts and the competitor should demonstrate control in each position entering and exiting the posture.


How to perform the posture:
  • Distribute body weight evenly on the standing foot, farthest from the judges. Straighten and lock the standing leg knee. Grab the inside of the other foot at the ankle with all five fingers together and inside of elbow facing out. Simultaneously, bring the other arm straight up by the side of the head.
  • Kick the foot back and up with toes pointed and extend the leg as high as possible.
  • Stretch the free arm forward as far as possible so that the chin is touching with the shoulder, extend the other arm back so that the two shoulders are in one line from the side. Bring the abdomen and chest parallel to floor so that the two feet are in a straight line from the side.
  • Focus out over fingertips.
  • The posture is complete when the top foot is over the bottom foot, two feet in one line, and the chin touches the shoulder.
  • For full points both legs straighten and both legs lock to achieve a standing split. Maintain this position for at least five counts.
What the judges look for:
  1. Chin touching the shoulder. Two feet in one line from the side.
  2. Grip at the ankle without letting the hand slide.
  3. Two shoulders in one line from the judges’ view.
  4. Chest and abdomen parallel to the floor.
  5. Fumbling with picking up foot or picking up wrong foot and correcting. Leg closest to the judges is the kicking/top leg.
  6. Kicking/top foot lines up in the centre of the head from the front view.
  7. Stillness in the final posture for at least five counts, rather then continuously deepening the posture until finished.


How to perform the posture:
  • Lie on abdomen, chin forward, side of the body facing the judges.
  • Reach back and grab the outside of both feet two inches below the top of the toes. Five fingers together, wrists straight, toes pointed. Six inches between the knees and the toes.
  • Kick both legs up and back.
  • Balance body weight between pelvic bones and lowest rib so that the toes are in the centre from the side.
What the judges look for:
  1. Grip: two inches below the toes not gripping above the toes.
  2. Straight wrist.
  3. Toes in the centre of the body from the side – like a teardrop.
  4. Knees and feet even from the side and the front.
  5. Balance on the centre of abdomen.
  6. Wrists and knees six inches apart; knees/feet should not open wider then shoulders as they get higher.
  7. Stillness in the final posture for five counts, no rocking back and forth.


How to perform the posture:
  • Sit on heels with knees and feet together. Tops of feet on the floor. Side of the body toward the judges.
  • Grab the heels with the thumbs on the outside, fingers on the inside.
  • Tuck chin to chest, round forward and touch the forehead on the knees, the top of the head touches floor.
  • Pull on the heels, lift hips up, and roll forward. Arms straight, elbows locked. Entire spine stretching from the coccyx to the neck. Lift the shoulders to the ceiling. Thighs perpendicular to floor.
What the judges look for:
  1. Spine completely and symmetrically rounded.
  2. 90-degree angle at knees – thighs perpendicular to the floor.
  3. Maintain contact between the top of the head and the floor. Stay on the top of head not rolling on the back of head.
  4. Forehead touching the knees.
  5. Wrists straight; OK to have thumbs touching with index fingers.
  6. Shoulders lifted away from ears.


How to perform the posture:
  • Sit with spine upright and both legs fully extended forward, feet together.
  • Grab the big toes from the top, with the middle and index fingers, palms facing each other.
  • Pull on the toes. Feet together and flexed. Legs straight, knees locked and heels in the air.
  • With a flat back, stretch upper body forward from the lower spine. Touch the elbows on the floor along side the calf muscles. Bring the body down, stomach on the thighs, chest on the knees, forehead reaching toward the toes.
What the judges look for:
  1. Continuous stretching from the coccyx to the forehead. For full points, the forehead touches the big toe (not the thumb or hand/wrist).
  2. Legs straight and thigh muscles contracted – minimum gap between back of the knees and the floor.
  3. Feet together.
  4. Feet flexed.
  5. Spine straight.
  6. Stomach on the thighs, chest down.
  7. Elbows on the floor.
  8. Forehead in line with the toes, face down, eyes looking forward.




Once again, a HUGE congrats to Mari; we’re all bursting with pride here in Vancouver!

Leave a Reply