The Mallakhamb World Championship (often called yoga on the pole) took place for the first time at Shivaji Park in Mumbai, capital of India’s Maharastra state with the participation of about 100 athletes from 15 countries.
Wearing tight shorts, Pavel Kalina twisted her body around the wooden pillar and slowly moved upwards and ended up standing on a hand on top of the pole. The 55-year-old athlete’s performance from the Czech Republic received acclaim at the first World Championship for an ancient sport, dating back to the 12th century from the West Indies.
The Japan Times quoted Kalina’s speech after 2 minutes of performing on a lubricated wooden pole to keep the athletes from being burnt by friction. He shared that he practiced this sport because he was a crazy guy. Honestly, doing yoga on the pillar was like being tortured, but he had to practice it because he needed to drain his energy. As a gymnast, Kalina has been practicing Mallakhamb for 10 years now.
Uday Deshpande who is the most famous Mallakhamb practitioner in India and the tournament organizer explained: Malla means martial artist, and khamb means pillar. The pillar is 2.6m high, smooth and has a polished top that is only a circle with a circumference of 35cm but flat. Practitioners Mallakhamb will perform acrobatic movements and yoga postures with this pillar.
Mr. Deshpande (65) said that Mallakhamb also helps to improve the morale of the practitioner. When you practice yoga on the carpet, you get a lot of benefits – meditation, breathing, concentration. When you practice yoga at a height of 2.6m, besides the same benefits, you also develop your confidence and courage. Mr. Deshpande hopes the tournament will help spread Mallakhamb globally and he dreams of one day the sport will appear at the Asian Games, and even put on the Olympic competition program.