The event was organised by Uday Deshpande to promote Mallakhamb, a gymnastics-like discipline that was originated in western India in the 12th century.

Mallakhamb World Championships.

Mallakhamb World Championships.  |  Photo Credit: AFP

Mumbai: The first ever ‘Yoga on a pole’ World Championship began in Mumbai’ on Saturday with over 100 competitors from 15 countries. The one of a kind tournament, which requires participants to perform asanasby climbing a pole, is titled the Mallakhamb World Championships.

Mallakhamb is a gymnastics-like discipline that was originated in India in the 12th century. It is often described as “yoga on a pole”, reported AFP.

“Malla means wrestler and khamb means pole. The pole is eight and a half feet (2.6 meters) in height. It is smooth, well polished and tapered at the top. Different acrobatic exercises and yogic postures are performed on it,” event organiser Uday Deshpande told the news agency.

Deshpande is also one of India’s most renowned Mallakhamb practitioners.

The participants wowed the crowd at Shivaji Park with their gravity-defying moves. One of the most impressive performers was Pavel Kalina, a 55-year-old gymnast who has been practicing Mallakhamb from a very early age.

“To be honest, it is like torture but I have to do it because I need to spend my energy,” said Kalina.

Another performer from Spain stretched out his front on top of a pole with a circumference of only 35 centimeters. Apart from the asanas on poles, a few participants performed stuns on a rope that hung 15 feet in the air.

“You feel a real achievement and you build strength and flexibility. It’s amazing what the human body can do,” Faezeh Jalali, a rope stunt performer, told AFP.

The event was organised by Deshpande to promote Mallakhamb globally. His biggest dream is to see the sport at the Asian Games and even the Olympics.