Yoga in the Olympics? Missing the point.

Via Todd Mayville
on Jun 30, 2008
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Okay, now I know that I’m probably going to be called a purist or elitist of some sort, but the idea of turning yoga into a competitive Olympic sport seems to be taking things a little too far. So far the discussion seems to be focused around Bikram yoga, which makes it seem as more of a marketing ploy, but the idea of any style of competitive yoga seems anathema to me. Can’t we humans just do something just for its own sake, without making a competition out of it?


About Todd Mayville

Todd is a single dad of four diverse and lively kids, and is an English teacher and climbing team coach at a local public high school. A rock climber, cyclist and avid reader, Todd also practices yoga and meditation as often as he possibly can, which helps him stay at least a little centered and sane.


7 Responses to “Yoga in the Olympics? Missing the point.”

  1. One of the most important points of yoga is to never force. To practice ahimsa, non-violence on the body is a main theme of yoga. Bikram already is forcing when it comes to yoga and it doesn’t surprise me that the path that Bikram took is showing up as an idea for the Olympics. The great thing about yoga is that we all get to choose our own path.

  2. Joseph says:

    Respected Westerns Minds,

    Here in India we have yoga competition for 2000 years in many Kumba Melas, where all the yoga masters, yogacharyas, sadhus, yogis come together each year. We have pranayama competition and philosophical competitions because yoga competition is our tradition.

    The Yoga Competition was born in India. The Yoga Federation of India, Indian Yoga Federation, Yoga Confederation of India, North India Yoga Federation, South North Yoga Federation, World Yoga Congress of Pondicherry, World Yoga Society of Calcatta, Vivekanda Kendra Yoga Foundation, play yoga competition, Indian Yoga Championship, Indian Yoga Cup, States Yoga Championship and World Cup, because for many years is OUR TRADITION, because we are Indians and most of us are hindu.

    And Yoga Sport is Holy Sport in our Holy land with our Holy Yoga. All the
    Yoga Ashrams have Yoga Competition.

    Yoga Sport and the Yoga Art come from Lord Nataraj and Babaji. Swami
    Yogananda from Giri tradition taught Kriya Yoga and Yoga Sport to his young brother Yogacharya Gosh. Yogananda in America and here in India was a great yogi. Lord Shiva is God, and our god Shiva under the form of Lord Nataraj and Babaji teach yoga sport, yoga competition and yogi dance to the nathas in each akada and to Giri tradition of Yogananda and Sri Gosh. Yoga Sport comes from God. It is the true teaching of Shiva and Babajiguru. Om Namah Sivaya.

    In our land Mother India, our goverment supports the promotion of yoga sport in each University and High School by supporting Yoga Competition, because it is our TRADITION.

    We have in India a very nice book we call Mahabarata. Part of this book is another text, the Yoga Sastra, that most people call Baghavad Gita. In
    Yoga Sastra, Lord Krishna teaches Arjuna about Life and Yoga. Because
    Life is Competition. How to fight in the war. Because the war is the big
    Competition, like Mahabarata. Kirshna teaches about attitude in action.
    Krishna teaches this in the war to be a yogi, and this attitude we teach in the game of yoga sport.

    Life is competition and Sri Aurobindo teaches: all of Life is Yoga and Yoga is Competition. Sports is any game where you have competitons and we can teach about emotions because this is yoga. Sports is Health and health is Yoga.

    But to understand these teachings you must be an Acharya–that means
    Yogacharya; Yoga Master with linage and guru. Because to give teacher
    training course you need to be Yogacharya. Patanjali teaches us if you want to be yogi or yoga teacher you need to have Guru or Yogacharya. Yogacharyas have Samadhi and Lineage and they can teach. Yoga teachers only can give yoga class to help others but they don’t know you. That’s why they ask: “How can you speak of championship of yoga?”

    In India we started the International and World Yoga Cup in Pondichery with Sri Swami Gitananda Maharaj, he was mahat of Giri in south and president of World Yoga Congress, and all the swamis and acharyas help this great Master of Masters of Yoga. Swamiji was Patron of Yoga Federation of India with all states yoga associations and more than 2000 ashramas, centers, and schools. He called Olympic Yoga to the Indian way of Athletic Yoga or Yoga Sport. In Kolkata Dr Dibyasundar Das, president of Word Yoga Society, worked hard for international yoga championship in Kolkata, West Bengal in India, and he sent a gift of Yoga Art (he helps Yoga Raj Bikram). Dr Das has nice yoga competitons. In Delhi, Bagavan Krishna Kisore Das formed and was president of the World Council of Yoga, president of World Spiritual Congress and president of Great White Brothehood, and is an avatar of Krishna work in Yoga Competition.
    Our goverment worked on Yoga Competition, Vivekanda Kendra in Bangalore worked on Yoga Olympiad. Krihsna Sharma president of Yoga Federation of India worked on National Yoga Championship, Dharam Vir president of Indian Yoga Federation worked on National Yoga Championship, Yogasiromani Gopalji president of Yoga Confederation of India worked on National Yoga Championship, Yogacharya Viswanath from Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga with the help of his uncle Yogacharya Jois worked on National Yoga Championship and he was the former president of International Yoga Sport Federation from 1989 to 1994 and Swamiji Gitananda de Patron. Swami Chidanandaji Maharaji from Saraswati linage, in the Holy Rishikesh helped in his Ashram to have in 2000 the Holy International Yoga Sport Championship in front of Ganga in Honor of Shiva with a big image of Shiva. Many countries sent representatives to Rishikesh. Swami Chidananda is a great yogi, a great swami and Holy Man like Gitananda, Yogananda, and all the yoga masters.

    Why is Bikram creating the First American and International Yoga Championship in the United States? He does it because he is the director of Yoga College of India in America, and because he is Indian and Hindu. And he knows our Traditions.

    Mallakhamb is also a very nice Yoga Sport. You can see it at Mallakhamb Yoga is Korunta Yoga, Yogacharya Iyengar works in Korunta. And Korunta Yoga and Mallakabhm came from Pune and Mombai. If you practice Korunta Yoga you work in Yoga Sport. Yogacharya Jois has worked in Athletic Yoga for many years. Yogacharya Krishnamacharya worked in Athletic Yoga for years.

    Yoga Alliance of Europe, Yoga Alliance of South America, Yoga Alliance of
    Africa, Asian Union of Yoga, Latin American Union of Yoga play yoga sport
    and help our traditions. The International Yoga Federation must help all the yoga traditions.

    I ask the world-wide yoga president Yogacharya Dr Fernandoji
    Estevez-Griego to help India and all our yoga organizations in this cause.
    He has helped all the traditons of Yoga as president of the International Yoga Sport Federaton from 1994 to 2000 and International Yogatherapy Association from 1997 to 2000. And now as world-wide yoga president, Fernandji must help both Mr Lima and Sri Bikram. Please support and help Mr Lima and World Yoga Championship in July 2003 in Europe and Sri Bikram in U.S.A. for Yoga Competitions. (I meet you Sri Fernandoji in Delhi 2000)

    It is rightly asked to you. How you give teachers training course in Europe
    or America without Yogacharyas? Only Yogacharyas can give teachers training course. A yoga course needs yogacharyas, not yoga teachers. We must ask you how you teach without tradition and without Ashrams?

    Please contact our yoga federations, India is the land of Yoga.

    Swami Shankarananda

  3. Jack Ramsey says:

    Olympics and Bikram – It would be an amazing event if it ever happens. I have been practicing all types, styles and brands of yoga since 1971 but when it comes to Bikram hot yoga there’s no match. I know there are a lotta people who displike Bikram for all sorts of reasons but when it comes to real honest yoga then Bikram yoga definitely fits the bill suitable and rightfully qualified to be part of Olympics. Other yogas that are now popular in the USA don’t come close to Bikram’s yoga. Although I don’t practic Bikram Yoga exclusively but I can fully understand and endorse Bikram yoga for the Olympics. No other yoga can touch when it comes to the competitiveness of Bikram Yoga.

  4. ryan says:

    They’ve been holding yoga competitions in INDIA forever, people.

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