International Yoga Federation - http.//www.internationalyogafederation.net
- Olympic Yoga
Is it too big a stretch?
A few weeks before the opening ceremony of the Beijing Summer Olympics, I started to notice a buzz on several blogs about yoga as an Olympic sport. The familiar topic of yoga sports competitions was also revived recently on the Rishiculture Yahoo Group that I belong to. From the discussions, it's clear to me that emotions and opinions are strong on both sides, for and against.
Competition itself is not a foreign concept in yoga. In fact, intellectual debates between masters of various spiritual traditions were a vibrant part of ancient Indian culture. Can we, however, compare ancient competitions with the modern phenomena of competitive sports? Are the two similar or worlds apart?
For instance, today's athlete often possesses an unwavering determination to win at all costs. This is quite apparent in the extremely high levels of training, along with the use and abuse of performance enhancing supplements and drugs in sports today. Modern sports stars also often seem willing to forego their academic education, and even neglect to engage in many other aspects of an evolving, well-balanced life; all in the name of winning.
As a result of this obsessive drive, even the most basic of human dignities, a humble respect and appreciation for one's opponent, is often lost. The focus has become solely about the individual or the team, their achievements, and a very public recognition of their success.
As such, much of the modern sports culture does seem in conflict with the very core ideals of yoga: those of selflessness, compassion, dignity, balance, humility and respect.
Modern Yoga Sport
In India today, nearly every state holds some form of yoga sporting competition; events that have gained much interest since Swami Gitananda established the Pondicherry Yoga Association (PYA) and held its first state yoga championships in 1975.
Dr. Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani, the current General Secretary of the PYA, says, however, that "many things have changed over the years, and though I support yoga sport for the children and youth, I may not say the same for the adult competitions� unless the theoretical aspect is taken into consideration, it will be only another gymnastic competition."
Demonstrating this ideal, the PYA now uses yoga competitions to help create a broader interest in the art and science of yoga in today's youth. Since 2000, it has organized the annual Swami Gitananda Best Yoga Youth Award competitions, which tests the young competitors not only in the physical asanas, or postures, but also in the theoretical and other elements of yoga too.
The PYA has also introduced yoga theory aspects into all its yogasana competitions, with the aim of exposing competitors to spiritual aspects of the great science of yoga in addition to developing their skills in asana.
Yoga Sport Today
Yoga Sport competitions are now seen across the globe. Though some event founders and even some competitors speak publicly about the spiritual and lifestyle aspects of yoga, it is not so apparent these elements and the comprehensive attitude of the PYA is being embraced by the majority who run or participate in these events.
The now famous Bikram Choudury began organizing his International Yoga Asana Championship in 2003, a spectacle that was highlighted in the controversial 2006 documentary Yoga Inc. Ashley Hooper, a former medal winner, says, "We don't feel we are competing with each other. We are competing with ourselves."
Yet the focus of these competitions remains physical. Competitors are only judged on the 'perfection' of the pose, its difficulty, their poise and composure, and the grace of movement both into and out of the position.
Other well-known yoga competitions include the annual World Yoga Championships, sponsored by the International Yoga Sports Federation http://www.yogasports.org (Yogachairni Durga Viviana Sapia, which was first held back in 1989. The European Yoga Alliance organizes the annual European Yoga Championships, while regional competitions happen throughout the Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Mexico, United States and Canada, Europe and India as well. All of these focus primarily on SPIRITUALITY anot in the performance of asanas.
Is Yoga Headed for Gold?
Yogasiromani Gopalji, executive director of The World Yoga Council and formr president of International Yoga Sports Federation, is at the forefront of the push to get yoga into the Olympics, a movement that has much support as well as much resistance. In a recent BBC interview, he rationalizes that "yoga sport or Nahaa Hatha Yoga competitions] has been a traditional sport in India since more than 1,200 years."
Esak Garcia, winner of the 2005 Bikram's International Yoga Asana Championship (only focus in asanas) , also supports the elevation of yoga to the world sporting stage, saying that "once yoga is in the Olympics, it will legitimize yoga for many people all over the planet."
Yoga Sports is not Yoga. Is Yoga Sports: Hatha Yoga
Many people, however, don't feel that yoga needs legitimizing, and that yogas sports in the Olympics is counter to the very meaning and purpose of yoga. This was all too evident in the flurry of responses to a June posting about the subject on YogaJournal.com's blog. "Making yoga an Olympic sport would only increase the already existing over-competiveness", wrote one blogger. Another echoes the prevailing attitude that "making yoga competitive takes the essence right out of it."
Dr. Ananda Balayogi Bhavanai, in his abstract entitled "A Brief History and Introduction to Yoga Sport" says, "To prevent yogasana competitions from falling into the trap of other sports, it is important that those in charge of these competitions stand firm on moral and ethical issues. Competitors should sign a statement that they are vegetarian, non-smoking, non-drinking and non-drug users. They must have a basic knowledge of yoga theory and marks should be allocated for yoga deportment and character... yogasana competitions, when put in this framework, can restore the competitions to their original purpose, which was to produce a healthy mind in a healthy body."
The International Yoga Federation (IYF) has echoed much of this sentiment in their Yoga Sports Rules and Regulations, outlining a system whereby competitors are judged on spiritual and mental performance, as well as given phiysical, social, ecological, cultural and philosophical evaluations. However, the question remains: how can one evaluate another on such a subjective level?
With the wide range of feelings about yoga as a competitive sport, is yoga right for the Olympics? David Wallechinsky, an author and Olympic expert doesn't think so. In a recent BBC interview, he said, "at this point, the Olympics is looking more for the sort of sport where the first to cross the line wins. They are also going more and more for events that play well on television; [events] that are more action oriented. If you had combat yoga� maybe that would have a better chance of making it into the Olympics."
That hasn't deterred the IYF, which has already contacted the Olympic committee and plans to petition to have yoga included as an Olympic sport. The earliest that could happen is 2020. Coincidently, the Indian Olympic Association has also said that it plans a pitch for New Delhi to host the 2020 Olympics. If yoga does somehow find its way into this illustrious event, what the competition will include will most certainly continue to be a topic of much emotional debate.
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- International Rules of Yoga Sport
POINTS IN THE COMPETITION fo Yoga Sports
POINTS IN YOGA SPORT
Final Evaluation ten (10) points:
- Spiritual Evaluation: (4 points)
- Physical Evaluation: (1 point)
- Mental Evaluation: (1 point)
- Social Evaluation: (1 point)
- Ecological Evaluation: (1 point)
- Cultural Evaluation: (1 point)
- Philosophical Evaluation: (1 point)
Physical Posture are only one point and Spiritual feelings are 4 point, mental
philosophical are two
Yoga is chitta vritti norodha and who do is the winner !!!!
Evaluation of Yoga Sport:
The judges are gurus not yoga teachers. The judges evaluate a competitor based
on a ten-
point system. The referee is always a yoga master with lineage and dominion
spiritual education of a human being.
The competitor is evaluated physically, mentally, socially, ecologically,
philosophically. In all aspects of yoga as a discipline, the primary concern is
This is precisely why the control over the spirit demonstrated by each
a total of four points out of ten possible points in athletic yoga, artistic
Once the physical, mental, and spiritual aptitude of the individual has been
judges evaluate the cultural and philosophical aptitude of the competitor by way
It is important to remember that a flexible competitor with incredible physical
only wins one point.!!!! Because Yoga is not Contortion !!!!!
In order to win, one needs to understand and practice the philosophical and
of yoga. The competitor's concentration level wins one point, and his
spirituality wins four
The most friendly and pleasant competitor could easily beat a flexible person.
are informed about which competitors study yoga and meditate with their masters.
The social points are awarded when a competitor and his trainer are integrated
Yoga Community in their respective country, and cultural points are awarded
their competitor's ability to adapt to the home culture of the competition
for his own culture. Ecological points are awarded to those who do not litter or
ecology. Those competitors who smoke in their private lives, or use drugs,
pharmaceuticals, are eliminated.
6.4.1. Points for Spirituality (4 points):
During and after the competition the judge, and most of all, the referee,
following four points in evaluating the competitors´ spirituality:
188.8.131.52. AHIMSA: The competitor may not manifest before, during, nor after, any
violence aggression, criticism, anger, or disapproval toward fellow competitors,
audience members, judges, animals, or plants--neither physically, mentally,
spiritually. They also may not destroy objects.
184.108.40.206. MAITRI: The second feeling which the judges award points for is Maitri,
towards all beings present at the competition. The competitor should not
mean feelings, nor lack of sympathy, towards rivals or judges. The competitor
exhibit a state of friendship, cooperation, and solidity toward rivals and
competitor must understand that the competition is a game and should not respond
aggressively or maliciously to any living being present. Neither should his
members, and sympathizers present at the competition. The competitor's face
exhibit expressions of animosity, discontentment, nor of discooperation. Each
obtains points for Maitri, feelings of friendship, cooperation, and solidity
companions, rivals, and judges.
220.127.116.11. MUDITA: The judges award points for happiness. It is important to be
enjoy the game as a celebration. Neither the competitor nor the trainer should
expressions of sadness, indifference, depression, anxiety, stress, anguish--or
18.104.22.168. EMOTIONAL AND AFFECTIVE INTELLIGENCE: the capacity to avoid feeling
emotions in oneself and the capacity to understand what affects the feelings of
Affective intelligence deals with capacity to generate feelings, fundamentally
karuna, or compassion for others. Emotional intelligence deals with the capacity
fun in the game and with Yoga.
YAMAS AND NIYAMAS: The competitors must observe the Yamas and Niyamas before,
during, and after the competition. (One hour before and one hour after).
6.4.3. Points for Mental State (1 point)
The judges award points for the competitor's ability to introspect, concentrate,
contemplate, and mediate within the competition environment.
6.4.4. Points for Sociability (1 point)
The judges award points for toleration for and integration with others,
belonging to the group, belonging to the institution, accepting the rules, and
understanding them. The competitor should not criticize, protest, or interfere
judge make a mistake.
6.4.5. Ecological Points (1 point)
The judges award points for respecting the environment. The competitor is
from smoking, drinking alcohol, using drugs or pharmaceuticals, or littering the
competition area or surrounding area. The competitor must leave the environment
it is without modifying absolutely anything. The competitor must respect the
kingdom and may not kill or harm insects or plants during the competition. The
award points to those who help in maintaining everything clean, in order, neat,
do not destroy living beings or objects.
6.4.6. Cultural Points (1 point)
The judges award points to those who understand and accept, without criticizing,
cultures, religions, philosophies, races, and customs of the country or city
competition takes place. The competitor ought to be respectful of the customs of
place and every country.
6.4.7. Philosophical Points (1 point)
Jnana Yoga Competition
The competitors will have to execute the asanas after they have been called out
Sanskrit. In doing so, the competitors demonstrate a certain understanding of
philosophy and study. In addition, the competitors may be asked to fill out a
to demonstrate their understanding of yoga philosophy.
See International Yoga Sports Federation