Yoga posing to be an Olympic sport – oh no!

There was a point in my life when I was an active gym member.  I loved the dance classes and supplemented them with strength training.  My yoga practice then took a back seat.

Then I had a slight injury on my left shoulder.  I moved away from strength training until I totally gave it up.  I focused more on dancing and revived my yoga practice.

Today, I can no longer stand the energy inside the gym (I only go to use the sauna).  It’s too competitive.  Sure, I appreciate that people are taking steps towards better health through exercise.  But my intention and philosophy for health and wellness just don’t resonate with what a gym offers and with those who frequent them.   There is no judgment here.  I’m just saying, it isn’t for me — not anymore.

Now that I have a more regular yoga/asana practice, it has become a form of therapy for me.  It is one of my spiritual practices.  The asanas (poses) and moving through them reflect back to me what I’m going through in my life, emotionally, mentally, spiritually.  Every practice is different.  Each pose teaches me a lesson.  There’s always a message for me.  A reminder.  An aha moment.

So my yoga practice isn’t just a form of physical exercise.  Sure, my physical body benefits from it but I have a holistic approach which works best for me.

When I came back to the Philippines in 2010 after my four-year sojourn in Northern California, I’ve had to make a lot of adjustments to living again in this country.  (I’m still adjusting and not even sure if I will ever be able to fully adjust.)  One thing I’m adjusting to is the kind of yoga practice that’s prevalent in Manila.

I’m happy to see the growing yoga community in Manila.  There are now a number of yoga studios to choose from.  There are numerous yoga classes to suit one’s schedule and lifestyle.  But people practice yoga primarily and merely as a form of physical exercise. 

I’ve had conversations with yoga studio owners and teachers and they share my observation.  They say that the yoga practitioners are not even beginning to scratch the surface of the true philosophy and meaning of yoga. 

But the teachers need to start somewhere in order to effectively introduce yoga, increase awareness and entice people to pick up the practice.  And they do this at the physical level. 

But their desire and intention is for the students to eventually embrace the philosophy of yoga and incorporate it into their lifestyle.  As they deepen their practice, yoga and the asanas will not just be a form of physical exercise but a way of life.  It may take awhile but it’s a start.  And we all need to start somewhere.

So when I came across this news article posted by savasana addict in Yoga as an Olympic sport – really?, my initial reaction was, you’ve got to be kidding me!

Some sources claim that even in India, where yoga originated, competitions are/were being held, as with some other parts of the world.  I still feel this to be counter-intuitive. 

As I’m writing this post, the National Yoga Asana Championship is being held in the United States.  This is hosted by USA Yoga, the same organization that is rallying for yoga posture or asana competition to become an Olympic sport.  Expect then to see more of this:

Indian students of a yoga college shows their skills. USA Yoga wants posing to be a competitive sport in the Olympics. AFP/ Getty Images

In the news article Yoga group wants posing to be an Olympic sport by The Associated Press from the National Post, Rajashree Choudhury, founder of USA Yoga reportedly says that “the competitions can be a way to interest people in yoga who might be put off by the spiritual aspect, by showing them the athletic aspect.”

Well then if some people are put off by yoga’s spiritual aspect, then yoga simply isn’t for them.  Yoga isn’t a sport and wasn’t intended to be so.  Or was there a memo and I didn’t receive it?

Yogis and yoginis, your thoughts?

# # #

Copyright © 2011-2012 Nadine Marie V. Niguidula, M.A. and Aligning With Truth

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About NadineMarie (Aligning With Truth)

I find much joy & fulfillment in sharing my experiences & insights through writing & blogging. I created the site, ALIGNING WITH TRUTH as a virtual center for healing where I share my thoughts & reflections, as well as the tools & resources that are helping me as I move along the path of awakening & coming home to the Self. As I live in joy & align with Truth, I AM shining my Light which is how I contribute to the planetary & humanity ascension. Blessed be. Namaste...💗💖💜Nadine Marie💜💖💗
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12 Responses to Yoga posing to be an Olympic sport – oh no!

  1. Moment Matters says:

    I know maintaining a Yoga pose is extremely difficult, but make that a sport? I don’t think so. Besides, those people in your photo is kinda creepy. I guess Yoga is for meditation not for competition.

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    • Yes, maintaining a pose and the technique of combining proper breathing, bandhas, muscles, focus and concentration, relaxation, visualization…it is quite challenging. But the goal isn’t “perfecting” a pose which is the message that a competitition will impart. Thanks for visiting and sharing your thoughts. Much appreciated…Blessings, love & light, namaste…..~N

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      • melissa gray says:

        I keep thinking about your post regarding yoga and making it an Olympic sport. You are so right about the fact that the ‘goal’ is not ‘perfection’! In fact, one of the fundamental principles of yoga that I’ve been taught is ‘non-judgement’, non-judgement of others or of ourselves and where we are on any given day in relationship to our practice. The whole idea of judging poses is so contrary to the core beliefs taught in yoga. It saddens me that our society has somehow managed to take a deeply spiritual practice and turn it into a competition. I’m competitive by nature and one of the aspects that drew me to yoga was the fact that it reminds me to ‘let go’ and ‘accept’ both myself and others – with all of our intrinsic flaws and ‘imperfections’! Namaste, Melissa

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        • I too have a competitive side and the practice of yoga is helping me tame that and balance my energies. It really is saddening. But perhaps this development is actually also giving us the opportunity to practice being non-judgmental, to “let go and accept” them, and honor where people are in their journey. Not easy… but we can continue to follow the true teachings of yoga and educate and illuminate others. And then we can trust in the Divine Intelligence and send light to the situation and to the people involved. Thank you so much Melissa for sharing your thoughts and reflections. Blessings, love & light, namaste…..~N

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      • Moment Matters says:

        I just opened my account and read your conversation with Melissa, which is by the way very informative for me. I have never tried Yoga classes solely because I don’t want to be judged. God it must be humiliating to try and struggle to certain pose with people around you, HAHA. Knowing myself, I’ll just groan, “how’s that possible?” and watch everybody maintain the pose with an awe. I have a Wii fit plus, so sometimes I attempt to do some pose but I just cheat the pose with a smile. Yoga being non-judgemental is pretty amazing =))

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        • melissa gray says:

          Hi “Moment Matters” … I really hope you’ll give yoga a try! It will literally change your life in so many ways! I took my first yoga classes in Manila many many years ago and have drifted back to it off and on over the years. Over the past several years I have been determined to get back to the mat and make it integral part of my life. When I practice on a regular basis, I am more balanced in every aspect of my life, my mind is clearer, my muscles stronger and believe it or not, time actually slows down so I seem to get more done! Look for a yoga studio that emphasizes the spiritual aspect, not just the physical and there you will be surrounded by like-minded individuals – without judgement. Most importantly, try not to judge yourself (that’s the hardest part!). If money allows, think about taking a few private lessons to help you learn the basics and feel more comfortable before taking a group class. I truly believe that yoga will help light your spiritual path – and in no time you’ll begin feeling stronger in body/mind/spirit 🙂
          Namaste, Melissa

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          • Moment Matters says:

            Hi Melissa! Slowing time is really a great promise. I wanted that to happen so bad because I don’t know where does all my time go. I do believe that balance is the key to happiness. I will consider Yoga soon, *when time permits! =)) Thank you for the recommendation.

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  2. melissa gray says:

    Approaching it from a purely physical aspect is completely missing the point of practicing yoga. Yoga is a blending of body/mind/spirit – you simply can’t take the spiritual aspect out of the equation and call it ‘yoga’. Like you, I’ve noticed many new so-called yoga studios in my area and so many of them are simply missing the entire concept. I have a yoga room in my art studio and prefer a solitary practice where I can ‘tune in’ with my own inner guidance and allow the energy to flow freely through me. During stressful times I find myself craving yoga even more – it allows me to connect with the Universal life force and align my body/mind/spirit in a way that no amount of purely physical exercise alone ever could. Those who look at yoga as a physical exercise or sport are truly missing out on the biggest benefit – the calming of one’s mind and the feeling of utter bliss that can only come from a spiritual place. Namaste, Melissa

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    • Yes Melissa, we are in the midst of this great shift as we move away from the world dominated by materialism. A lot of people are waking up, realizing and remembering that there’s more to reality than the material and physical aspects. So turning yoga into a competition or a sport is somehow making us regress rather than move forward in our evolution. I like when you said that “you simply can’t take the spiritual aspect out of the equation and call it ‘yoga’”. Well said. And your own private yoga room — wow, how blessed! Thanks for visiting Melissa and taking time to read and share your thoughts. Blessings, love & light, namaste…~N

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  3. My says:

    Oh my goodness. I’ve seen a lot of pictures about this competition and some of the poses the contestants did are extremely difficult.

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