Thursday, October 28, 2010

Yoga as a Competitive Sport

452 classes (10 advanced) in 439 days.

As many of you may know, it is a goal of Bikram and his wife to get yoga into the Olympics as an official sport at some point down the road. This would of course greatly increase the visibility of Hatha Yoga in general and Bikram Yoga in particular. It would also make it possible to get Bikram Yoga being taught in schools because it would be considered an official sport, which would be absolutely fantastic. There are a few points which I believe would greatly facilitate this and make it happen much sooner.

The first point is there needs to be a clear distinction between Bikram Yoga as a form of exercise/healing/meditation and Bikram Yoga as a competitive sport. This can be quite a difficult task, as practically no one considers yoga as a competitive sport, including many people who practice it. Some people even have large objections to yoga competitions in general. I’m not going to get into those arguments here other than to say that promoting yoga as a sport would introduce more people to yoga than practically anything else.

Making the distinction between the practice of yoga for its many benefits and yoga as a competitive sport really isn’t that difficult. Almost every competitive sport you see is also done by people just for fun, or for health benefits. There are far more people that run or jog for fun and health reasons than run in competitive marathons. The same goes for anything you see in the Olympics, ice skating, skiing, basketball, whatever. Just because some people compete in those sports doesn’t mean the sports don’t have their own intrinsic benefits to anyone who wants to participate.

The second point is that in order to promote yoga as a sport, it needs to be covered in the media as a sport. This is almost entirely non-existent as far as I can tell. I scour the internet often for media on Bikram Yoga and it’s always covered as some sort of human interest or health story. This is fine, except even yoga competitions in different areas get covered as some sort of cute and quirky activity and not as a sport. There is an excellent website called which does provide data on the different regional competitions in the U.S., but the media coverage really needs to be expanded to the sports world.

Look, in addition to the “main” sports in this country, ESPN covers things such as fishing, bowling and poker. I think we can fit in yoga competitions somewhere in the sports media if these other activities get coverage. I’m not suggesting ESPN starts covering regional yoga competitions, at least right away, but local sports media should absolutely be informed when a yoga competition is going on, not to mention maybe some other websites dedicated to competitions (I already have some of my own ideas for this).

One more thing, if any of these media types balk and scoff at the idea of covering the yoga competitions as a sport, just bring them to the hot room for a class:)



  1. Thanks for the information in your blog posted great to share.


  2. That'd be awesome. Especially for the reasons you give.

    And it would also give retired Olympic athletes in their 20s something new to shoot for later in life.

    Competition always puts an end to complacency. It keeps me busy. A work in progress. Motivated. Inspired. Practice doesn't get boring when I see what amazing things some yogis are doing! It works the same in music. Even if I never wish to go out for the Olympics, the competitiveness, the healthy comparisons that exist is a barometer of progress in my OWN practice.