Competitive Yoga?

How do you create a competitive sport from an activity whose intended purpose is to deliver peace to those who practice it?  Yet, that’s precisely what’s been happening when yoga entered the world of competitive sports.  According to USA Yoga, yoga competitions began in India “hundreds of years ago”. Still, many critics view the concept of competitive yoga as somewhat of an oxymoron.

There’s been talk in recent years (at least in the yoga community) about hopes that someday yoga will be introduced as an Olympic sport.  For now, the International Olympic Committee isn’t giving any signals toward greenlighting that goal.  Although yoga isn’t presently an Olympic sport, it does play an essential part in the lives of many Olympic athletes.

From gymnists to tracksters, yoga has become an essential part of fitness routines that keep the world’s elite athletes in tip-top shape.  It also helps athletes deal with the emotional and mental challenges associated with being an Olympian.  In a recent India Today article, an Olympic boxer described the mental problems associated with being quarantined during COVID-19 and awaiting the postponed Olympics. “I just pray to God all this gets over soon and we can get back to training soon,” said the boxer. “They change the training schedule daily so that boxers never gets bored with the same routine.  Meditation and yoga is also there . . .”

While the yoga community awaits its official spot on the Olympic stage, it continues to operate a limited number of competitions administered by the United States Yoga Federation.  A visit to their website will yield a wealth of helpful information regarding tournaments, schedules, history, and rules.  The rules touch upon every aspect of what you would expect from athletic competition rules, including attire.  For example, the requirements for attire state:

For Females: One or two-piece swimsuit, leotard, or form-fitting outfit with open arms and legs (no bikinis), or similar.

For Males: Speedo style swimsuit or tight-fitting shorts or similar.

As a yogini myself, the guidelines on attire were particularly intriguing to me. Yesterday, I had just coursed a blog post at readysetwellness.com, which touched upon the very same topic.  One thing’s for sure: If I’m ever going to participate in a yoga competition, I’m going have to toss my baggy, Capri style pants and buy some tighter ones!