Like any competitive sport such as gymnastics, yoga postures need grace, style, balance and flexibility. Yet yoga has something deeper to offer. To many it is a spiritual practice, a pathway to a more profound understanding of life.
Dinesh Kashikar, senior Art Of Living Yoga teacher, shares his views about entering yoga pose practice as a competitive sport in Olympics. He feels that this move will attract more people to take up yoga and reap the benefits of regular yoga practice.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's view
Q: People are talking about bringing yoga to Olympics. What do you feel? Should yoga be made a competition?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, definitely. For whatever reason, if people do yoga, I am satisfied with that. Even if it is a competition at the Olympics, or in school or through the Yogathon event. At least do it. When you do Yoga you will get a lot of benefit. It is good regardless of the reason for which it is done.
Q: Will yoga lose its quality and essence if it is made a competition? Or will it become more popular and benefit many?
Yoga by nature is not a competition or a sport. Yet at the same time including yoga in Olympics will give a boost to the field of yoga.
Including yoga in the Olympics would definitely encourage many people to practice this philosophy.
More and more participation will give us yoga icons. For example, many people play cricket because they are inspired by their icons. Many people want their children to play cricket because they want to emulate cricket legends like Sachin Tendulkar. Similarly many people will want their children to take up yoga.
Yoga fulfills the criteria
Any form of sport which gives entertainment, helps us to break our barriers, go beyond. All these things are there in performing yoga postures also. It gives joy to the person doing it and it is a great way to explore the limit of human potential. All the criteria for a sport is also fulfilled by yoga. Of course, yoga by its nature is not competitive. Just like we have amateur football and professional football, why not same way we can have amateur and professional yoga-offs.
Take the Yogathon challenge -
Can you do 108 Sun Salutations?
Art of Living’s Yogathon is encouraging
people all over the world to do Sun Salutations on World Health Day (April 7). Those who perform 108 Surya Namaskars will get a gold certificate. More than five million participants have already registered with many participants from schools and colleges. 108 Surya Namaskars has become a goal for many and people are working towards that.
Yoga is also practiced by people from so many different nations and communities. It is for everyone. Yoga fulfils the criteria of a sport. Though, as a lifestyle practice and philosophy, yoga is much more than a sport.
When I conducted Art Of Living Yoga programs in Japan, many yoga enthusiasts loved it. They said, 'This is what we were really looking for.' Whichever way people come to yoga, they can eventually find the real essence of yoga. People come to yoga through something else, but then they get the real flavor of yoga. A person who is really enthusiastic will dwell deeper into the knowledge.
There is a lot of concern about yoga getting diluted. Entering Olympics won’t diminish the value of yoga. It’s a precious gift in itself to humanity.
Q: Yoga has many aspects. It is about having a balanced approach towards every aspect of life. So if we include it as a sport, won’t those aspects get compromised?
Yoga is like an ice cream shop; you have many flavors. You choose what you want to take. It is not compulsory to take everything. Those who want to go deeper and find the real essence, they anyways will go for it. If someone is practicing yoga poses for competition, it is their choice. And as most people have experienced, they might start on the path of yoga for health benefits or improve their body's flexibility, but sooner or later everyone experiences the subtler benefits of yoga. Yoga has everything. It is for everyone.