Yoga to become an Olympic sport? At one Toronto event, it seems like a real possibility
Competitive yoga may seem like the ultimate oxymoron, but according to the Toronto Star, it’s all too real. The “sport” boasts international competitors and even has potential to be part of the Olympic games. Following the recently completed Eastern Canada Regional Yoga Asana competition in Toronto, the Bishnu Charan Ghosh International Yoga Asana Championship takes place on June 18 and 19 in Los Angeles. Founder of the Bikram yoga series, Bikram Choudhury, feels this is a step in the right direction for yoga—in fact, he’s advocated to Lord Sebastian Coe and the American Olympic Association to make yoga a competitive category in the Olympic Games. Just how vicious is a yoga showdown? “It’s not really like that,” Teshia Maher tells the Star. “The energy is not that way.”
The Yoga Asana Championship started in 2003 and the Eastern Canadian regional competition was held at Toronto’s Second City in March in front of about 200 people. Each competitor is required to perform a series of seven postures in three minutes—the first five poses are mandatory and the last two are participant’s choice. Maher finished third at the Eastern regionals this year and maintains that “the postures you choose reflect your personality.” Competitors are judged on focus, concentration, grace and the difficulty of the postures. “Nobody’s actually out to beat the other person or to win. It’s more about challenging yourself,” Maher says.
Perhaps someone should mention this to Choudhury, who spoke with CNN’s iReport in February, explaining his goal to have yoga become an Olympic recognized sport. “This is more important than any other sport. The world is going in the wrong direction and if everybody does, especially at a young age, yoga, this world will be a better world, no question about it, just like India,” Choudhury said. Considering he’s copyrighted Bikram’s 26 postures, we’re not so sure Choudhury’s Olympic motivations aren’t based in competition. But watching this video, we’ve got to admit these yogis are definitely athletes worthy of admiration.