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Does the notion of a yoga competition upset you? If so, you’re not alone. It’s perfectly understandable. For those of us who have found yoga to be the sanctuary that helps us to find inner peace, relief from the stresses of our everyday life, or as the foundation of our spiritual practice, the thought of competition entering that realm can be very disturbing. Yet yoga championships are not meant to diminish these aspects of a yoga practice, instead, their intention is to deepen them.
Yoga competitions have been taking place in India for hundreds of years. In describing a recent competition organized in India, Yogacharya Dr. Ananda Bhavanani of the International Yoga Federation said the following, “The aim of this competition is to help the youth of India to understand, explain and express the true meaning of yoga as a way of life, as well as a spiritual path to self-actualization and self-realization.”
Theologian Karen Armstrong, in her book, The Case for God, describes how it was the ancient Indians who had the most diplomatic and progressive way of determining whose view of God was the best. A group of yogis would prepare for days by fasting and using breathing techniques and then go off to meditate in the forest on their own, each in search of a greater understanding of life, the scriptures, and spirituality. Upon returning they would gather together and share of their experience. One would begin and another would add to it or share from their newfound perspective and that would go on until eventually someone shared something so profound that it silenced all the rest. In this way, they all participated, put forth their personal best, and evolved as a group from the exposure to other’s experience and wisdom.
Inner peace, grace, composure, charisma, discipline, and determination are what create champions. A championship is an opportunity to showcase and celebrate the full potential of a regular, disciplined practice. For those who are interested in taking their yoga practice or anything they do to a new level, there is no better impetus than entering a competition.
The event itself serves two purposes; it propels the contestants to rise to their personal best physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, and, in turn, inspire the audience through their performance. The overwhelming response from those who have competed has been amazement at both what they were able to achieve and the way the whole process changed their lives. Those in the audience have walked away with a desire to learn more about yoga and some are inspired to achieve similar results.
Yoga organizations worldwide have been campaigning to turn yoga into an Olympic event. Yoga would be the biggest Olympic event ever as it can be done anywhere, at any time with no necessary props. It breaks through all geographic and economic barriers that have been limits for some events or countries.
The Texas Yoga Asana Championship’s mission is to heal the world, bringing peace and well-being one person at a time through the regular practice of yoga. Yoga as an Olympic event would create the most widespread opportunity for expanding awareness of yoga and its myriad benefits.
While not every yoga practitioner nor every yoga discipline will take part in formal yoga competitions, all stand to benefit from the heightened awareness that the competitions generate.