Come 2020 and you may see people competing in ‘yoga competitions’ in Olympics. US-based couple Bikram and Rajashree Choudhary, who started Bikram’s Yoga College of India, have started holding regional Yoga competitions of late in the US.
In an interview to a New York national daily, Rajashree Choudhary said, “It’s far away. A lot of work needs to be done before we really get into it, but this is our dream.”
In these regional contests, participants perform five postures in three minutes. And they are judged on flexibility, difficulty of the poses and overall execution. The report further states Choudhary as saying, “We are not trying to judge any kind of spirituality when they are out there.” The whole thing of taking only the physical aspect of yoga in consideration has sparked off a debate.
Actor-director Shekhar Kapur has strongly put his case on his blog, saying, “Not sure what to make of this one. Apparently Yoga is going competitive in the US. Since the essence of Yoga is completely internal, how can you judge a Yogi? Would you put brain sensors on to see if there are truly alpha waves being emitting? Or do people now see Yoga as form of gymnastics? I would have thought that competition is the antithesis of Yoga.”
Dr Ishwar V Basavaraddi, director, Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga, Government of India, says, “Technically speaking, Yoga has not even appeared in Commonwealth or Asian Games, so how can people think about Olympics? But if they (Bikram and Rajashree) are doing it keeping ethical and moral aspects in mind and helping a person evolve, then there’s no harm.” Navtej Johar, head, Abhyas Trust, refuses to encourage his students for any competition related to Yoga. “It’s a personal practice. You cannot judge any one on the postures, flexibility, etc.” Bharat Thakur, who has been teaching yoga to Bollywood stars such as Kareena Kapoor, says, “The thought of including Yoga as a sport in the Olympics will bring in competition, which is not the aim of Yoga. It is against its ethos.”