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Yoga Competitions: Cool or Not?

Many people who try yoga give a Bikram yoga class a try. They're drawn to the fact that it's insanely hot and sweaty, and the poses are really challenging. The founder, Bikram Choudhury, has taken this practice to a whole other level. For a while now there have been yoga competitions all over the world, and Choudhury is hoping that it will become an Olympic sport. He says that "yoga competition is an old Indian tradition," since it's had a competitive dimension for over 2,000 years. He believes yoga won't lose any of its spiritual or emotional perks, but he's hoping yoga competitions will raise awareness about the overall benefits of yoga.

Do you think yoga competitions are an oxymoron, since yoga is supposed to be a personal experience that's not competitive? Or do you think it's a great way to encourage more people to do yoga and improve their practice?

Join The Conversation
Skorpio Skorpio 6 years
I vote cool! To each their own! Spread the Yoga word!
ilovecandyfloss ilovecandyfloss 8 years
I said no, mainly because it worries me that people will see it only as a competitive sport and will get injured from pushing themselves too hard - this is very easy in the heat and energy of Bikram classes. A senior Ashtanga teacher once said that asana demonstrations are a good way of 'spreading the word' about yoga, although it is important to keep in mind that it is not to 'show off', as this is detrimental to your yogic path ('separating from the ego', etc.). So maybe demonstrations would be better than competitions.
anel anel 8 years
On the one hand I think it's nice, since it challenges you to improve your yoga skills and perfect all the postures, but I also think that it is a very personal exercise that is supposed to relax and calm you and the last thing in your mind is whether you are doing it better than somebody else.
pinkmermaid23 pinkmermaid23 8 years
I think it is amazing to watch experienced yogis do the difficult asanas however they are performing...which is the opposite of what yoga is about. This is also very dangerous considering many people watch others "master" the hard poses and push themselves to look like others. Yoga injuries are serious and can be quite damaging. As a yoga teacher, we were trained to always remind students that yoga is non-competitive and non-judgemental so there isn't even a need to look over to another mat and compare yourself to others. Everyone's body's are different, which is why striving to compete and win for the perfect pose is pointless.
cnyc1a cnyc1a 8 years
For me Yoga comes from the Heart. It's a journey within oneself . Inner confidence , love, and gratitude further your practice. Yoga is a form of exercise in the end but with a spiritual twist. The video is very impersonal which is why I don't like it. While I'd like to think people go to Yoga for spiritual awakening I'm sure there are those who just go for the workout. I'm glad my Yoga studios chant and ask you to devote your practice .
Allytta Allytta 8 years
why wouldn't it be cool? you people do it and consider it sport, right? so sport is a competition, so get over yourselves :D
FitZucchero FitZucchero 8 years
Like many others, I have mixed feeling about this an inevitably voted "not cool", but much of this just has to do with the fact that this is being generated by Bikram. I enjoy going to a good Bikram class every once and awhile, but generally feel guilty as I know I'm supporting a franchise run by a guy who really seems to fall into the d-bag category. Yoga's health benefits are great and I do think that it should be promoted more, I just wish it wasn't on Bikram's agenda. He really strikes me as someone who is so incredibly polarizing and exclusive that he personifies exactly what yoga is meant not to be.
Spectra Spectra 8 years
I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, yoga is sort of the most non-competitive thing're supposed to be doing it to relax, not to get all hyper about winning. On the other hand, some of those poses are WICKED hard, so it'd be cool to reward those yogis that can do them somehow. Olympic yoga would kind of be neat to watch, I think.
AlexandraEva AlexandraEva 8 years
Yoga is really, really hard. I know so many athletes who looked at it like it's just some easy stretching for housewives to do in the morning, but then they try it and realize you need crazy muscle endurance to hold some of those poses. I think we do need to spread awareness that it IS as challenging as any other sport.
magalaya magalaya 8 years
I took a Sports Media and Popular Culture class this semester and we totally talked about this! I'm not a yoga practitioner but based on my outsider perspective I think it's kind of weird. We watched a movie all about this and it was about the "westernizing" and commodification of yoga that Bikram himself kind of initiated and drove. And to be honest based on that movie I feel that though yoga competitions have the potential to be fulfilling for those who are competitive, it seems kind of beyond yoga's focus to make it competitive for the practitioners themselves - almost like providing something for OTHER people to look at, not necessarily as providing any spiritual enlightenment for the people actually doing it. But that's just my two cents, I could see how yoga practitioners could feel differently (depending on the individual, of course).
bibelot bibelot 8 years
I don't need to feel vaguely inadequate about my yoga technique, thanks - so I'll leave the competitions to the true diehards and/or status seekers. I enjoy yoga because I want to feel flexible and healthy, not to impress others!
mydiadem mydiadem 8 years
I'm with heatherfeather, this guy is a douchebag from what I've read. Bikram and his yoga can suck it. And the competitions are totally against the whole point of yoga, imo.
Advah Advah 8 years
NO! So many things in life already are a competition, let's not put that stress on yoga too!
darc5204 darc5204 8 years
I don't think it's a big deal. Some people are motivated by competition, it's not stopping the people who like to keep it personal, and it's not like they are encouraging a negative habit.
kia kia 8 years
LOL! skigurl I am such a dork. I actually started watching it to see how bored I would be... I am not. But I am also in a hatha yoga teacher training program right now.
gothamgal gothamgal 8 years
I'm ambivalent about it but if more people can be drawn to yoga b/c of the exposure through competition -- the so-called Type A -- then it could be great.
sunshinepointe sunshinepointe 8 years
I can't get beyond trying to understand the point. You're flexible, congrats? I am too? I didn't see any of the poses she did that any regular practicing yoga student couldn't do? I don't mind that they have competitions I just don't get it?
Stacey-Cakes Stacey-Cakes 8 years
As an avid bikram yogi, I really enjoy the asana competitions. It was great to watch yogis from my studio train for several months and then be able to perform and compete in front of their friends, family, and other competitors. Yes, it is a competition, but anyone, who has had any experience in bikram community, knows how encouraging and supportive everyone is. Last fall, I helped work at the regional competition and am definitely considering competing next year.
skigurl skigurl 8 years
one thing i can tell you is that this is damn boring to watch
HeatherFeather HeatherFeather 8 years
Bikram ISN'T yoga! Yoga is a practice that evolved 5,000 years ago and has many forms; devotional (bhakti), physical (hatha) and more (there are 8 forms of yoga in total). Asana, or physical practice of yoga falls under the hatha form and that is where you find the different types of yoga that most people know today- vinyasa, ashtanga, jivamukti, etc. All of these forms of yoga coexist peacefully and generally each different form of practice respects the others. However, Bikram, has decided in one fell swoop that the past 5,000 years of practice mean nothing and has deciared not only that all of other forms of yoga suck, but that they are not even yoga, that his method is the only real yoga. His blatant diminution and dismissal of real yoga is what irks real practitioners of real yoga, as it is not a yogic practice to denigrate others and aggrandize yourself. Bikram is a bombastic and money grubbing businessman, not a yoga practitioner.
kia kia 8 years
I am torn on this. Cool for those that want to engage in competition or for those drawn to the mentality of competition and may explore yoga after watching it. Definitely not for me though. I enjoy a Bikram session from time to time, and like to work my butt off in a session from time to time, but yoga is mostly an inward focus for me.
bigestivediscuit bigestivediscuit 8 years
So not cool! The point of yoga is NOT competition! Whatever, I don't have a lot of respect for Bikram seeing how obsessed he is with the franchising of Bikram yoga - it's so telling that he lives in Beverley Hills and his primary studio is in LA ...
tlsgirl tlsgirl 8 years
I think it's cool. The fact that there are competitions out there somewhere shouldn't have any effect on an individual's practice if he/she wants to keep it personal. I mean, there are a lot of sports out there that are basically solitary if you want them to be - running and swimming, for example - that can be readily made into a competition without changing anything about the sport for those who want it to remain, for them, a solo sport.
CarmenP CarmenP 8 years
Well I thinks it's actually pretty cool! It's a sport so why couldn't you do it as a competitive sport. You always can choose to not do it in a competition way but just as a relaxing sport.
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