Sunday, August 12, 2012

Should Yoga be in the Olympics?

With today marking the last day of the 2012 Summer Olympics, many people all over the world are watching the Closing Ceremonies and a question has been brought up by a number of people of "Should Yoga be in the Olympics?".  The concept of yoga being in the Olympics is more of an oxymoron than anything.  A few months back I was approached by a international organization, that is deeply associated with Bikram Chowdry, with efforts to make this idea of Yoga being an Olympic event a reality.  When I was asked to be an Ambassador, my initial response was Yoga is not a sport, but a practice intended for spiritual liberation through an 8 Limb Practice.  The reality is, Yoga is an 8 Limb practice, if it is in the Olympics is their any way to determine how much Ahimsa an individual practices? Or will Pranayama be an event?  Obviously it is strictly about Asana, but if they do this, then the point of the practice is lost. 

While they gave me the speech about how it will bring awareness to Indian Culture, to Yoga, and to bring more people to the practice, I still disagreed with this concept. 

I understand that this will bring more awareness to the practice of Yoga.  But is this the right kind of awareness?  The awareness should be self-realization, which is why people find yoga in their lives, when they are meant to, or better yoga finds them.  Could his just be another way to commercialize and demoralize an ancient practice that has nothing to do with competition?

A brilliant Articles that also intrigued me recently was:
YOGA as an OLYMPIC Sport by Alejandra Campos

While valid points of the exerpt from BKS Iyengar's book accounting for when certain Yogis were picked by Krishnamacharya to perform asana in front of the Maharaj.  Perhaps their Guru used judgement and discernment to find the appropriate student for this demonstration, but the Maharaj was not adjudicating their demonstrations.  Did this spark interest in Yoga?  Of course.  But does it mean people (mostly an audience of royalty & politicians) rushed to the shala or nearest ashram? Not necessarily.  Bharatanatyam (traditional Indian Dance) which requires great physical skill was also performed in front of the Maharaj, along with Snake Charming....Should these be Olympic Sports as well?

Is it possible that Yoga could be an Olympic Sport, yes, sadly it is possible.  There are Yoga competitions worldwide already.  Does this mean it is good for the "yoga community"?  Well the reality is, this ever growing Yoga Community is changing this ancient practice in many ways.  We must ask ourselves are we focused on liberating people spiritually through a 8 Limb practice of Purification?  Or is this to suit corporate interests and personal fame agendas?  We all can agree on the benefits of Yoga.  Now, lets be aware that Karma is an inevitable reality people, so lets focus on the goal of Samadhi.  If yoga is a life long practice, how can one prepare for an Olympic Event without practicing a lifetime?

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