So… I have been watching some of the Olympics. I have to admit that I feel great emotion seeing people achieve so much that is unexpected, or beautiful. I feel concerned about the care and treatment they give to their bodies, and look forward to the little snippets of insight offered about the lifestyle of the people involved. Having taught a few Olympic hopefuls in my teaching career, I can sympathize with the long-term grueling schedules these young people endure year after year in preparation, and the amount this affects the lives of the family, friends, and teachers that surround them. It is truly a team effort in every case.
So I have been thinking about the fact that there are people attempting to bring yoga to the Olympics in 2016.
I have really mixed feelings about this.
Inherently, I feel bringing any sense of competition onto the mat is inappropriate. We don’t look at others in class, nor do we learn by comparison to others, but through the experience of our own bodies. We seek to experience what our own bodies can do. I am just not emotionally in favor of changing the non-competitive nature of our discipline. I think it is in some ways disrespectful to the history and teachings that have been passed down to me.
At the same time, we all come to yoga in our own way. If placing yoga out into the world, on a big stage, enables more people to find the practice, and to access authentic teaching, then I am all for it. I am not sure it matters much whether “their” yoga is the same as “my” yoga. We are all together, regardless of how any of us feels about specific practices. A person cannot “get” so far in the practice without actually learning the tradition. If yoga could be offered in some grand context, I am not going to be against it. I would just be hopeful that the history and traditions would not be spurned or cast aside.
I guess this means that I am not completely against yoga competition. I would watch this and be comfortable with it. I doubt it would become more important to the tradition than it is already. There will be people who love this and they should not be cast out of the community. We need all of us to make a complete yoga community. Still. I think it is not for me.
If you have never seen yoga competition, it does already exist, and can be inspiring to watch. There are traditional forms in the practice shown, and people have the opportunity to showcase their own particular styles, asanas, and abilities. I’ll be interested in what you think. Usually, there are specific poses that must be chosen for the first several forms. Then, there are a few that the individual may choose on their own. You will hear them discussed in the first video as optional poses.
There is value in seeing what the human body is capable of in yoga, or any other circumstance. It just matters if we can also maintain our own connection to the actual core teachings of yoga and can pass the practice on as yoga, rather than just seeing yoga as a competition.
What do you think?
Yoga Pose of the Day: Natarajasana - Dancer
Yogic Concept of the Day: How does a sense of competition affect my own yoga practice? In what ways may this be helpful or unhelpful?