Should Yoga Qualify as an Olympic Sport?Posted on Nov 24th 2009 2:00PM by Holly St. Lifer
Filed Under: Fitness
Isn't yoga based on a philosophy emphasizing being uncompetitive? "Its initial intention was to be an inward experience, a path to enlightenment. Competitive yoga takes this spiritual element away," said April Martucci, a Manhattan-based yoga instructor. "I also think once you present it as a sport, less people will do it because they'll feel intimidated, and say, 'I could never do that.'" Tom Larkin, owner of Sanctuary for Yoga, Body and Spirit in Nashville, Tennessee said this Olympic quest isn't being taken seriously by many yoga enthusiasts. "Most of our students and fellow teachers find it to be completely ridiculous," he said.
I'm definitely in Martucci's camp. But not all yoga practitioners agree. "I think it could get the attention of all sorts of people who might not necessarily be drawn to traditional yoga, like young adults who want a physical outlet but aren't into conventional sports, or those that tend to be bookish. It could also attract people who previously viewed yoga as being just for wimps and nerds," said Paula Heitzner of Nyack, New York, who's been teaching classes that incorporate her own unique blend of yoga styles for 40 years.
As a highly motivated, over-achieving type, my yoga class is the one place where I feel like I don't have to try. "You can do this posture, or perhaps not," my instructor Betsy Ceva always says before incorporating one that's more advanced. I do what I can according to how my body feels, not what I think I might be capable of if I just put more oomph into it. So for those yoginis like me who don't like the idea of competition, they can just skip those types of classes, but for others it might be fun to explore. "There are plenty of runners who don't compete," said Heitzner. "They run just for the joy of it, or to unwind or stay in shape. It's an option that's all."