Yoga goes against the Competition Spirit

I have already written 2 articles about Yoga Asana Championship and Yoga gurus reach for Olympic goal.
But none of you were not surprised about the Yoga interrelation with the Competition spirit. Those who never heard about yoga philosophy should know that Yoga goes against the Competition Spirit.

To cultivate the competition spirit in American yoga is trying famous teacher from India.
Bikram Choudhury, a former yoga champion in his native India who came to America, befriended celebrities, built a global franchise and made millions.

He managed to organize 7 Annual Bishnu Charan Ghosh International Yoga Asana Championships.

Few words about the championship: Participants of this kind of Yoga competition should have been performed 5 obligatory poses or asanas, and 2 poses on their choice. Judges evaluated the quality of technique performance. It was hard not to mix up it with the Gymnastic Championship.

More about competitions: For example, according to the standard of artistic -yoga championships, ( participants should keep to the rules of Yoga Moral codex- non-violence, faithfulness etc. Out from 10 final points only one is added for the physical perfection. The champion is determined according the 4 “spiritual” points. Judges evaluate to what degree ( to their oppinion) participant is calm, marry, full of love, got rid of negative emotions. 🙂

Bikram Choudhury, made a career on Yoga and became Multimillionaire. The future goal is just fantastic – bring Yoga to the Olympic pedestal. But at the same time for many American people, who were able to find in yoga fantastic relaxation from the inherited passion for competition, this yoga approach seem to contradict the very core of the ancient Indian Art.

Entrepreneurial Hindu managed to patent in his honor his own yoga style- Bikram’s Yoga, that  he copyrighted and franchised.

What is Bikram Yoga

Bikram’s style of Yoga is a technique that is done in a hot room. Bikram Yoga consists of 26 postures and 22 breathing exercise.

The question is : Can Choudhury take a sequence of two breathing exercises and 26 yoga poses from an ancient Indian practice, copyright it and control how it is practiced?
Choudhury, America’s best known and most controversial yogi, opened one of his first yoga schools in San Francisco in 1973 and now boasts 900 studios worldwide. He copyrighted, trademarked and franchised his poses, breathing techniques and dialogue, creating the first chain of its kind.
Now, a San Francisco nonprofit organization of yoga enthusiasts from San Rafael to Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., is countering with a federal lawsuit attacking the guru’s claim that yoga is proprietary.

If one can think about the antipode of Yoga ideology- self-forgetfulness, truthfulness, humbleness – this might be only Bikram Choudhury.

WHY? Just because, the meaning of classical yoga lies not in the competition with others, but in achieving inner harmony. Actually, asana practice is only the third of 8 steps in yoga practice. Yoga is necessary for the healthy body improvement and for further preparation to the higher levels of yoga- spiritual search and meditation.

In India, at the yoga motherland, Yoga Asana competition is an ancient tradition. Almost everyone from yoga teachers will write in his resume that he is a gold medalist. Bikram Choudhury absorbed the competition spirti from the very childhood. At 14, Swami Shivananda declared him “Yogi Raj” (King of the Yogis). At age 20, a weightlifting accident crippled Bikram. As an adult he opened yoga schools in India and Japan, and in 1972 he opened his first U.S. school in San Francisco.

Last years yoga competitions spilled over the India and have been emerged several international federation, which assign rank of Yoga champions according to their own standards. The Yoga“show” element is also an ancient history. In ancient times yoga goru used to organized a demonstration of yoga skills at the Indian fairs, including the demonstration of the most difficult yoga asanas. The aim of such fairs was to attract new students. But if in the India itself Yoga Championships seem to be something natural – International Yoga championships seem to be something immoral.
Especially funny are efforts to evaluate not only technical performance of asana, but as well spirit development.

In conclusion I want to repeat my favorite quotation. “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” Martin Luther King Jr



Add yours →

  1. To my mind, it’s just the matter of form of the competition. And, of course, competition or championship are not the right words in this context. I’m not a specialist in this field, but I think it should be something similar to Yoga Performance. Yoga Gurus shouldn’t compete among themselves, it won’t be “real yoga” anymore. As the author said, it will contradict the main yoga approach – to foster the predominance of spiritual things over material. People, who are fond of Yoga, shouldn’t compete, but they should learn how to abstract from the real world and achieve the spiritual heights. As soon as you manage to do that, you can show your abilities and share your experience with others, but not compete!!!

  2. Competetion would give rise to ego and jealousy which is against the very spirit of Yoga.

  3. Super-Duper site! I am loving it!! Will come back again – taking your feeds too now, Thanks.

  4. If only more people could read about this!

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