With 500 days to go until the Opening Ceremony, we’ve just learned that Ashtanga Yoga was chosen to become a demonstration sport at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, joining BMX cycling!
Yoga has been considered for a long time, but due to its non-competitive nature it had never made it before. The organisers feel that with the inherent implicit competition present in Ashtanga Yoga, it was not too much of a stretch to include it as a sport. Rajashree Choudhury, who organized yoga competitions in the past, estimated that India has held yoga pose competitions for about 100 years, and recent contests have sprouted up in Brazil and Japan. Says a famous teacher who wished to remain anonymous:
Finally it will make it more acceptable to openly ask “what posture are you at?”
Another hurdle faced by the Olympic committee was which style of yoga to choose, since there are hundreds in existence.
“We felt Ashtanga was a natural choice, with its predetermined sequence and various series of practice. Iyengar was too slow for TV, Bikram yoga too revealing, Anusara yoga too touchy-feely, and Vinyasa, well, too free-form” said an official.
The event will be structured similarly to the decathlon. There will be 6 different rounds held for men and women, each representing a series in Ashtanga. Competitors who make it past the first round of the Primary Series will then compete in the Second Series round and so forth. “We think that Sharath will win because he is the only one in the world who knows the sixth series” said an old-timer, “but that should not make it any less interesting.”
Judging will be similar to gymnastics, with yogis and yoginis evaluated on various aspects of their practice: depth of breath, bandha and dristi control, levels of sweat and flexibility. There was even a call to have an artistic interpretation score but it was rejected by the traditionalist faction of the Olympic committee.
Prana and Nike are already vying to be the official suppliers of the competitors’ shorts.
We cannot wait until August 8 2008 at 8:08 and 8 seconds!