Yoga as a sport?
There is still so much controversy surrounding the concept of Yoga as a Sport.
Knowing that Yoga is one of the six philosophical systems of India, Yoga Sports focuses on the Asanas. The Asanas are one of the eight limbs of Yoga, where we can meet outside and verify our inner work.
If you look closely, yoga and sport both aim to maintain and improve our physical skills. They both transform our physical state, entertain us. Both Yoga and traditional Sports entertain those watching, and both bring joy to the mind.
Therefore, as Sports are governed by rules and regulations in order to ensure fair play and just competition, Yoga is also governed by ethical principles of honesty and integrity. The goal is the same.
In Sports, the term sportsmanship expresses aspiration, that the activity will be enjoyed for its own sake. In Yoga the term “santosha” expresses the same: it refers to a joy which is independent of external sources.
In other words, if you play a Sport or perform a Yoga posture on stage and you feel joy of doing it, you are a champion. This is the message that we want to get through--healthy competition and unity through Sport to the new generation. Please, help us spread the IYSF message, help us introduce this new branch of Yoga as a Sport discipline.
Yoga Sport, founded on the millenary-held values of traditional Indian Yoga, in competitions turns its total attention to asanas/postures. IYSF judges score the asanas based on difficulty, minimum expression, traditional recommended execution and characteristics of the athletic aspects of strength, flexibility and balance. Postures are divided into six groups of skills performed by the athlete during the competition:
1. Back Bend
2. Forward Compression
While honoring the main principles of Yoga, the athlete must hold each posture for 3-5 seconds and must complete the six-posture routine within three minutes.
In all IYSF National, Continental and International championships scores given by IYSF official judges are displayed immediately via IYSF tabulation grids, assessing percentages of difficulty and execution. Time Judges deduct points for not holding postures long enough. IYSF grids are fully in accordance with IYSF rules and regulations and all rights of usage are fully reserved to IYSF.
Only National federations can certify National Judges and Coaches acting on national level and International Yoga Sport federation certifying those acting on international level.
Only IYSF National and Continental Championships can qualify athletes for the World Championship.
Organization and Goals
The only way for yoga sports to get world-wide recognition is to develop yoga sports discipline under IYSF as a world-governing body and unifying all National Federations and their competitions.
Classically in sport, all competitions are divided into several levels, depending on their statutory importance according to their world governing bodies.
IYSF has two-level competition criteria:
- National Championships: only those can qualify athletes for the Continental cups and World (Global) Cup. Continental cups can act as a substitute in cases where a country doesn’t have the National Federation.
- International Competitions (invitational cups): these can also include different disciplines of yoga sports competitions (synchronous, team performances etc.). Athletes can participate in such international competitions regardless of the results of national championships and are delegated in accordance within the competencies of each National Federation.
All National, International, Continental and Global (World) Yoga Sport competitions are organized by IYSF National federations or appointed IYSF Continental Councils (according to IYSF statues) and must be registered on the IYSF calendar.
Only competitions registered in this manner will be considered IYSF events.
IYSF aims to encourage yoga athletes to participate in as many competitions as possible as well as organizing yoga sports competitions using the IYSF rules, scoring system, and other IYSF materials restricted to IYSF-recognized official federations and appointed continental councils.
IYSF is currently working on meeting the criteria for inclusion in GAISF (Global Association of International Sports Federation, gaisf.sport) which is the first step to becoming an Olympic Sport. This requires meeting several criteria, including unifying 40 active federations spread on 5 continents, regular national and international competitions, and developing rules and regulations and IYSF's own educational program for coaches, judges and athletes.
IYSF will unite and assist its official members and oversee all IYSF yoga sport competitions worldwide, fully adhering to the principles of World Anti-Doping Convention and Fair Play as any other sport governing body on its way towards the inclusion as an Olympic sport.