Yoga will be an official sport in the 2016 Olympics in RIO DE JANEIRO 2016 (5th August – 21st August).

The USA Yoga Federation successfully registered yoga as an official sport, turning it into a competition between the best yogis from around the world. The International Olympic Committee approved this decision in early January 2016.

How Will This Work?

During the competition, participants will present a selection of yoga poses before a panel of judges. In three minutes, each competitor will perform five mandatory postures — standing head-to-knee pose, standing bow-pulling pose, bow pose, rabbit pose, and stretching pose. After that, competitors will perform two poses of their choosing. The poses are meant to exemplify how someone can have perfect strength, balance, and flexibility in the body. The competition focuses on the physical feats of yoga rather than the spiritual or meditative aspects. The judges would then rate the contestants on their strength, flexibility, timing, and breathing.

The Olympics have also included a meditation competition that hasn’t yet been clearly planned out yet. Details should be available by May 3rd, 2016.

Those who successfully combine their competitive edge with their inner peace will win the competition.

What About Yoga Being a Practice About the Self?

Some argue that turning yoga into a competition diminishes the values it ultimately aims to promote. The roots of yoga are based in acceptance, non-violence (ahimsa) and compassion toward self and others. What we were taught about yoga is that competition between students is discouraging. The reason for acceptance of yoga into a worldwide competition is to bring yoga to a new generation. Yoga competitions have been known to interest young people who would have otherwise not been introduced to yoga.

Rajashree Choudhury wants to convince you that yoga and hyper-competitive athletic contests go together. Competitions have been going on for thousands of years in India. Yoga is physically strenuous and requires balance and grace, very similar to some types of gymnastics.

Gone are the days when yoga was “relaxing!”


Worldwide Yoga Day was internationally recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in December of 2014. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address included the following description of yoga and its importance: “Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. This tradition is 5,000 years old … It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world, and nature.” While a yoga practice is open to all people, it is also a part of India’s history and culture.

Do you have what it takes to win the gold this 2016?

And since you’ve made it this far, we’d like to apologize for pulling your yogi/ni leg. Happy April Fools’ from the Seattle Yoga News team!