“Out of the eight petals (Limbs) of yoga, the only petal that is exhibitive is the yoga āsans whereas the other petals are very individual and personal. As such there is nothing wrong in holding a competition on the qualitative presentation of the yoga āsanas. The presentation must be very natural with innocence and humility rather than pride and arrogance. Then I consider such competitions as healthy. It should be competitive on the artistic level and not on egoistic body cult."
— B. K. S. Iyengar
Today yoga is an international force! According to Yoga Journal, it is practiced by more than 36 million in the US alone, and growing. It’s roots are Indian and Yoga Āsana (आसन) is India’s physical tradition. Āsanas (yoga postures) are just one aspect of a much deeper meaningful philosophical and spiritual practice. In other words, Yoga Āsana is just the tip of the iceberg! It is the only outwardly visible aspect the 8 limbs of yoga or Patañjali's Aṣṭāṅgayoga of the Yogasuūtras. All the other limbs of are internal, like meditation. Celebrating the practice of postures as athletes, we believe, will inspire practitioners to deepen their own practice and motivate new people to the practice of yoga. Āsana as a sport is not intended to replace all the limbs but rather it is a gateway to the other limbs of yoga. The aim of the Swedish Yoga Sports Federation (SYSF) is to bring the practice of Āsana as a sport to the public for all ages.
SYSF’s aim is to provide the forum for a healthy approach to practicing yoga postures for every "body". We are striving to work with national public universities by offering these programs to be included in study modules. Yoga as a sport is nothing new. Krishnamacharya, one of the most renowned yoga instructors of the 19th century drew on gymnastic exercise at the Mysore Palace system of yoga, a system that some suggest was influenced by Scandinavian gymnastics. Thus, already a sport. We will offer a variety of “yoga sports classes”, coaching and lectures. These sports “Yoga classes" gives us a possibility to expand among non-competing yoga students (especially children), associating public schools, physical education classes on top of private studio owners, and ultimately increase the number of new athletes, which normal trainings do not provide. With proper coaching we can prepare the body to practice the āsanas.
Yoga Asana competitions are said to have originated in India hundreds of years ago and are still being conducted there even today. World Yoga competitions gained force over 30 years ago. It is a way to celebrate the Sport of Yoga Asana. Today IYSF continues this global tradition and organizes international championships. We at SYSF are now bringing this spirit of healthy competition to Sweden. Just because the practice and lifestyle of Yoga as a philosophical, physical, and spiritual practice is not meant to be competitive that doesn't mean that we can not celebrate the Āsana and Yoga in a celebrational event. When a person holds themselves accountable for something higher than themselves, it is a highly motivational force. With that said, competition is the perfect way to hold ourselves up to a better version of our Selves.
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