Is Yoga a Sport
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Is Yoga a Sport

Is Yoga a Sport

Yoga has probably been developed around 5000 years ago, and only in the past 50 years or so, it has been introduced to the western world. It has become very popular in the western world as a form of exercise and physical activity. However, in the Indian tradition, it is considered to be so much more than a physical activity, it is a spiritual experience while one learns to connect with the body and soul. Asking the question “is Yoga a sport?” can have different answers depending who you ask, so I will try to explain the definition of a sport and the aspects of yoga so you could conclude for yourself if yoga is a sport or not.

Sports and Me

Before I begin, I would like to tell you a little bit about myself. I would consider myself to be a person who trains and exercises at least three times a week (not including yoga), when I was young I used to compete in every sport you could imagine, running, cycling, swimming, basketball, tennis, volleyball and well, I guess you get the idea. So for me, as someone who loves doing sports and has been competing ever since I was a child, when I think about the question is yoga a sport, I can say that yoga has so many different goals compared to traditional sports that I am not sure I would like to consider it as one.

Is Yoga a Sport

What is Considered a Sport

According to SportAccord, which is the ‘Mother Organisation’ for Olympic and non-Olimpic international sports federations, they have developed a definition as to whether or not an applicant federation qualifies as a sport.

The sports within SportAccord can be classified in the following categories:

  • Primarily physical
  • Primarily mind
  • Primarily motorised
  • Primarily coordination
  • Primarily animal-supported

Some sports have been classified in multiple categories; this is mostly due to different disciplines.

They have also mentioned that a sport should have an element of competition and should not rely on any ‘luck’ element, take basketball, for example, it’s a good thing that shooting a hoop isn’t all luck otherwise it would be a little bit weird to understand the point of the game. In addition to that, the sport should also be unharmful in any way to any living creatures.

  • Applications from martial arts and combat sports will be considered with the greatest care due to the complex nature and relatively minor differences between various martial arts and combat sports.
  • Applications from mind games will only be considered after consultation with the International Mind Sports Association.
  • Applications from sports with limited physical or athletic activity will be considered with the utmost care.

What is Yoga

If you have ever practiced yoga then you probably know that yoga doesn’t make your heart beat fast and it doesn’t make you sweat as much as running or playing soccer, in yoga you focus more on your posture and on your breath. It feels more of a meditation than a sport, concentrating on your breath can sometimes be very difficult for some, and learning how to use your breath during the yoga exercise can take some time.

Yoga is really more of a self-discipline, which includes controlling the breath, learning to meditate and experiencing the infinite potentials of our mind and soul. There isn’t a time limit to practicing yoga, you can practice for more than an hour or for only 10 minutes and that would still be great.

==> Click Here For Easy 10-Minute Yoga Exercises For Beginners <==

Yoga is not competitive, nor with yourself nor with your fellow classmates, when you practice yoga you are becoming aware of your own self and learning how to become more calm and relaxed. Yoga is definitely not a competition of who is more flexible or who can stay in the Tree Pose longer or who can breathe with more conscious. Yoga is individual and each of us has a different experience while practicing it.

The Union Sports Ministry in India Says Yoga Is a Sport

According to an article published by “The Hindu” in 2015, the Union Sports Ministry has decided to include yoga into the list of sports.

It has been “decided to recognise yoga as a sports discipline and place it in the ‘priority’ category”

The USA has yet to declare yoga as a sport, but the USA Yoga Federation is dedicated to promoting yoga as a sport. Their members are judges, coaches, and athletes. They also develop rules and scoring so:

  …athletes have the opportunity to demonstrate competitive excellence.

Their vision includes advocating the practice of yoga as a means to better human health.

My Opinion

The more I think about it and the more I remember the feelings I have while I do traditional sports, the adrenalin, the excitement the heavy breathing. I feel that yoga has a completely different purpose. When I am doing my yoga routine, whether it is a morning routine or a 10-minute exercise I feel relaxed and calm when I finish it, which is quite the opposite from when I am back from running, completely tired and longing for a rest.

I am not an expert in deciding what is considered to be a sport and what is not, but the bottom line is that I wouldn’t consider it to be a sport. Even though I know that it has many health benefits and can be very important to our physical and mental health. For me, a sport is something more competitive, where you want to win against someone else. Which is not the case in yoga.

It isn’t very intuitive for me to understand how someone can win at a yoga competition, but then again, dancing is also a sport with judges that are experts in their field and can decide who is a better dancer. Maybe someday in the future when there will be yoga competition I will understand it better and change my mind. 🙂

What Do You Think?

Do you think that yoga should be considered a sport? Do you think there should be yoga competitions? or do you think that yoga shouldn’t be in the category of sports at all?

I would love to read your comments, so please leave them here below and I will be happy to reply.



  • Dalton

    Hi Paulina,

    I agree with your opinion that sports are a bit more competitive. I love yoga, I love what it does for my body.

    It helps me to stretch out, relax my mind, and relax my body. While it can be great for your overall physical condition I remember all of my athletic bouts to be those that were competitive in nature. I definitely remember that adrenaline rush that you described too. Even mental sports are more competitive in nature. For example, I think one could classify chess as a sport. I like the idea of yoga as more of an athletic activity or a healthy hobby.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I had never really considered this as a discussion until now.


    • Paulina

      Hi Dalton,
      Thanks for commenting and I also love yoga for so many reasons, not only the health benefits but also the way that it makes me feel and how it can calm my mind and soul.
      I also think that this discussion is very interesting because everyone hs a different definition of the word “sport”.

  • Hari S Nair

    Well, this posts makes me think of how one perceives the word “sport” itself. When used within the context of the usual sports where there is winning and losing, there definitely is competition involved but that is sort of our mind’s association of the two things because we have always been looking at “sport” from the angle of winning or losing.

    In order to encourage people to try yoga, it should be made popular like any other sport but when the competition thing will naturally come into the play the very purpose of yoga that is “inner peace” will get defeated.

    I think using the word “art” will be appropriate because in that way people can have a better idea that this particular wisdom is for the betterment of their inner world.

    Just in your example of “dancing” we can infer that it is ultimately an art which people do because they love doing it, but when there is a competition it becomes more about impressing others.

    Whether yoga will become a sport or not? I don’t know, but I know it is already an art.

    • Paulina

      When I think about the word ‘sport’ the first thing that pops into my mind is ‘competition’, maybe because that is the background that I come from but for someone that is practicing martial arts or dancing might not consider sports as something that must be competitive.
      Using the definition of ‘art’ for yoga is very interesting because as of today yoga is still not considered a sport in most countries and cultures.
      Yoga has many health benefits so until someone will decide if it is a sport or not we can still enjoy it 🙂

  • Ravi

    Hey Paulina,

    Great topic. It’s interesting to know how both East and West defines it differently. For competitive yoga maybe it could be who can hold a posture the longest?

    or who can do a pranayama the longest or deepest? It would be interesting to see developments in this area and what can be done to promote yoga as a sport.

    Sport or not I agree with you….the health benefits are enormous!.

    I would like to see a competitive twist to it so people would get serious and practice!


    • Paulina

      Hey Ravi, I don’t know how one can judge yoga but I definitely agree with you that it will be very interesting to see the development in this field in the years to come. Maybe if yoga would be officially considered a sport then more people would be interested in it… But for now, we can enjoy the many health benefits of yoga without competition 🙂

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