Pushing the boundaries of the practice of yoga through events such as free flow yoga dance and rhythmic yoga, the the First Federation Yoga Sports Cup that concluded here on Sunday proved to be a one-of-a-kind event.
The team from West Bengal emerged as the overall champion of the event, which saw around 800 participants from 22 States coming forward to test their expertise in the ancient exercise form.
Haryana and Jharkhand followed as first and second runners up. The contest items included Yogasana, artistic yoga, artistic pair yoga, rhythmic yoga and free flow yoga dance.
The unconventional forms of yoga under the tournament would go a long way towards popularising the exercise, said Priya Antony, a participant from Kollam who holds a Masters degree in yoga.
“Items like free flow yoga dance and artistic yoga bring in an element of fun and creativity, making it more attractive to the masses,” she said.
Priya and her partner Harikrishnan S. were placed fourth in the artistic pair event. However, not all proponents of yoga are happy with this turn of events.
Balakrishnan Swami, president of the Yoga Association of Kerala, is of the opinion that making yoga a competitive sport is a deviation from its essence as a spiritual practice.
“Yoga is practised to enhance the ‘Sattva guna’, characterised by serenity and virtuousness,” he said.
“But by competing in it, you bring out the ‘Rajo guna,’ which is the quality of passion, activity as well as self-centredness,” he said.
Nonetheless, the association has decided to support competitive events in the light of recent trends, though a distinction between competitive and usual practice will be maintained, he said.
The tournament was organised by the Yoga Association of Kerala, under the auspices of the Yoga Federation of India.