man using yoga mat on beach

Is Yoga a Sport?

Before we start – I am no ‘guru’ nor a spiritual expert. I just enjoy Meditation and Yoga and wanted to start a blog from my perspective of trying to create a daily routine that allows me a glimpse of the stillness they can bring. I try to link out to as many reputable sources within these posts as I can, some of these external links enable me to earn a commission which helps towards the running of the blog.

In today’s world, people are becoming more health-conscious than ever as they look to combat both emotional and physical issues in their lives.

As a result, there arises an increased expenditure on healthcare. However, this can be avoided naturally with the help of a sport. In recent times, fitness is closely associated with yoga as the results of yoga are seen in every direction, the best part is, it comes with minimal investment compared to other traditional sport. However is yoga really a sport and if so what defines a sport?

The literal meaning of sports is ‘leisure’-the time spent in any activity that makes you feel good. It can be defined as an activity that has set of pre-defined rules that involve competition, happiness, physical and mental health. According to the Global Association of International Sports Federations, the following criteria are used to define a Sport.

• Primarily physical
• Primarily mental
• Primarily motorized
• Primarily coordination
• Primarily animal supported
• Involves competition

Considering the above factors, yoga definitely gives physical and mental stability by gaining the control over the body and mind. As far as benefits and rules are concerned, yoga meets the criteria of a sport, but it cannot be categorized literally as a ‘sport’ because there isn’t any competition. There are no teams in yoga, and there is no question of winning or losing.

The purpose of yoga

Yoga is a conventional form of practicing exercises efficiently where the aim is to unite the body and mind. It doesn’t make you sweat or increase your heart beats as compared to playing a soccer or basketball. It is all about postures, balance, and breaths. It brings inner joy and peace that is everlasting. Life is an art where you get to experience all shades of emotions.

At some point in time, you feel the need to understand the reason for your existence. You eventually learn to live a life as an artist by blending smoothly all the shades that you come across in your journey. Yoga helps you balance your life by maintaining good health, improving emotional quotient, achieving peace, and experiencing eternal bliss!

The Role That Sports Play Within Our Society

Sports consist of competitive physical activities that are well-organized while maintaining good health, improving physical skills and providing entertainment to the participants and viewers.

They come with a set of rules and regulations, time limits, and unique dress codes that are well-defined globally. Sports involve a lot of money in the form of sponsorships, investments, coaching, and prizes. They are purely based on hardships and practice. There is no involvement of living creatures. There is no contribution of the ‘luck’ factor, for example, kicking the football requires strength and coordination from the team. There is no scope of luck in this game. If you play well you win else your opponent team wins.

A sport is considered a physical education where the qualities of discipline, leadership, coordination, passion, perseverance, positivity, and sociability are taught along with physical training. The purpose of sports is to make you an all-round better person thereby establishing your career in conjunction with providing entertainment to the people.

Yoga, a Part of Sports?

In this modern world, people are making conscious efforts to spread its awareness. Different countries have different opinions about considering yoga as a part of sports. The Union Sports Ministry of India decided to include yoga in the sports category. It is in the sports priority list where the funds are supplied to the National Championships, international events in India, and to provide a foreign exposure to the deserving candidates.

As far as other countries are considered, they are actively participating in promoting its significance. However, whether yoga should be identified as a sport or not, remains the matter of debate.

USA Yoga Federation is on the verge of making yoga a sport by creating a competitive atmosphere among the athletes. They are planning to include scores, rules, rewards, dress code, and coaching in the same way as traditional sports so that its importance could reach to a larger number of audiences.

Difference between Yoga and Sport

One major difference between yoga and Sport is competition.

Yoga – Not Competitive

There is no competition in yoga; neither are you competing with yourself, nor with your batch mates. You practice becoming calm, relaxed, and healthy. Yoga has the potential to increase your spiritual power. The universe is kind enough to offer you its infinite positive energy. Try devoting time to this generous Universe and make yourself a recipient of its beautiful offerings! It would guide you in leading a happy and peaceful life.

Yoga doesn’t require any prerequisites and can be practiced according to your own convenience. There are no dress codes, teams or rewards, unlike sports. It is not performed for the entertainment of others; rather it can be entertaining to yourself once you develop the passion for it.

Sports –  Competitive

Sports are competitive. Teams, winning/losing, felicitation, and rewards are part of the competition. It is the motivation for the people to opt for something they desire. You develop the passion for winning. You remain enthusiastic about achieving your goal.

The scope of the competition ranges from small sports associations of the townsfolk to the inter-school contests, to the interstate associations and the competitions that are held internationally.

You play to compete with your opponents. You play to bring laurels to yourself, your family, school, city, state, and country. If you are highly ambitious, you play to earn name, fame, and money for your wellbeing. Thus, sports come with multiple other advantages besides providing good health.

Sports Yoga
Involves competition No competition
Time limitations No time limitations-can practice as long as you feel happy in practicing
Consist of teams You are the independent performer
Involves dress code No particular dress code as long as you are comfortable
Require physical training Yoga knowledge can be acquired either physically or virtually (online courses).
Involves rewards and prize money Your improved version is your reward

Yoga is everywhere – even in sports

Sports come with injuries and yoga could be the best option for preventing or treating injuries. It comes at free of cost healing the body in a natural way. The focus is the key requirement in any game and yoga helps in increasing the focus. It teaches you to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Having a sound sleep is crucial for any sport and yoga plays a prominent role in providing a peaceful sleep. Professional athletes do not hesitate to give credit to yoga for their improved health. If you’re looking to start yoga in order to avoid injuries sustained in other sports we advise the use of a nonslip yoga towel and yoga blocks to aid your posture.

It is believed to solve the problems of the lower back, muscle pain, and joint pains. Even the serious health issues would be solved smoothly with the help of yoga. Remember, when you intake any medicine, its effect is seen sooner when you practice yoga regularly with a belief. The medicines actually work when you make an effort in making it work!

Similarities between Sports and Yoga

• Develop physical and mental health
• Boosts concentration
• Improves sleep patterns
• Gives happiness
• Uplifts your spirits
• No involvement of living creatures
• No involvement of ‘luck’ factor
• Performed on empty or less filled stomach


Although conventionally, yoga does not exhibit a key attribute of a sport – competitiveness, it brings in all the benefits of a traditional sport and adds more – providing spiritual balance. Considering yoga as a sport or not is an individual choice. However, it has a unique quality of making you healthy and all-round person. Yoga is slowly emerging in every corner of the world, and its practice along with the conventional sports would achieve the best results.

Charlie Morley

I'm Charlie. I’m not a ‘guru’ or yogi with ten vipassana retreats under my belt. Far from it. I just enjoy Meditation and Yoga and want to create a daily routine that allows me to be present, mindful and in touch with consciousness and thought I would blog about the process.

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