When you live in Montclair, yoga’s one of those things you might do – like taking a long walk or going over to the coffee shop. Some folks are more devoted or competitive than others, and that seems fine.
Classes always feel like a calm oasis. Our local spot is Mountain Yoga (map), which welcomes real yogis and forever-amateurs like me. If you want to drive a little, another nice studio is Piedmont Yoga (map).
Yet all is not calm in yoga paradise. There’s tension brewing among yoga practitioners, who are arguing about whether yoga should be a competitive sport. You can see all the chi or life force getting used up.
Why debate this now? Yoga will be a demonstration sport during the Beijing Olympics. The idea is that agility, stamina, strength and other physical skills can be rewarded through several asanas or poses that are practiced in Bikram-style hot yoga studios around the world.
Many yogis feel torn apart. Over at Yoga Journal, one person declared: “To take the inner work of yoga and place judgment in the hands of something external seems to be the opposite of what yoga is. This competition simply illustrates the growing chasm between Bikram and traditional yogic practice. I can’t say I support it.”
At least Ashhtangas could joke they were the best competitive style: “We felt Ashtanga was a natural choice, with its predetermined sequence and various series of practice. Iyengar was too slow for TV, Bikram yoga too revealing, Anusara yoga too touchy-feely, and Vinyasa, well, too free-form” said an official.
The reactions depend on which Yoga you practice – a lot like how religions declare “their world views” to the exclusion of others. This strikes me as the ultimate irony, since yoga’s about acceptance!