Yoga, Pole Dancing and Cheerleading: Olympic Sports?

Yoga, pole dancing and cheerleading are petitioning to become Olympic sports.


Think about Yoga and you think of limber yogis stretching their way to inner peace, but it seems those fanatical about yoga are more competitive than we first thought. USA Yoga, the governing body over the pond, has applied to the United States Olympic Committee to get yoga included in the 2016 Olympic games.

USA Yoga held the National Yoga Asana Championship on March 2-4 in New York. During the competition entrants assumed yoga poses in front of a judging panel; in three minutes each participant performed five mandatory poses - standing head-to-knee pose, standing bow-pulling pose, bow pose, rabbit pose, and stretching pose - followed by two of their choice. The poses are meant to exemplify ‘how someone can have perfect strength, balance, flexibility in the body,’ Rajashree Choudhury, founder of USA Yoga, told the Associated Press. The contest focuses on the physical, rather than the meditive aspects, of the sport. And it's not just America where Yoga is competitive, in India yoga competitions are common place and have been for years – Choudhury and her husband Bikram (yes, the same Bikram who founded hot yoga) took part in them while growing up there.


However, some feel that encouraging yoga as a competitive sport de-values what it is fundamentally about. Roseanne Harvey of Montreal, Canada, told the AP, ‘The roots of yoga are based in acceptance and non-violence and compassion toward self and others.’ She said in most classes, ‘what we’re trying to do is encourage students not to compete.’

And it's not just yoga wanting to get in on the Olympic action, the Pole Fitness Association and other pole dancing groups are circulating petitions to have vertical dance, which they compare to gymnastics, included in future games. However, its notorious past is something that could stand in the way of its Olympic bid. While The International Cheer Union has also submitted a request for recognition to the Olympic Committee, and recently received a positive recommendation from the SportAccord Council.


Putting forward a petition to the Olympic Committee isn't a futile bid, Women's Boxing is going to be included at the London 2012 games after successfully persuading the Committee.

We want to know what you think - would you like to see yoga, pole dancing and cheerleading included in the 2016 games?

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