Have you ever wondered if yoga is a sport? Don’t worry, it’s a common question!
Adults can be sporty too!
Sports: you played them when you were a kid, you like to kick back and watch them on TV, and you stay in the loop about them with your handy ESPN app. You might even be a serious sports fan, whether that means holding season tickets for your favorite professional team or being the number-one carpool for your kiddo’s youth leagues.
But it’s tough to find a way for sports to play a more active role in your adult life… no matter how athletic you are! Unless you happen to be a pro athlete yourself or have stumbled upon an awesome adult rec league, you’ve probably struggled to stay sporty as a grown-up. There just aren’t that many opportunities for adults to get involved in sports, not to mention the fact that we grown-ups are more prone to injuries from contact sports. (Don’t hate the messenger for speaking the truth.)
Maybe the trick to staying involved in sports in the long run is to change up your understanding of what makes something a sport! For instance, have you ever considered yoga as a sport?
Take a minute. Think about it. Did I just blow your mind?
Try yoga at home!
No sports equipment needed 😉
Is Yoga a Sport?
You’re probably not used to hearing yoga described as a sport. But let’s break it down. What makes something a sport, anyway?
Dictionary.com defines a sport as “an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature.” That’s a good starting point! Now, let’s take it a step further.
There are a few things that pretty much all sports have in common…
- Some element of physical training is incorporated – this offers opportunities to build strength, endurance, aerobic capacity, and overall fitness.
- Participants are encouraged to push themselves mentally in order to be at the top of their game.
- Competition, baby! In team sports, you’re up against other teams, while in individual sports, you’re simply trying to improve your personal best with each performance.
- Sports are meant to be fun!
- While engaging in sports, you have the chance to connect with other people who share an interest in your sport of choice.
So far, yoga is meeting all of those requirements.
If your personal understanding of sports requires more physical contact — like what you see in football, basketball, baseball, soccer, etc. — then you might be struggling to wrap your head around yoga as a sport. Keep in mind, though, that you’re mostly thinking about contact or team sports. There are plenty of individual activities that are widely considered sports!
Consider fencing, martial arts, ice skating, skiing, gymnastics, and wrestling, just to name a few. All of these sports are performed on an individual basis, and athletes compete at very high levels to be the best at them. And they don’t all involve physical contact.
How Yoga is a Sport
As far as I can tell, there are really only two points that set yoga apart from other contact-free individual sports out there…
- Yoga isn’t designed to be competitive. Unlike other individual sports, yoga is not performed in a competitive way, and there are no governing bodies to set up those kinds of competitions. Competitive yogas may feel motivated to compete against themselves, pushing their bodies to get stronger, fitter, and more flexible with each practice.
- Yoga is not as rough as most of the sports you’re familiar with. Contact sports are quite literally designed to put athletes in close proximity to each other, using their physical strength to best their opponents. And many individual sports — like gymnastics and ice skating — are so physically intense that they can set athletes up for serious injury even if they’re not pushing each other around.
But here’s the thing… as an adult looking for a sport to participate in, do you really want to feel the pressure of intense competition with others or the worry that comes with the physical threat of a contact sport? It might sound exciting, but get real — it’s not actually that appealing.
Yeah. I’ll take a pass on the high-stakes competition and the roughness of other sports. I’d prefer to reap the benefits of participating in a sport without those stresses, thank you very much!
As far as I can tell, yoga is most definitely a sport… and a sport that you can practice for your entire life.
Power Yoga as a Sport
There are different varieties of yoga — and in terms of athletics, not all varieties are created equal.
Here are a few types of yoga that are bound to be less sporty:
- Hatha yoga: According to Verywell Fit, hatha yoga is the umbrella term for the type of activity that probably comes to mind when you first hear the word “yoga.” There are different subsets of hatha yoga (more on that below!), but generally speaking, Hatha yoga involves breath, body, mind, breathing, and meditation and offers a mix of physical and mental benefits.
- Integral yoga: A version of hatha, integral yoga classes often include breathing exercises, chanting, and meditation.
- Kripalu yoga: This is an especially gentle variety of hatha yoga. In a hatha yoga class, yogis are prompted to observe their thoughts and to pursue spiritual transformation.
People love chiller yoga classes — we even offer gentle classes and meditation classes in our bulldog online class library — but you’re not going to feel like you’re playing a sport when you take one. If you want to participate in yoga as a sport, power yoga is going to be the way to go for you.
Power yoga is the most athletic type of yoga because it focuses less on individual yoga poses and more on the movement from one pose to the next. It’s a more intense class!
Benefits of Power Yoga
- Since it focuses on flowing between poses, it requires you to keep your body moving, just like workouts for other sports.
- Power yoga is a bodyweight exercise, because in a power yoga class, you need to hold the weight of your body in various positions. This will help you build strength and endurance over time. According to Parade, yoga is one of the best exercises to build a strong core.
- Like other sports, power yoga offers a fantastic cardio workout. When you get on the mat to take a power yoga class, your heart rate increases and you breathe more deeply, which makes it cardio exercise. According to the Cleveland Clinic, cardio exercise increases blood flow, prevents many serious health conditions, boosts mood, burns calories, and supports weight management efforts.
- Power yoga builds endurance. When you commit to practicing yoga over time, you’ll find yourself repeating certain flows and positions from one class to the next. The more you practice, the stronger you’ll be. As you continue in your yoga journey, you’ll feel fitter and more able to exceed your personal best.
How to Take Advantage of Yoga as a Sport
Still not totally sure how to integrate yoga in your life so that it feels sporty?
Consider these tips for enjoying power yoga as a sport:
Gather Your Team
The best thing about putting together a yoga team is that there are no try-outs required. We choose everyone for our bulldog yoga team! Per Men’sHealth, the toughest step is the first one but also the most rewarding!
If you want to experience yoga in a way that takes you back to your sporty days, maybe you just need to assemble your dream team. Ask a few friends or family members to commit to a yoga practice with you. Thanks to bulldog online, they can join you no matter where they live. Your team will push you to be your best and help your body get stronger.
Commit to Consistency
Like any other sport, yoga requires a real commitment. Yoga can absolutely get you in shape, but you have to be willing to show up on a regular basis. Make the commitment to yourself to take a certain number of classes per week.
A custom workout plan might also help you stay consistent with yoga as a sport. Our workout plans are designed to help you reach specific wellness goals and will give you the class line-up you need to get there.
Know When to Rest
Every serious athlete knows the importance of taking time off. After all, if you push yourself too hard, you could find yourself stuck with a sports injury. While yoga causes less injuries than other sports, it’s not totally injury-proof. Overdoing it with any kind of movement is a surefire way to get hurt.
The best rule of thumb when it comes to avoiding injury? Listen to your body! If you’re in pain and are worried that you’re pushing too hard, you probably are. Take a day off so you can return to the game stronger than ever after a day or two.
Establish Your Goals
In yoga, you’re not competing against another team. You’re competing against yourself! It will be easier to know if you’re winning that competition if you have some wellness goals to measure yourself against. Even better, yoga is the one sport you can do throughout all stages of your life. WIN!
Are you trying to gain lean muscle? Become more flexible? Increase your stamina for other aerobic activities? Manage your weight? Have fun with movement? Whatever your goal is, write it down! When you’ve achieved it, you’ll have beat the yoga game… at least until you set a new goal.
Grab your team and get your bulldog on!
Yo-gonna love it ❤