YOGA and sport are often seen in opposition, by nature of the quiet approach in yoga in contrast to the competitiveness of sport. In yoga we talk about practice, whereas in sport emphasis is placed upon training. What is most important however, is the attitude towards the development and the attainment of the individual’s aim.
As a former athlete and runner for France, I was taught to win. When I took up yoga thirty years ago, that drive to push the body to its limits was still in me. It was only after several years into yoga that I understood the difference between training and practice: training is for the future; practice is for the now. Over the years, I have too often observed amongst the sports enthusiasts and end-gaining yoga students alike, a certain degree of aggression and eagerness that unavoidably led them to punishing the body and molesting the soul. The result is a tightness of the joints, a shortening of the muscles and an overall disharmony between the inner self and the outer body.
In any given sport there is a strong element of competition. I have also observed a similar attitude amongst certain yoga students. There is nothing wrong about competition, provided that it is healthy and ethical. But the minute it creates stress and inner aggression, then it loses its noble value.
It is the attitude of mind that makes the difference.
One has to learn to detach from oneself in order to re-integrate oneself with the whole SELF. Winning becomes an achievement instead of a defeat over the opponent. Furthermore, if one measures oneself to oneself, winning does not mean beating oneself into submission, but entering a little space of heaven.
Instead of using one’s body to tame and master a posture and bring the body into submission, one should allow the space between the limbs to create natural movement and body form; in this way an organic action and not a rigid representation of a certain shape can be achieved. Such a space concept does not mean emptiness, but a living element from which the innermost structure of the Self can be expressed.