Yoga is not a sport!

In the past ten years yoga in Croatia has grown from relatively small communities, very often with an oriental feel to them, to a popular practice and a part of a life style for many. Yoga came to us and developed in all its splendour and diversity.

Today, it is difficult to count all the different lineages, styles, teachers and students of yoga. The sheer size and visibility of the discipline in our country makes us all happy, however it also openes new questions. Like - what is yoga? Not in a philosophical sense, but more specifically – how should it be classified? Is yoga sport, a spiritual practice, philosophy, preventive therapy, anti-stress therapy or all of the above?

We believe that the answer to this question cannot be given by one person or, for example, a Croatian Olympic Committee which has made its attempt. The answer cannot be given by any institution which could classify yoga under one (their own) discipline.
The answer to this question has already been given many centuries ago by yogic sages, and if their definition should have to be explained to any Ministry in any country, it should be done so by no other than the widest possible body of experts meaning yogis - communities and associations of yoga teachers, people that teach and practice yoga. Understading this need we have joined together to create a Croatian Yoga Alliance and issued the the following declaration of yoga:

Yoga is an ancient knowledge of the spiritual Self, it isn’t only a physical discipline. Yoga does not have the characteristics of competitive or recreational sports. It contributes to human ingenuity and supports a person in all areas of life. Positive effects have been confirmed by a number of psychological, physiological, sociological and ecological research.

The definition of yoga, as explained in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali which are considered to be t
he greatest classical text from the yoga school of Indian philosophy is: ‘’Yoga is the stilling of the changing states of the mind’’(YS 1.2). It further explains: "When that is accomplished the seer abides in its own true nature’’(1.3). This means that yoga serves self-realization.

Yoga system includes various meditation techniques and with time many techniques for controlling the breath and the body have developed. Yoga was developed in India and it therefore uses traditional Indian terminology. However, yoga is a method and its techniques are universal and well-adjusted to any cultural, religious, national and traditional characteristics of any country or tradition. Yoga means unity and it can unite diversity. Therefore, yoga can be successfully applied anywhere in the world.

Very important yogic disciplines are also: dhyana (meditation), pranayama (breathing exercises), dharana (concentration). The branches of yoga consist of Hatha yoga, which refers to the practice of asanas (positions), pranayama (breathing), kriya (cleansing technique), etc.. but as well of Karma yoga (the path of selflessness), Bhakti Yoga (the path of devotion) and Jnana yoga (yoga of knowledge).

We therefore conclude that the ancient knowledge of yoga is a multi-disciplinary science and cannot be characterized in only one way. We, as the Croatian Yoga Alliance, a community of practicioners and experts in the field of yoga and related sciences, believe that yoga is anything but sports.

If you agree with the above and would like to help us protect the dignity of this ancient discipline, please sign our petition.

Thank you. 


Croatian Yoga Alliance 

Hrvatski savez za yogu    Contact the author of the petition