CHENNAI: Yoga is the in thing. After International Yoga Day and yoga in school curriculum, this ancient fitness exercise is now a ‘sport’. Don’t be surprised if it features at next year’s National Games in Goa and who knows, even at the Asian Games or beyond!
In an interesting move, the Sports Ministry has not only recognised yoga as a sporting discipline, but even included it on the elite ‘priority’ list. The hitherto nondescript Yoga Federation of India (YFI) has suddenly gained importance and is in the process of being treated as other bodies running popular disciplines like shooting, wrestling, boxing, tennis, badminton, athletics etc.
This has apparently been done following instructions from the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT). Though yoga came under the Department of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH), it is learnt that the ministry didn’t think much before granting it ‘sport’ status.
This means that the almost forgotten YFI will get recognition with much-needed funding to popularise the game. Eventually, this may also help yoga athletes get jobs.
“If gymnastics is a sport, why not yoga?” quipped a joyous YFI secretary general Ashok Kumar Aggarwal, who said this will help the sport grow.
“Winners in national and zonal championships will get grace marks. With the ministry including it as a sport, yoga practitioners will benefit as they will become eligible for jobs under sports quota.”
With this recognition from the government, Aggarwal felt it was a matter of time before the Indian Olympic Association grants it recognition.
“We are eying an Olympic entry in the near future. We have asked the national federations to liaise with their respective Olympic associations to push for the inclusion of yoga in the Olympics.”