New Delhi: The Sports Ministry on Thursday formally recognised yogasana as a competitive sport, which will enable the ancient practice to avail government funding.
Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju and Minister of AYUSH (Ayurveda Yoga and Naturopathy Unani Sidda Homoeopathy) Shripad Yesso Naik formally promoted yogasana as a competitive sport during an event here.
The move was made to encourage yoga, spread awareness about its benefits and to help improve physical and mental wellbeing of the people.
"Yogasana has been a competitive sport for a long time. But it has to be recognised by the Government of India so that it becomes an official and recognised competitive sport," Rijiju said.
"Today is a big day, we are launching it formally as a competitive sport and I am sure it will go a long way," he added.
An International Yogasana Sports Federation was formed under the presidentship of yoga guru Baba Ramdev with DR HR Nagendra as secretary general in November last year.
A National Yogasana Sport Federation of India (NYSFI) was also established for preservation and development of yoga as a competitive sport. It was recognised by the sports ministry as a National Sports Federation (NSF) last month.
Rijiju said the sports ministry will start by providing financial support to the NYSFI so that the federation can chart out its plan for the coming year.
"Till now it wasn't recognised but now that it has come under us, the Sports Ministry will start by providing the NYSF with financial support to make their annual training and calender."
The Sports Minister also said yogasana will be inducted in future Khelo India Games programme.
"It's popularity will not doubt increase in India and we will include it in the Khelo India School and University Games," Rijiju said.
For competitions, 51 medals have been proposed in four events and seven categories in the sport.
Events proposed include traditional yogasana, artistic yogasana (single and pair) , rhythmic yogasana (pair, free flow/group yogasana), individual all round-championship and team championship.
A pilot championship - National Individual Yogasana Sport Championship - has also been proposed to be organised in February next year, followed by district, state, national and World Championships.
The two ministries have also developed an automated scoring system for competitions.
"The reason behind making yoga a competitive sport is to encourage its practice and to help improve the physical and mental wellbeing of the people," Naik said.
"Having yogasana as a part of international event like Olympics etc would provide an opportunity to spread the awareness of Indian yoga and its innumerable health benefits," he added.