Yoga or Gymnastics: What's the Difference?

Bruce Chung
Yoga or Gymnastics: What's the Difference?

At first glance, yoga and gymnastics are not that different from one another. You only need to scroll through your Instagram feed to see that both yogis and gymnasts have posts demonstrating an immense amount of strength and flexibility. At times it can be difficult to make a real distinction between the two.

Yoga or Gymnastics: What's the Difference?

The social media representation of yoga may give the impression that in order to practice yoga, you need to have a particular level of strength and flexibility. The truth is, yoga is open to all body types and age groups, whereas in gymnastics, you need to have a certain body type and fall into a certain age group in order to excel.
Here are a few points that distinguish what sets yoga apart from gymnastics:

Gymnastics requires strength, flexibility, balance, agility, endurance and control.

In yoga, having these traits will help in your physical practice, but they are not an absolute necessity. In fact, we practice yoga to increase strength, flexibility, balance, agility, endurance and control, which helps in the focus of the mind.

Gymnastics is competitive.

Yoga is a practice of letting go of the “ego.” It gives us permission to accept our perceived limitations, and allows us to accept where we are in any given moment — whether that’s Headstand-ing like a boss, or surrendering in Child’s Pose.

Gymnastics is a physical sport that develops all of the muscle groups in the body.

It is true that yoga can also do the same. But according to Patanjali’s eight-fold path, Asana (or physical postures) is only one avenue toward the state of enlightenment, Samadhi.
The main distinction between yoga and gymnastics, is that yoga is also a spiritual practice that helps bring us to a higher consciousness rather than being solely a physical discipline.
Image credit: Mandy Martini