Guest blog post written by: Alexander Japit
At its fullest expression, the most difficult Yoga movements can look very similar to other practices such as gymnastics and calisthenics. All these practices utilize many arm balances, difficult body positions, and it seems that advanced practitioners of these disciplines are capable of defying gravity, and it is hard to tell whether someone is doing gymnastics, yoga, or calisthenics sometimes.
Where then, does the difference lie? I believe it lies with the mindset, and while all three of these mindsets have value, I want you to entertain the idea that the yogic mindset is the most valuable force for long-lasting change, internally and externally.
Gymnastics, by definition, is a sport. The idea behind gymnastics is to perform harder movements, more jaw-dropping feats of strength, balance, grace, and other factors based on the athlete’s specialization. A sport involves athletes competing against one another to gain the upper hand and to win their competition, and gymnastics is no different.
Calisthenics is a discipline; a training modality in which the practitioner utilizes movements in various body positions to constantly progress in their strength development. The line between calisthenics and gymnastics is often unclear, but when you utilize calisthenics as a discipline for movement and strength, you do it for your own self-improvement, not to compete or become better than anyone else. In calisthenics, you are competing against yourself, to become incrementally better and always strive for the next level.
Yoga is a practice; it is a practice in which you have your moment on your mat, and you can practice awareness. Therefore, in yoga, your goal is not to compete against your fellow yogis, and there is no necessity to constantly push yourself. In yoga, there is no competition, there is a practice of awareness. Awareness of what is, where you are in the moment, awareness of your mind and your body, and from that awareness, you have clarity and choice, allowing you to make your own decision of where you want to take your practice, in every moment. More importantly, you can simply BE, without judgment and without comparison.
Once you simply BE and obtain clarity of what IS in the present moment, you can take your yoga practice anywhere, and that is perhaps the most powerful thing you could obtain.
Image courtesy of Jen Theodore @unsplash.com