As much as I love what they're doing in gymnastics... please don't mistake it for yoga!
It's easy to mistake western yoga for gymnastics sometimes. At some studios it's all about the physical. Some celebrity yogis speak the yoga chat and only show lovely gym-like asana. Some studios call their yoga 'no nonsense' yoga... which is actually very insulting because the 'nonsense' is actually the philosophy and what it's all about.*
*granted people call it nonsense because I think it is often presented in a very flowery way which puts people off.
Asana is just an eighth of it
Asana is the word for the physical postures in yoga. But! In patanjali's Yoga Sutras, which will likely be the text that most of your teachers base their teaching on, asana is just one of the 8 limbs of yoga.
The other limbs are just as important... yamas (abstinence) and niyamas (observance) (which I think of like the 10 commandments), asana, pranayama (breath control), pratyahara (sense withdrawal), dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (bliss!)
Just a means to an end not an end in itself.
Asana is just a steady comfortable posture
And I quote:
Sthira Sukham asanam
"Asana is a steady, comfortable posture"
So we are just trying to set up our selves for samadhi (bliss) by getting into a place of comfort and steadiness.
Now I've often had difficulty with this! Some of the poses I've done in yoga are FAR from steady and comfortable!! So what is with that?
Well I think that in Hatha yoga (the physical pathway to Samadhi) the poses are to prepare the body in a normal sort of physical exercising way. And if you prepare yourself enough so that you actually are comfy and steady in some of those challenging poses, you will have to draw on the concentration and the other limbs of yoga lots on the way. Equally if you want to sit and meditate instead, or self study as your pathway that is fine too.
Gym is about 'pushing harder faster better stronger'
A quote from the wonderful Matt Baker from the Olympics commentary. If that is Gymnastics (and it's all very well) that is so not yoga!!!
It's so difficult this concept. Surrendering the goal, enjoying the journey, having no greed. But a yogic concept it is and very alien to the wonderful postures and physical feats in the olympic gymnastics!
So that's how it's different.
Sure, I'm envious and I un-yogically really want to be able to do the handstands that those gymnasts can do so well! But really that's not what Yoga Quota is here for.