Difference Between Yoga and Sports

Exercising is essential for maintaining physical and mental health. Human beings, in the early years of their existence, were engaged in a plethora of physical activities daily.

However, due to technological innovations, the amount of daily physical activity declined over time. Nevertheless, these days, people are realizing the importance of exercise, and are choosing from a variety of options ranging from yoga to sports.

Yoga vs Sports

The main difference between Yoga and Sports is that Yoga is a set of mental, spiritual and physical practices, while Sports refer to competitive games.

Besides, sports generally focus on physical health, while Yoga is much more than that. It focuses not only on physical well-being, but also on mental and spiritual well-being.

Yoga vs Sports

Yoga is a Sanskrit term that means ‘union’.

It pertains to a collection of certain mental, physical and spiritual practices and disciplines that work towards controlling and calming the mind through the unification of the body, mind, and soul. Its practice promotes the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of a person.

Sports include any form of a competitive game, which has certain rules and regulations. It requires and instills skills and gives pleasure to the participants.

Though certain mind-sports like Chess, Speed Reading, Competitive Programming, etc. are also there, most sports, like Football, Basketball, Hockey, etc. involve physical activity. Indulging in sports improves physical fitness.  

Comparison Table Between Yoga and Sports

Parameters of ComparisonYogaSports
DescriptionYoga refers to an array of mental, physical, and spiritual practices that aim at the unification of the body, mind and soul.Sports refer to any form of competitive activity or game, which have some rules.
NatureYoga is a set of disciplines and practices.Sports are essentially games, regulated by rules.
Aspects In addition to mental and physical aspects, Yoga has certain spiritual and philosophical aspects. Most sports involve physical activity and do not have any spiritual or philosophical aspects.
FocusYoga focuses on self-development. It does not amount to any pleasure to the spectators.Sports are intended towards for pleasure of participants and spectators.
CompetitionYoga does not involve any element of competition.Sports are inherently competitive.
EmphasisYoga is more internal and solitary in nature. It is seen as a journey of, through, and to the ‘self’.Sports are external in orientation. They enhance interpersonal skills and are a collective endeavor.

What is Yoga?

The word Yoga traces its origin to the Sanskrit word ‘yuj’, which means ‘to unite’ or ‘to yoke’.

It refers to certain physical, mental, and spiritual practices that are directed towards uniting the body, mind, and soul. It also aims at unifying the individual and universal consciousness.

It originated in ancient India. First witnessed in the Yoga Sutras of Sage Patanjali, it has a variety of traditions practicing it.

It has six branches: Raja, Karma, Mantra, Bhakti, Jnana, and Hatha yoga; all of them focus on different aspects of mental, physical, and spiritual well-being, which are realizing the self, taking action, enchantment, devotion, knowledge, and physical postures respectively.

Practicing Yoga improves physical fitness by increasing the flexibility of the joints and spine, blood circulation, strengthening internal organs, and reducing illness.

It also benefits mental and spiritual health by increasing concentration, self-discipline, confidence, and promoting a sound mind-body connection.

However, evidently, physical exercise is, but an element of Yoga. Yoga is a set of practices that have certain spiritual and philosophical aspects to them. Yoga does not involve any competition. It is more internal and solitary in orientation.

What are Sports?

Sports refer to any form of a competitive game or contest, which is governed by a set of rules. They are intended towards the enjoyment of participants, and sometimes even the audience.

Sports are varied in terms of the number of contestants that range from individuals competing against each other, e.g. race, to many people simultaneously playing in teams against each other, e.g. football, cricket, etc.

Most sports involve physical athleticism; however, certain mind-sports are also there. Many sports competitions and championships are held worldwide.

Most spectator sports like Football, Cricket, Basketball, etc., are enjoyed by the spectators and form a huge chunk of the entertainment industry.

Engaging in sports helps individuals in improving physical fitness and interpersonal skills. It improves the quality of sleep, functioning of organs, and builds strength and resistance.

Apart from this, it also enhances confidence, determination as well as skills like communication, team building, and leadership in case of team- sports.

Sports are essentially competitive games. They have certain norms to regulate them. They are mainly focused on the physical health of the players and do not have any spiritual or philosophical element.

They are more outward in orientation, in the sense that they develop a person’s external skills, and are a collective endeavor.       

Main Differences Between Yoga and Sports

  1. Yoga refers to a set of mental, physical, and spiritual practices, whereas Sports are competitive games.
  2. In addition to physical and mental benefits, Yoga has certain spiritual and philosophical aspects, which are absent in the case of Sports.
  3. Yoga is intended towards self-development and does not account for any pleasure for the spectators. In contrast, Sports give pleasure to the participants as well as the spectators.
  4. Yoga does not have an element of competition, whereas Sports are innately competitive.
  5. Yoga is inward in orientation and solitary in nature. Sports, on the other hand, are outward in orientation and are mostly a collective venture.
Difference Between Yoga and Sports


In a world full of a growing consciousness about the importance of exercise in improving one’s mental and physical health, people are exploring physical activity from a variety of options.

Yoga and Sports are some of the most preferred options for the purpose. However, though both entail benefits to physical health; they are different in several respects.

Yoga refers to a set of practices, while Sports are competitive games. Sports are mostly centered on physical activity, while Yoga has spiritual and philosophical elements.

Yoga is an inward journey, while Sports are outward and enhance interpersonal skills.  


  1. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2015-17047-001

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