How many times have people suggested you try yoga for its health benefits? Yeah, me too! Seemingly everywhere you look, you will find someone contorting themselves into headstands and flexible poses, making it look like a prerequisite for a healthy lifestyle. But, whether you have done the warrior pose too many times or just can’t seem to get down with the downward dog, these 7 Great Alternatives to Yoga will make you feel all flowing and zen in no time.
Sure, there are many windfalls of yoga, but it may not necessarily be everyone’s cup of tea. And that is alright! There are plenty of other sports and exercises that you can turn to acquire the same physical and mental benefits.
Why Try Alternatives to Yoga?
There are many reasons why people may seek out alternatives to yoga. While some might feel uncomfortable practicing yoga because of faith-related reasons, others may have to refrain due to certain medical conditions or chronic injuries.
For other individuals, yoga may not seem exciting or challenging enough or suit their exercise-related needs. For example, those who prefer high-intensity cardio workouts may find yoga too repetitive and slow.
The Benefits of Yoga
You do not need to pour over too much research or scientific studies to know the many benefits of yoga. From acting as a stress reliever to supporting mental wellbeing, yoga can make you feel better from head to toe.
1. Improves Flexibility, Strength, and Balance
The deep breathing and slow, purposeful movements of yoga strengthen muscles. Whilst holding a pose improves flexibility.
2. Eases Arthritis Symptoms
Physicians often refer patients to join a yoga class or do gentle yoga poses to ease the discomfort of swollen, tender joints or hip bursitis.
3. Helps Relieve Back Pain
Sometimes, getting onto all fours can go a long way to easing back pain and improving mobility. Yoga poses like Cat-Cow and Backward Bend can significantly help with lower back pain and are often recommended as a first-line treatment for chronic back pain.
4. Promotes Heart Health
Regular yoga practice can address several factors contributing to heart diseases, such as excess weight and high blood pressure.
7 Great Alternatives to Yoga
Having discussed the benefits and reasons for why people enjoy yoga, it’s now time to shine light on 7 compelling exercise alternatives to yoga, in case yoga is not up your alley.
However, bear in mind that while these exercises can provide great health benefits, these benefits may not always be on the same benefits as yoga.
Often referred to as “the more athletic cousin of yoga,” Pilates is a form of exercise that was invented back in the 1920s. Initially, it was a kind of rehab and physical therapy for soldiers. However, with time it soon developed into one of the most popular ways to keep fit, maintain a strong core, good posture and a healthy spine.
What is so special about Pilates is that, unlike yoga, it is not born from a specific cultural or religious belief, and can therefore be performed by individuals from all communities and walks of life.
Pilates focuses on strengthening the core muscles, even the tiniest (yet often most important) ones. This includes the hips, thighs, abdomen, buttocks, and upper and lower back.
During exercises, students are taught to keep these muscles tight by maintaining difficult positions to achieve a toned body in a surprisingly short time.
The best part? Getting started with Pilates is as simple as rolling out a mat and start grinding. A range of Pilates equipment and beginner exercise programs can assist you in kick-starting your journey.
Personally I love Lindywell Pilates, a fantastic pilates programme that can be done in the convenience of your own home, in as little as 15 mins slots! Have a read of my Lindywell Pilates Review to find out all the ins and outs of this wonderful Pilates program.
At first glance, it may seem hard to equate dance sequence and ballet elements with the tranquilizing effects of yoga, but you should reconsider.
Barre is a low-intensity workout that weaves yoga, Pilates, and dance elements into one exercise. So, it is not only great for improving flexibility and posture but also for boosting mood. And while this yoga alternative might look intimidating to those with no dance background, it is actually pretty accessible and caters to people of all fitness levels.
Start with a warm-up and a sequence of upper-body exercises. This could include planks, push-ups and free weights, then move onto ballet barre. Strengthened muscles and good posture will be the happy result of regular barre sessions.
3. Tai Chi
Tai Chi is a graceful exercise that embraces the mind, body, and spirit. With deep roots in ancient Chinese culture, Tai Chi was initially developed for self-defense. Today, it consists of a series of techniques and movements carried out in a highly systematic and slow manner, coupled with deep, rhythmic breathing.
These stances are designed to improve posture and balance as well as develop muscle strength and flexibility. Like yoga, Tai Chi improves mood, relieves stress, and boosts heart health and the immune system.
The best way to learn and practice this yoga alternative is with an instructor. You can look for classes at local fitness studios or senior centers.
On beginning your Tai Chi journey, it is always a good idea to start slow. Take your time and start with shorter duration and slower movements, and don’t forget to cool down and rest once finished. After all, to have an enjoyable time, ‘slow and steady’ should be your motto.
Qigong is a great alternative to yoga because it’s like yoga in the sense that it’s a form of meditation.
You can focus on your breathing and subconscious while exercising, which helps clear the mind and improve overall wellbeing. Additional benefits of Qigong include improved balance, lower tension, and good cardiovascular health that will leave you feeling energized.
In the words of a friend, the best way to start Qigong is to head over to YouTube and choose a teacher you like. It is really this simple! The social hub is filled with tutorials that you can use to learn the movements and begin regular practice.
Qigong is generally a safe way to calm your mind. Still, there is one thing to note about Qigong practice: anyone with a history of any psychotic disorder should refrain from it.
This contradiction arises because sometimes the Qi (the energy) may flow more strongly within the brain. This may cause unusual sensations that may feed into intrusive thoughts or delusional thinking, making them worse. But again, this is not a blanket restriction but a situation requiring caution and expert supervision.
5. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
By now, you probably would have heard the word HIIT thrown around on your workout app or at the gym. HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training and is essentially any workout that alternates between periods of intense activity and fixed bursts of moderate activity or complete rest.
Doing HIIT workouts comes with many advantages. For starters, it can take just ten to fifteen minutes and is ideal for busy schedules. Squeeze a HIIT routine in during your lunch break, and you are good to go. Additionally, this pumped-up cardio is best for burning fat, building muscles, and increasing endurance and stamina.
Another benefit of HIIT is that people can do it anywhere. While you can enroll in HIIT classes at any nearby institute, doing it in your home gym will also suffice. Start with cycling, sprinting, skipping rope, or any of your preferred forms of exercise. Increase the intensity of the workout and then reduce it for the rest period.
While HIIT, by definition, means to push yourself, make sure you do not put yourself out of commission and miss your next session. Try to finish every exercise with the best form you can.
Going for a run is one of the easiest exercises to do if you are looking at alternatives to yoga. It’s also one of the most effective ways to take care of your mental wellbeing. Running has a wide range of health benefits, including improved cognition, reduced stress and stronger bones.
The best thing is that you can run whenever and wherever you want to, whether on your treadmill at home or a trail in a beautiful forest. All you need is your running shoes, headphones, and a distance tracker app, and you’re ready to break a sweat!
Perhaps you took classes as a child or have admired professional dancers’ rigor and beauty; you will be glad to know that dancing is also considered an excellent form of exercise rather than just a hobby.
It is a fantastic yoga alternative because it is so much fun and does not get boring like those repetitive asanas. It is an enjoyable way to exercise; before you know it, you will be sweating and burning calories.
All you need to do is keep your body moving at all times. There are many dance schools, from salsa, ballet, and tap dancing to contemporary, hip-hop, and even Jazzercise. You can also scroll through online apps or Youtube if you need help figuring out where to start.
Choosing the Right Exercise for You
Whether you plan to exercise for general health benefits or to lose weight, finding an exercise that works for you is essential. Achieving your fitness goals depends on consistency and discipline, so choosing an exercise that you can continue, without seeing it as a burden is important.
Here are a few tips for choosing the right exercise for you.
Consider your Fitness Level
Be realistic about your current fitness level and the intensity you can handle. For example, if you are a beginner, the physical demands of certain exercises, such as running, might be too much at first. In such scenarios, choose a gentler alternative and work your way up.
Keep Your Health Problems in Mind
Having an injury or being unwell does not usually rule out exercise; in fact, it is often a crucial part of recovery. However, exercising in this context may mean that you need to amend the details according to your need or choose a new workout altogether.
Health problems that require exercise accommodation include bone and joint injuries, obesity, heart problems, and age-related issues. So, be sure to consult a doctor or healthcare professional before you take up an activity program that may not be suitable for your health issues.
Try Different Options
To land on the right exercise, there is likely to be some trial and error. So, keep your options open, and don’t shy away from trying something new.
Whatever you are into, there is an activity out there waiting for you. From tennis or running to joining a boxing club, expand your possibilities until you come across something you like.
Final Thoughts: Alternatives to Yoga
Yoga is a highly beneficial practice, but it is not for everyone. Perhaps you find it a little too monotonous, or maybe your religious views do not allow you to practice it. Fret not! In such instances, you can try some of the above-mentioned exercises to yield the same benefits and results.
Once you incorporate one of these workouts into your weekly routine, make sure to perform them dedicatedly and stay consistent. After all, with hard work and dedication, anything is possible.
So, what are you waiting for? Try these 7 alternatives to yoga and you’ll be on your way to achieving your fitness and health goals.
About the Author: Jane Hart
Working crazy hours in a high-stress work environment resulted in my body one day telling me, “Enough is enough!”
Navigating this serious health journey was both mentally and physically exhausting. But through some serious mindset work and instilling healthy habits, I was able to rebuild my life one day at a time and come out stronger on the other side!
Now my mission is to empower women like me to prioritize their fitness and well-being in a healthy, sustainable way and build a community of strong, happy and healthy women!