What To Do If You Really, Really Hate Yoga

So, you hate yoga, huh?

Well, you’re not alone.

Despite its many physical, mental and emotional benefits, like increased flexibility, serenity and measurable health improvements many find yoga to be a practice akin to a root canal or maybe Chinese water torture. 

Maybe you’ve tried it once or twice, but you found it too boring, difficult, awkward, or just “meh”.

Maybe you actually hate yoga.

Some yoga instructors even admit to hating yoga when they first tried it, so maybe there is hope. With all the benefits of yoga, it can’t hurt to look a little deeper.

Many people who’ve tried yoga hate it because they find it boring and too spiritual — or on the other hand, they may be intimidated by the difficult poses and feel like they’re not flexible enough for the workouts!

If you hate yoga, make sure you try lots of different teachers and different types of yoga to find the right fit. If you still don’t love it, consider an alternative like Tai Chi, Pilates, Barre, or even just walking.

Let’s dive in a little deeper.

Why Do People Hate Yoga?

People who hate or dread doing yoga come in all ages and from all walks of life, but despite the differences in these individuals, their reasons are pretty consistently the same.

If one of these resonates with you, there are plenty of tips and alternatives for you to reap the benefits of this centuries-old practice.

1. Yoga Is Boring

Emmy Ga, currently a yoga teacher with Celebrate Again Yoga, admittedly “hated it” when she first tried a class.

As a very physically-active dancer, Emmy was accustomed to lots of movement and music and “got bored really fast”.

If you’re used to an active lifestyle and busy workouts, yoga can seem very boring at first, but there are ways around that. 

Julia Grässer, of Warrior Princess Yoga, believes “…there is a yoga for everyone”.

2. Yoga Is Too Spiritual

“If you really don’t like slowing down and don’t want to step into deep spiritual, emotional work on yourself, [yoga] may not be your cup of tea, and that’s okay”, says Emma Ga. 

Rosa Santana, an online yoga instructor, recognizes that there are a lot of “touchy-feely-flowery yoga teachers that only appeal to a certain crowd.”

And although spirituality is a key component of the practice, yoga doesn’t have to be about spirituality. 

3. Yoga Is Too Physical and Not Spiritual Enough

While some seem to find yoga too spiritual, others say it’s not spiritual enough.

A common complaint of those looking for a more spiritual aspect is that it feels too much like a workout and not enough like a spiritual experience. 

Of course, there are a lot of yoga and teaching styles, so there may be a balance you would like that you just haven’t found.

Consider Kundalini or Yin yoga classes.

4. Yoga Requires Too Much Flexibility & Is Not Compatible with Physical Limitations

Rosa Santana (who also hated her first experiences with yoga) noticed that “Stiff people always hate yoga, because the teacher may be a bendy, stretchy 20 year-old former dancer or gymnast who doesn’t understand right hamstrings”. 

Someone with limited flexibility could feel alienated in a yoga class where the instructor is made of elastic!

Even though yoga is generally considered low-impact, it can include complex positions that can be intimidating, physically demanding and difficult – enough to be a real turn-off for anyone with even minor physical limitations.

5. You Don’t Know the Basics

Yoga can be downright terrifying for a beginner without knowing a few basics, even if they’re the most flexible person in the world.

Many yoga poses challenge even the most physically fit.

It’s not just the basics of learning new poses, though. As Amy Sullivan, of Aspire Zen, notes:

“Yoga is a practice, and it involves learning new positions, breath techniques, even getting acquainted with your body in a different way. That can feel awkward and not very zen.”

Tips to Find More Yoga Motivation

Finding yoga motivation comes down to tackling the reason(s) you hate it.

Try out some of these suggestions to break through those anti-yoga barriers and find your yoga motivation.

1. If You Find Yoga Too Boring

Maybe you tried a yoga class and found it boring or maybe just your concept of the practice elicits images of meditating yogis holding statue-like poses for hours.

Either way, you probably aren’t thinking of the many styles of active yoga practices.

Consider trying a power yoga class like Ashtanga, Vinyasa or Jiramuki.

If you really want an intense challenge, try Bikram, or “hot yoga”.

These types of classes are sure to cure your yoga boredom!

2. If Yoga Is Too Spiritual

Not all yoga is spiritual. It depends on the teacher you’re with.

Some teachers will sit and meditate for a while, some like to get in touch with their inner child, emotions or higher self.

Other teachers just get straight to stretching and working out. 

Amy Sullivan has a rule that people should try something “at least three times”.

With yoga, it’s common to have “an unfortunate first experience”, she notes. 

So, try different teachers.

You’ll find some that are focused on spirituality and others that are focused on the physical aspect of yoga.

3. If Yoga Is Too Physical/Not Spiritual Enough

If you really like the spiritual and meditative aspects of yoga, but you could do without an intense workout, there are plenty of options. 

Again, it comes down to the type of yoga and the instructor.

As Rosa Santana put it, “the problem is not the yoga. The problem is finding the right yoga teacher who fits your needs.”

Try classes that focus heavily on spirituality, breathwork, and relaxation, like Hatha, Yin or Kundalini.

4. If Yoga Requires Too Much Flexibility or Is Not Compatible With Physical Limitations

This one is easy to fix!

First of all, flexibility can be improved over time and with amazing benefits to bones and joints. 

Yoga instructors are trained in modifications.

Ask the instructor for modified poses if you are not yet flexible enough to do a pose full out.

You can also achieve great results by doing non-traditional forms of yoga. You don’t have to sit in the lotus position on the floor or stretch your body into all manner of contortions. 

Amy Sullivan suggests doing chair yoga (here’s a great beginner video) or more gentle yoga if you’re having issues with regular yoga.

5. You Don’t Know the Basics

It’s a good idea to become familiar with a few foundational yoga postures and concepts before jumping into a class where everyone else seems to know what they’re doing.

Brett Dunley, personal trainer with fitnesslab.fit, believes “Learning the basics and having a general understanding of the basic yoga moves can also help a great deal”. 

Brett recommends trying an online class to help prepare you for a group setting.

There are also tons of free videos online to help you get acquainted with basic yoga techniques and practices.

Top Alternatives to Yoga

Still convinced you hate yoga and it’s not for you?

No worries, there are alternative practices and workouts that can yield very similar results.

1. Meditation and Stress Management Activities

If you want the mental, emotional and spiritual benefits but still hate yoga, try other meditation practices.

Meditation is a great way to relax and connect with your inner self. 

Don’t know how to meditate? There are lots of guided meditations on YouTube, Spotify and Gaia.

If you need a little more help managing stress, Amy Sullivan recommends:

  • Working with a therapist or coach
  • Writing it out
  • Taking a stress management workshop
  • Kickboxing

2. Pilates

Pilates is an excellent alternative to yoga.

Pilates has many of the same benefits as yoga, like improving flexibility and balance, but it also focuses on toning your muscles.

Pilates is low-impact, but you can find high- or low-intensity classes.

3. Walking

Amy Sullivan recommends walking for stress relief and exercise.

Walking is a surprisingly effective exercise, and it’s low-impact.

Going on long walks also lets you spend time alone, connect with yourself and de-stress.

If you aren’t looking for that whole “inner connection” thing, put on some music, listen to a podcast, or walk with a friend.

4. Barre

Barre is excellent for people who love the stretching and flexibility aspects of yoga, but it also incorporates classical ballet exercises and static stretches. 

Barre classes are an inspiring mix of ballet, yoga, and pilates and involve plenty of strength training.

(While we’re at it, here’s what to do if you hate stretching.)

5. Tai Chi

Tai Chi is a self-paced system of movement and stretching that focuses on your mind as much as your body.

The discipline helps develop strength, flexibility, and balance as well as enhance mood and promote relaxation.

Read more about Tai Chi vs Yoga here.

6. Callanetics

Callanetics is a form of strength training that involves using large muscle groups and no deep-breathing meditation.

It’s great for those who want to sweat and build muscle but have no use for finding deep meaning in their workouts.

The exercises are generally repetitive and can be both high- and low-impact.

7. Swimming

Swimming is low-impact, can be low- or high-intensity and is fantastic for your physical health overall.

It’s also great for people who want to practice meditation and mindfulness.

Swimming laps alone in a quiet pool gives you time to think, work on your breathing, and focus on yourself.

8. Jiu-Jitsu

If yoga is never going to be your thing, and you haven’t read anything above that piques your interest, then a martial art like Jiu-Jitsu might tickle your fancy.

Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art and combat sport.

It can be high impact, but it’s comparable to yoga in terms of stress-relieving benefits.

It can be pretty stress relieving to take out your frustrations in the form of combat.

Wrapping Up

Yoga may not appeal to everyone, but if you can find a way to enjoy it, there are many benefits you will reap as a result.

If you really wish you could stop hating yoga, there are lots of ways to motivate yourself to give it a shot:

  • find a teacher that fits your style
  • start off small with online classes
  • and experiment with different types of yoga that are more directed toward your goals.

Not everyone clicks with a new activity from the get-go. Give it a few tries.

If yoga will never be your thing, that’s fine too. There are plenty of alternatives to explore, whether you want to focus on spirituality, physical fitness or both.

Try out different activities until you find your fitness jam and then rock it.

For more, check out:

Hope this helps!