8 Yoga Alternatives With Similar Benefits

yoga alternatives
Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / AndiP

Yoga is a form of exercise that is a workout for your body, spirit and mind, but it may not be for everyone. Here are eight alternatives to yoga with similar benefits.

Yoga is a physical, mental and spiritual practice that traces back over 5000 years to northern India. Practicing yoga has become very popular in recent years, and according to 2021 statistics, 36 million Americans practice yoga regularly. Yoga has the ability to focus and calm the mind, by allowing you to slow down and switch off from everyday life, as well as stretching and strengthening your body. However, yoga might not be for everyone, and there are many alternative exercises with similar benefits. 

Yoga is a spiritual practice and its roots stem from Hinduism. Some people may not want to participate in an exercise that has a religious and spiritual base. Although today yoga is considered more of an exercise programme and mediative practice, some religious faiths may feel uncomfortable practicing yoga. Those with chronic injuries or certain medical conditions may also be put off by yoga, as they may feel that the stretches could set their body back from healing. For some people, yoga may just not seem interesting, or suit their personal needs when it comes to exercise. Those who prefer more intense workouts and high intensity cardio may find yoga too slow or repetitive. 

There are many alternatives to yoga that can bring peace and wellness into your life, as well as improve your physical fitness. 

Who Are Yoga Alternatives For?

Yoga is a spiritual practice and its roots stem from Hinduism. Some people may not want to participate in an exercise that has a religious and spiritual base. Although today yoga is considered more of an exercise programme and mediative practice, some religious faiths may feel uncomfortable practicing yoga. Those with chronic injuries or certain medical conditions may also be put off by yoga, as they may feel that the stretches could set their body back from healing. For some people, yoga may just not seem interesting, or suit their personal needs when it comes to exercise. Those who prefer more intense workouts and high intensity cardio may find yoga too slow or repetitive. 

There are many alternatives to yoga that can bring peace and wellness into your life, as well as improve your physical fitness. 

1. Pilates

Pilates is a great alternative to yoga.
Pilates is a great alternative to yoga.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / shushipu)

Pilates was first introduced by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century. It was created based on the belief that our physical and mental health are deeply connected. Pilates is a rehabilitation exercise that was first invented as a physical therapy and rehab for soldiers. Therefore, it has many of the same healing properties that yoga has.

Pilates a highly effective form of physical exercise and is often referred to as ‘yoga’s more athletic cousin’. Pilates lengthens and strengthens all of the major muscle groups. The same as yoga, it focuses on breathing and meditation in order to improve strength, flexibility, balance and body awareness. A 2018 study found that practising pilates resulted in a statistically larger reduction in depressive and anxiety symptoms, as well as feelings of fatigue and energy. 

Pilates is not affiliated with any spirituality, so it is therefore suitable to those who do not feel comfortable practicing yoga for religious reasons. 

2. Qigong

Qigong has been developed to help coordinate the mind, body and breath.
Qigong has been developed to help coordinate the mind, body and breath.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / office469)

Qigong is a martial arts practices that is like yoga, but originates from Chinese culture and not Hinduism. Similarly to yoga, Qigong is a holistic form of exercise that is aimed at the body and mind, as well as spirituality. For this reason, it has many similar healing properties that yoga has, including practicing effective breathing techniques, meditation and controlled body posture. All of these techniques promote mindfulness based stress reduction

Studies on the benefits of Qigong have found that it has many physical health benefits, including improving bone density, immune function and overall quality of life. 

3. Tai Chi

Tai Chi is an alternative to yoga with similar benefits.
Tai Chi is an alternative to yoga with similar benefits.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / karabulakastan)

Tai Chi is another great yoga alternative with similar benefits. The practice of Tai Chi lies in ancient Chinese culture and is a type of art that embraces the body, mind and spirit. It involves a series of movements that are carried out in a very slow, systemic way, coupled with deep, rhythmic breathing. A 2019 study by Harvard University concluded that Tai Chi can help you maintain strength, flexibility and balance and could be “the perfect activity for the rest of your life.”

If you do not find yoga that appealing, Tai Chi is a great alternative to try. In the same way that yoga focuses on the mind, body and energy, the movements you practice in Tai Chi combine all of these elements in order to improve your posture and balance, as well as to strengthen your muscles. 

4. Body Balance

Body balance focuses on the mind and body in the same way that yoga does.
Body balance focuses on the mind and body in the same way that yoga does.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / mohamed_hassan)

Body balance is a type of yoga-based fitness that focuses on the mind and body, with a particular emphasis on controlled breathing. The exercise incorporates a series of yoga moves as well as elements of Tai Chi and pilates, usually with music playing in the background. Body balance has similar health benefits to yoga including improving your flexibility and increasing your strength while reducing stress levels. A 2021 study on the health effects of pilates, which has a significant role in body balance, shows that it lowers blood pressure, improves back pain and joint mobility, and boosts spine strength. 

5. Ballet

Ballet improves your posture and body strength in a similar way to yoga.
Ballet improves your posture and body strength in a similar way to yoga.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / lynnea)

The idea of going to a ballet class may remind you of your childhood, but ballet is not just for kids. Ballet is a great yoga alternative with similar benefits. Ballet is a form of dancing that has many of the same benefits as yoga. When practicing ballet you focus on physical coordination, grace, posture, strength and poise. Similarly to yoga, ballet also focuses on mental strength in particular due to the focus on coordination that is required when you are learning how to get your feet to skip. 

A 2020 study has found that ballet is especially beneficial for older women, as it has many positive physical and mental health impacts, and in particular helps older women to have a more positive experience with age-related changes. 

6. Aerial Yoga

Aerial yoga is a yoga alternative with similar benefits.
Aerial yoga is a yoga alternative with similar benefits.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / WikimediaImages)

Aerial yoga incorporates traditional yoga poses, pilates and dance with the use of a hammock. A 2016 study by the American Council on Exercise revealed that a 50-minute session of aerial yoga burned an average of 320 calories and had all the cardiovascular benefits of low- to moderate-intensity exercise. 

Much like yoga, aerial yoga will push your body to the limits in terms of flexibility and physical strength. When practicing aerial yoga, you can create artful air routines. Aerial yoga is a mindful exercise, as it requires a lot of focus and discipline. It has many of the same physical benefits to yoga, including improving your strength, flexibility and balance. It can particularly help to relieve back problems, due to the fact that you hang in the air, so there is no tension on your bones. 

7. Cold Water Swimming

Cold water swimming is good for your physical and mental health.
Cold water swimming is good for your physical and mental health.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / Antranias)

Cold water swimming includes swimming in lakes, rivers and the sea, and is an umbrella term for swimming in ice cold water. A 2020 study shows that the health benefits to cold water swimming are numerous, including that is has a positive impact on cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure, as well as boosting your immune system. This is due to the fact that swimming works to strengthen your muscles and build endurance which improves your cardio fitness. 

Cold water swimming also has many benefits for your mental health, such as reducing stress. The practice is also just as meditative as yoga, as it allows you to take time for yourself by making the most of your free time and enjoying being in nature. 

8. Climbing

Climbing focuses on controlled breathing in the same way that yoga does.
Climbing focuses on controlled breathing in the same way that yoga does.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / UserBot)

Whether you are climbing indoors at your local rock climbing centre, or you climb outdoors in nature, rock climbing is a great yoga alternative. Climbing is an excellent form of exercise that improves many aspects of your body and mind in the same way that yoga does. Both climbing and yoga focus on improving flexibility, core muscle strength, as well as muscle toning. Climbing works every muscle in the body in the same way that an all-over yoga routine does. A 2018 study has found that rock climbing has a significantly positive impact on physical fitness, especially amongst young people. 

Both climbing and yoga focus on mindfulness and require strategic and controlled breathing, which can act as a form of meditation as you focus on climbing and forget the stress of everyday life. A 2015 study provided the first evidence that therapeutic bouldering (indoor rock climbing), may offer an effective treatment for depression.

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