Woman sitting with a rolled up yoga mat
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How to get the benefits of yoga without doing yoga

We get it: not everyone is into yoga. Of course, when it comes to exercise, it’s always good to keep an open mind. You may assume you’ll hate a particular type of class, but until you give it a go, you can’t know for sure.

However, studies reveal that enjoying exercise is one of the key motivators to make you stick at it. So if you’ve tried yoga and realised it’s just not for you, we won’t be suggesting you force yourself to a Hatha class regardless.

It’s undeniable that practising yoga can bring a whole lot of stress-busting, body-strengthening benefits. The good news is – for the yoga-avoidant – that there are other types of exercise that can give you those same benefits.

When you’re choosing your next exercise class, consider one of these yoga alternatives that can boost your health and, hopefully, your mood.

For flexibility, try Reformer Pilates

People in a David Lloyd Clubs Pilates Reformer class

One of the big benefits of yoga is that regular practice can help improve flexibility, giving you better posture and balance in everyday life, and helping to reduce the risk of injury if you’re doing other workouts or sports.

For well-stretched muscles outside the yoga mat, it’s worth booking a Reformer Pilates class. This is a version of the classic mat-based practice where you use a specially designed machine. It’s a piece of kit that can both support your weight and provide resistance – and that means you can really explore your range of motion. Classes usually include plenty of dynamic stretching.

Don’t worry if you’re new to Pilates in general, or Reformer Pilates in particular. In any beginners’ or taster class, instructors will talk you through both the moves and the machine.

For easing stress and anxiety, try Tai Chi

People in a Tai Chi class

Research into the mental health benefits of yoga suggests it can help ease anxiety and stress by increasing levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a brain chemical linked to improved mood.

However, all types of exercise can reduce stress by increasing endorphin production, so you have a huge range of potential stress-easing options in your mental wellness toolkit if you’re not drawn to yoga!

To narrow it down, consider other practices within the sphere of ‘holistic exercises’ – that is, exercises that specifically let you tend to both body and mind. Take Tai Chi, an ancient Chinese martial arts practice rooted in Daoist and Confucian philosophies. The ‘martial arts’ element may suggest a heart-pumping workout. In fact, Tai Chi is often described as meditation in motion, as you slowly flow between a series of actions.

Yoga classes usually focus on holding poses. If that doesn’t appeal to you, the gentle, continuous movement of Tai Chi may suit you better.

Meditation is another great option for stress reduction. While some yoga classes offer this as part of the practice, you can also find meditation-only classes without the poses.

For building strength, try a conditioning class

People in a conditioning class

One of the many myths about yoga is that’s an easy form of exercise that’s all about stretching. Not true. You can also build some serious full-body strength by practising yoga, depending on which type you choose. And that’s before you even get onto the more advanced balance and inversion poses.

But if you’re keen to build strength in another way, take a look at conditioning classes. This kind of session is a top-to-toe workout that usually combines strength work, cardio and endurance. Some may include props, such as dumbbells or kettlebells, and you’ll find yourself doing multiple repetitions of movements.

If you want to increase your strength in a high-energy setting, conditioning classes should be right up your street.

For cardio health, try a class that reflects your passion

Yoga can elevate your heart rate if you choose the right type – Vinyasa and Ashtanga, for example, will certainly get your pulse pumping. The practice can also help your cardiovascular health by reducing stress.

But if you’re looking for a different kind of cardio fix, you’re spoilt for choice. Our top tip? When you’re choosing a new class, think about things you already like doing. As we’ve discussed, enjoyment is really important when it comes to fitness motivation. Do you find joy in a kitchen disco session? Try Zumba, or another dance fitness class. Enjoy a weekend cycle? Find a group cycling class. Love nothing more than spending time with the kids? Do a family fitness class together – and make it a weekly commitment.

At David Lloyd Clubs, we have a wide range of exercise classes – including yoga, but with plenty of other options too! We also have Signature Classes, exclusively designed for us. Check out our fitness classes to see how we can help you meet all your fitness and well-being goals.

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