Beyond Yoga: 12 Engaging Alternatives to Yoga

Last Updated on February 14, 2024 by Lifevif Team and JC Franco

“Do you Yoga?” You have probably been asked this before, and if you don’t do Yoga, you might wonder what you are missing out on. But what if it’s just not for you? 

Yoga is a highly beneficial practice, but it is not for everyone. Perhaps your religious views do not allow you to practice Yoga, or maybe it is just not your cup of tea. This doesn’t mean that you can’t benefit in the same or a similar way from another form of exercise. You might be wondering what can you do instead of Yoga, and I am pleased to tell you that there are actually quite a few alternatives that you can try.

People who seek out alternatives to Yoga might be (or might be not) looking for a form of exercise that is close to Yoga in terms of physical movements/motions, as well as in terms of outcomes.

Yoga is good for several reasons, and most people are familiar with these. Yoga is good for muscle strengthening, toning, improving balance, weight loss, relieving stress, and building confidence. And there are various other exercise types that you can do that will achieve the same results, or at least very similar results. 

I took the time to look into 12 alternatives to yoga and how they can have outcomes or benefits similar to the art. So, if you would like to start a practice or exercise that is similar to Yoga, there are 12 alternatives that many people have recommended online. Read on to learn more about what I discovered about each alternative.

12 alternatives to Yoga (what you can do instead of practicing Yoga):

1. Pietra Fitness 

Pietra Fitness is a firm favorite for many people. This particular practice is sometimes nicknamed “Catholic’s Yoga”. It is a unique style of exercise that has very similar physical motions to Yoga but is not Yoga itself. 

A Pietra Fitness program typically involves combining a physical workout with Christian prayer. It is a Catholic-based program and has the same outcomes as Yoga in terms of muscle building and toning, weight maintenance, stress relief, relaxation, confidence building, and more. If you are looking for a more Christian approach to Yoga, Pietra Fitness is it.

2. Pilates

Pilates is another alternative exercise preferred by those who do not wish to participate in practices that have a religious affiliation or spiritual basis. Pilates is not affiliated with any spirituality at all and is one of the fastest-growing fitness types in many areas across the globe. It was created in the 1920s in Germany by a man called Joseph Pilates. The exercise form was to serve as a type of rehabilitation. 

Pilates was not always a fitness class. In fact, the very first people exposed to Pilates were soldiers returning home from war. Pilates was designed to strengthen muscles and to relieve tension and pain in the body. And it is used for much the same thing today. Pilates has no spiritual background and is a highly effective form of physical exercise – how could you go wrong?

3. Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu

Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu is a form of competitive sport that involves locks, throws, and grappling. It is not gentle and low-impact like Yoga but can offer the same stress-relieving benefits. It is best for those looking for something entirely different for Yoga. 

In terms of other similarities, Jiu-Jitsu is a great way to develop and strengthen muscles and quickly improve fitness levels. If your reason for not doing Yoga is that it’s too slow and timid for you, Jiu-Jitsu is a good option to try.  

4. Tai Chi

If you are not sure that Yoga is for you, but the spirituality or religious aspect does not bother you too much, Tai Chi might be the ideal alternative for you. Tai Chi is based on the spiritual view of Taoist monks. The concept is based on the body and its relationship with chi (energy).  

Much like Yoga, Tai Chi focuses on body, mind, and spirituality. The various movements and stances are designed to improve balance and posture as well as develop flexibility and muscle strength. Practicing Tai Chi also relieves stress, improves mood, reduces pain, and boosts heart health as well as the immune system. 

5. Callanetics

Callanetics is an exercise that is similar to Yoga in that it is low impact, but also highly effective in terms of results. This exercise was created by Callan Pickney in the 1980s and also has no spiritual or religious affiliation. 

If you haven’t heard of Callanetics before, you might be wondering what it is and how it is useful. 

Callanetics involves repetitive exercises that consist of small muscle movements and squeezes. It’s an extremely low impact exercise, but that doesn’t minimize its results. The exercises involved are used to build muscle strength, tone the body, and develop muscle mass. It is a great form of exercise for those who cannot do heavy exercise, or need to heal from an injury.

6. Barre

Barre classes are becoming increasingly popular, especially in big cities. This type of activity is used for toning and sculpting the body as well as burning fat, improving flexibility, and increasing range of motion. 

So, what is Barre in terms of physicality? Barre is actually a hybrid exercise. It combines a variety of elements that stem from ballet, dancing, and Pilates. It even includes some strength training, which can help with building muscle mass and increasing bone density. 

7. Swimming

Swimming is quite different from Yoga in terms of physical exercise, but it can be just as physically beneficial. Swimming is also just as meditative as Yoga. Many people who are looking to meditate find value in swimming laps. Swimming, much like Yoga, also strengthens muscles, builds muscle mass, and improves overall fitness.

8. Qigong

Qigong is very similar to Yoga, except it originates from the Chinese culture and not Hinduism. It is not only a Chinese exercise but also a highly reliable healing technique. Similar to Yoga, it also involves effective breathing techniques, meditation, and controlled body postures and stretches. Much like Yoga, it is an art that is aimed at body and mind as well as spirituality.

9. Parkour

Parkour is an extremely interesting sport/exercise and is quite fun. If you watch someone doing Parkour, it is hard not to be impressed. The sport involves a person moving quickly through an urban area or obstacle course without the use of anything but their own body and the surrounding environment. It is a fast and efficient way of getting from A to B. 

Parkour practitioners must run, climb, and jump to get to where they need to be. This particular exercise is actually based on development training used on military obstacle courses. Parkour develops and strengthens muscles, boosts fitness, reduces stress and anxiety, and greatly improves confidence. 

10. Gyrotonics

Gyrotonics is not physically similar to Yoga, although it does include basic Yoga principles as well as principles of swimming, Tai Chi, and dance. Gyrotonics involves a range of movements that include both rotating and spiraling. For those who want the same energy increase and strength benefits of Yoga, Gyrotonics is a great option. In general, this form of exercise improves core strength, develops balance and coordination, and increases range of motion.

11. Martial Arts (Besides Jiu-Jitsu)

“Martial arts” is a broad term used for various practices and arts that focus on teaching self-defense as well as mental, physical, and spiritual development. Martial arts are deeply rooted in cultural heritage and often spiritual or religious concepts. 

There are many types of martial arts that you can do instead of Yoga. Some options include the likes of Aikido (which emphasizes flowing movement), Karate, Capoeira, or Jiu-Jitsu (which we already mentioned). Capoeira, for instance, is an Afro-Brazilian martial art created in Brazil in the 16th Century. This type of martial art includes the same principles as acrobatics and dance. 

Most martial arts build muscle strength, tone the body, increase fitness levels, boost the immune system, increase energy, and develop confidence. 

12. Climbing

Climbing and Yoga are similar in more ways than you might think possible. For starters, both activities require strategic and controlled breathing. Both climbing and Yoga also focus on mindfulness, awareness, improving flexibility, core strength development, as well as muscle strengthening and toning. Many climbers actually combine their climbing practice with Yoga.

Opt for a Yoga Alternative or up Your Game 

You can, either, make use of any of the above alternative exercises if you want somewhat similar benefits to Yoga, or you can even try combining your Yoga workouts with any of the mentioned activities for added benefits. Whether it is Yoga or an alternative that you opt for, you are making a healthy lifestyle choice. Good luck!

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who share their experiences and knowledge about the "Seven F's of Life".

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco is a New York-based editor for Lifevif. He covers topics like spirituality, philosophy, finance, sports, games, and food. JC earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business with a Marketing Concentration at Mercyhurst University. He is a certified USPTA professional who teaches tennis in the New York City Metropolitan area. He has passed the Level I exam of the CFA program.