Why I Don't Like Yoga - Erin's Inside Job

Why I Don’t Like Yoga


Yesterday I was having lunch with a friend at Sweetgreen (surprise). We were talking about life, FOOD, and fitness, when the subject of yoga came up. It reminded me that I had wanted to write this post but didn’t write it down and therefore forgot about it. Note to self — write things down.

I was happy to complain about yoga with someone who shared my outlook on it — that yoga is great in and of itself, for others, and not me. There’s a couple reasons why I don’t include yoga in my exercise practice, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized one of those was more than just physical.

I love people who do yoga. I’m horribly generalizing right now, but friends I know who either teach or practice a lot of yoga tend to be calm, relaxed, and generally happy most of the time. Their persona is one I enjoy being around and I’m always inspired to calm the F down in my own life.

I have given yoga more than a fair shot. I used to incorporate it into my running plan for at least a year, doing it on my rest days because yoga never feels like a workout to me. I committed to 30 days of Bikram, mostly because I left drenched in sweat and thought I looked better because all the liquid from my body was now on my clothes. I’ve gone to yoga with family members and attended yoga events. I just can’t do it.

My physical problems with yoga are that I simply don’t find it challenging. Hold up — yes, yoga can be challenging. For me to practice those types, however, I’d have to first put myself through all the regular newbie yoga which I don’t have the patience for. So, for me, I don’t feel like I’ve been challenged when I finish a yoga class. Give me barbells and sprints and pushing myself to the limit and THEN I feel like I’ve worked out.

My mind also goes a million miles a minute. If I’m not training, I’m probably teaching, and if I’m not teaching I’m doing something related to this blog or social media. I’m literally working from the time I get up til the time I go to bed (no lectures please — I already have my breakdown scheduled on the calendar 🙂 ). Sitting in a yoga class for an hour is torture. I’m forced to go through repetitive movements, all while recounting everything I could be working on in my head. It’s like I’m trapped in a room and I can’t get out.

This brings me to the non-physical issue I have with yoga.

Yoga makes me emotionally uncomfortable. I didn’t realize it until I attend the NOW Foods trip earlier this year and had the opportunity to participate in a group fitness class. The workout was high-intensity, which I loved, and was followed by an extended cool-down period. The cool-down period was a mixture of stretching and some yoga moves and took longer than I normally stretch after I work out. In fact, I’m usually rushing to my next appointment and have to run away before the stretching even starts. Whoops.

Lying on the floor and concentrating on my breath was fine for the first minute. I felt happy and energized after kicking butt with dumbbells and movements that got my heart rate up. Pretty soon, however, I started to feel really uncomfortable. I didn’t want to be in the room anymore. I got angry that I was “being forced” to do this part of the workout. Irrationally angry. Then my anger turned to sadness and I felt overcome with the urge to cry and go to sleep. WTF.

Since we only had a couple minutes left and I was with a group of almost complete strangers, I knew crying probably wasn’t the best option at that moment. I was able to avoid the urge, we finished up, and I certainly wasn’t feeling as good as I had immediately following the exercise.

I was caught off guard by the emotions that came up for me during that brief time. It made me realize that although I’m much more in touch with my feelings that I used to be, there’s still more work to be done. I’ve gotten away from journaling, sitting still with myself, and really taking the time to check in and figure out how I’m doing on a daily basis. It’s easy for me to get swept up in day-to-day activities and obligations and yoga forces me to stop. To look at myself. To listen to corny mantras that actually mean things to me if I’m being honest.

I’m still not planning on practicing yoga anytime soon (ha), but it was an important revelation to me. As someone who advocates checking in with yourself and expressing feelings, the disconnect between my words and my actions was pretty clear. It caused me to take a step back and ask myself why I was so avoidant of my feelings at certain times. It caused me to realign.

SO for all you yogis out there — I commend you on your dedication and your willingness to sit still with yourself on a daily basis. You’ve helped me realize that I need to set aside more time to just BE. To feel whatever comes up and spend more time checking in with myself.

Yoga — I still don’t like you, but I respect you. I’m also scared of you a little bit. 🙂

Thanks to Amanda for letting me think out loud.


  • Do you like yoga? What makes you like it?
  • Have you ever had an emotional yoga experience?

50 comments on “Why I Don’t Like Yoga

  1. Yoga doesn’t do this for me but spending time with my Heavenly Father does. Maybe I’ll read something in his word that really speaks to my heart and my soul or I’ll notice something in his creation when i’m out on a walk that I just want to thank him for or it maybe a worship song. I am just so so thankful that Abba Father is there for me at all times, even if I’m not not always there for him.

  2. I am a yoga teacher (current side job) but I definitely understand your view point. When I did my teacher training it was 6 months and I didnt have the time between working full time and fitting in 200 hrs of yoga to do my weight lifting. To put it simply I was on yoga burn out by the end and a little miserable. I learned I cant do JUST yoga. I need weights and I ended up taking 2 months or so off from yoga when I finished! I have been in yoga classes that are just plain boring for me and like you do yoga on my rest day. Now that I have been practicing for a few years I need more advanced and challenging classes to stimulate my mind. I currently teach at a gym and I have found through feedback that my class really likes the basics. I teach for them but ideally in the future I want to teach more intermediate classes so that I can have a little more fun creating and challenging them.
    Alicia @Bridges Through Life recently posted…Fabletics, DoTerra and more: Thinking Out Loud #59My Profile

    1. YTT is intense and props to all that preparation! I’m glad you enjoy it again and I can imagine it can get tough not always teaching to your potential. Hope you get to teach those ones sometime!

  3. You know, I think yoga is great and want to incorporate some of it into my morning or evening routine, but I honestly only LOVE Bikram yoga. It’s super challenging, I find comfort in the regimented nature of the 26 postures (it’s the same routine each time), and I love leaving a sweaty mess! Maybe I need to give it more time, but I’ve never felt comfortable with typical yoga classes. To each her own, right? Regardless of personal preference, we all could stand to vary our routine and find our own meditative exercise, whether it’s yoga, walking in nature, etc.
    Catherine @ A Cup of Catherine recently posted…What Is Your Happy Weight?My Profile

    1. Yeah bikram was the only one I stuck with for awhile but even then i was like I CANT KEEP DOING THESE MOVEMENTS haha

  4. can we form a group for the non-yogis? is there a class called ‘no yoga’? because i’d go to that class. i love the whole stretching thing, breathing thing, and relaxing thing, but i can’t turn to yoga for a workout. physically speaking it hurts my body – i have spinal fusion and downward dog just literally makes me scream with pain. i think that is the opposite of what yoga is supposed to do. also i can’t physically do about half of the poses, mainly i can do the hip openers and stretches. so that’s what i do but on my own, every now and then. my take away from yoga is breathing, i love taking deep breathes. but i’ve tried doing yoga many times and get restless, just like you. i am curious to try yogilates or PiYo since it incorporates other things but straight up yoga is not for me.
    i certainly wish i liked it and/or could do it because there seems to always be a shortage of yoga teachers at my gyms 🙂
    Danielle G. Smith recently posted…WIR sleep less play moreMy Profile

    1. Piyo is so great and I would encourage you Erin as well to take that class! I started taking it a few years ago at my local YMCA and fell in love – it is sweaty, fast paced and doing push-ups and various core moves quickly is awesome feeling!

    2. I feel like there’s so many yoga things here in chicago! I will join your non yogi group haha. I do like Pilates, but yoga jut doesn’t do it for me!

  5. I feel the same with wanting to do weight lifting and running and intense activities because yoga doesn’t feel challenging enough. But that’s exactly why I need to do it – because it forces me to slow down, concentrate and look inwards, even if I feel uncomfortable and don’t like it. I can only gable yoga once or twice a week for this reason! I believe yoga started not as a physical activity but as a way to get the body in a state to go into meditation.
    Bri recently posted…My post-marathon recovery plan and why runners need a post-seasonMy Profile

    1. Yeah, ideally I’d do it for meditation but I think I may do other things in my house and not have it be part of my exercise routine

  6. This is really gracious Erin and honest. I don’t really do yoga, and I’m guessing I might not do it for some of the same reasons. I’m also not really a group exercise class gal; I would do them occasionally, but I like to either work out with one person or by myself. We’re just all different, and I love to hear what people like to do for exercise. 🙂
    Emily recently posted…Apple White Chocolate Caramel Bars + A Giveaway Announcement!My Profile

  7. I have to force myself to do yoga. Like you, I don’t find it to be a challenging workout because I am only in the beginner classes. And hot yoga?! Forget about it! No thank you~! I read Love Warrior recently and Glennon was going through a rough time and went to yoga. She didn’t know she was going to a hot yoga class and she wanted to walk out as soon as she walked in. So she told the teacher her intention was just to sit on the mat and not run out of the room for the whole class. And that is what she did. Also in the book Mile Markers, Kristin writes about trying hot yoga for the first time and I LOL’d and was glad I wasn’t alone on that one.
    Jill @ RunEatSnap recently posted…Thinking Out Loud #4 – Sushi BurritoMy Profile

    1. Ah I have that book and I even have a signed copy but I haven’t read it yet because I know it’s going to be emotional and I have to make sure to get my mind right before I do. Eek!

  8. I don’t like yoga at all. I find it difficult, irritating and not the type of workout I usually am looking for. BUT as I get older, I have noticed that the stretching, flexibility, etc. that I get from yoga does make me feel better.

    So I do it once a week and pretty much force myself through it to stretch out my hips, back and whatever body part is bothering me.
    Molly recently posted…Do you Need to Save your Life?My Profile

    1. There’s a class called “deep stretch” that I am interested in but haven’t been able to fit it into my schedule yet!

  9. I am the same way Erin! I thrive off of high-intensity workouts and find my joy in doing them. Slow paced anything just doesn’t cut it for me and makes me sort of anxious because my mind starts thinking about everything I need to get done . I respect Yogi’s too but I know that some people, like me and you, are just not made for it 🙂
    Rachel @ athletic avocado recently posted…Pumpkin Gingerbread Protein Smoothie Bowl {Paleo + Gluten-free}My Profile

  10. Me too! I want to be one of those super zen yoga people but I just don’t think it’s gonna happen! I’ve given it numerous shots and I just canNOT get into it. I’m glad I’m not the only one. I have the same feelings of racing thoughts and being trapped in a room. Ah well. Running’s not for everyone either and that’s my jam 🙂

  11. I’m not crazy about yoga either. I love stretching and I definitely turn to breathing exercises when I feel myself getting anxious, but to actually get through an entire yoga flow? Not so much. I think my brain just races too much for me to really get into it, and then it just feels more frustrating than relaxing. I like faster paced things, but I also totally get why people enjoy yoga.
    Amanda @ .running with spoons. recently posted…he killed it!! & i want to start juicing (ToL#204)My Profile

  12. I actually LOVE hot yoga-but fully get what you are saying!!
    I will tell you this…there are many teachers out there who say all the right things in class (like let it all go and breathe and this is magic for your body) and they are so full of you know what in real life….does that make sense? I run a bunch–it’s a good stretch–my studio has an hour long class—and I typically go at 530am…so that I can do something like Orange Theory or run on some days to get that awesome feeling of accomplishment. My mind is running a mile an hour during yoga (bad) but that’s just how it’s gonna be!
    Love your honesty–it’s certainly not for everyone!!
    Lauren recently posted…Friday Favorites–But on a Monday!My Profile

    1. Yeah that makes sense. I think that happens a lot in other situations too. People’s words and actions don’t always line up.

  13. I cannot tell you the number of post ideas I have and then promptly forget. I really need to be better at writing things down.

    I’ve mentioned this on the blog before, but that was a loooong time ago. One of the reasons I’ve really struggled in getting back to yoga is because I went a LOT after my divorce. And now it brings back memories of that time and NO THANK YOU PLEASE.
    Ange // Cowgirl Runs recently posted…No, [Insert Exercise Here] Won’t Cure Mental IllnessMy Profile

    1. Yes! I have a running list and if I’m not near it I’ll just put it on my phone.

      And yeah I can see why you might want to steer clear of that for awhile haha.

  14. Oh, man. This is insightful and I relate… despite the fact that I love yoga now and am training to be a teacher.

    I laughed nervously through my first yoga class at the age of 12. I’m a quiet person in general, but I don’t like to just be in quiet places. I’m flexible and at least strong enough to hold up my own body weight, so I’ve never really viewed yoga as a “workout” even though I don’t consider it wrong when people do. I’ve definitely had classes where I got so overwhelmed with the quiet around me and the LOUD LOUD thoughts in my own head that I almost cried. And I’m pretty sure I have cried and am currently blocking it out. Anyway.

    Yoga classes don’t challenge me because of the physical stuff, but the mental stuff, so I see where you’re coming from and totally get not needing that in your life. I mostly kept going because even though sometimes that challenge sucks, it’s a challenge that benefits me more than I realize. Other people have told me I’m a nicer person when I’m doing yoga. (No idea what that says about me the rest of the time, but hey.) Slowing down is not my strong suit, but yoga makes me do it. And also I sleep like a baby afterward 🙂
    Ellen @ My Uncommon Everyday recently posted…Thinking Out Loud #69My Profile

  15. Too funny that we both wrote yoga-centric blog posts in the same day. I’m totally a believer that what works for you doesn’t have to work for me and vice versa. I feel the same way about pilates, I CANNOT stand it for the life of me, but I also won’t tell someone who loves pilates that they shouldn’t do it.

    I think with yoga, and with anything really, you have to *want* to like it and make the effort. It sucks in the beginning and can be hard to get past that point.
    Kayla recently posted…How I Went From Hating Yoga to Yoga TeacherMy Profile

  16. This was such a delight to read. I personally think yoga is for (mostly) everybody, and it truly comes down to finding a style you like. And even then, as the seasons in your life change, so will the style. And our interests. I go through phases where I’m in the studio a few times a week, then I’ll skip it for months. I just lean into whatever I’m craving! Like you, my mind goes a million miles a minute too and that’s the part of yoga that’s really uncomfortable for me.
    Right now I’m into yin yoga and am immersed in a vinyasa/core strengthing program. Anything with deep, long stretches!!

    Sometimes I dabble in Bikram, Moksha and hot vinyasa! 🙂
    Jo @ Living Mint Green recently posted…What I Ate {Yesterday}My Profile

    1. I need to do something w deep long stretches. I’m the worst with that and I think it’s a lot of the reason I get injured!

    2. I have severe poorly controlled chronic pain. I have long legs, a short torso, short arms and very broad shoulders. I physically can’t do yoga. My doctor wanted to send me to a Mindfulness Meditation program. Once she found out that it was a religious program, run by active Therevada Buddhists, she said that she would NEVER EVER recommend this to another patient.

      Moreover, I find that many, if not most yoga enthusiasts have serious mental health problems, are into New Age and other forms of woo (a sure sign of mental illness), are ‘holier than thou and are bullies. In short, I haven’t met a yoga enthusiast who isn’t a butthole. Furthermore, yoga teachers don’t have to demonstrate they have a basic knowledge of injury prevention and exercise physiology or first aid. Those who think yoga is for everybody are not in touch with reality and are in need of professional mental health help from an expert in cognitive-behavioral therapy.

      I know that there are flexibility classes masquerading as yoga classes. These are run by instructors who are certified as group exercise instructors. Their studios don’t have altars to hindu gods and / or goddesses in them. They don’t burn incense. They use English names for the moves. They do not teach ‘reversed’ poses, such as the plow, headstand, handstand or shoulder stand. They don’t teach poses where most of the body weight is born by the hands or wrists, because these moves have been associated with serious and disabling hand and wrist injuries. They don’t teach any pose that hyper extends joints, especially the lower back, such as the straight arm yoga cobra, and all the poses where you balance on your hands. They don’t teach standing head to knee, because that is damaging to the knees. They don’t lead Salutation to the Sun because that contains moves no one should do. They don’t promote alternative medicine / integrative medicine, pot smoking, herbal medicine, ‘energy healing’ such as Reiki or any form of mystical practice. They don’t quote hindu religious / semi-religious texts. They don’t have pictures of gurus on an altar. They don’t lead chants of ‘Om’ or say ‘Namaste. They call their classes ‘yoga’ because if you called it ‘stretching and flexibility’ class, too few people would attend.

  17. Oh that was interesting… I was intrigued to find out why you didn’t like yoga and I have to say that I can relate a little bit to your feelings, although I have come to love yoga especially for the time it gives me to be still and inside my head.
    And I think the instructor makes a huge difference. I love my yoga instructor!! 🙂
    San recently posted…Currently | OctoberMy Profile

  18. Well, I hate any form of organized exercise. I just walk everywhere…that’s my exercise…have not had a car for 10+ years. Plus, my big thing is nutrition, and figuring out which stops I need to push in or pull out to get x result. Vegan (ish) seems to work well, plus a number of supplements…but I digress.
    I have no connection with yoga whatsoever – never have had – too guru-ish for my thinking. I completely fail to understand it. Like so many things in life, I feel as though I am being talked to as if I were in school. I may get round to horseriding, and swordfighting again, once I have more time and money. Now these are two forms of exercise I do enjoy.

  19. I think it’s really strange that there is SO much social (peer) pressure for certain people to do yoga that I’ve had to turn to the internet for support on it. That’s the strangest thing. So many people posting on this stream give this reason, or that reason, why you SHOULD do it. Imagine if people said that about other things like dance classes, or bike riding or skiing (or watching sports or playing a musical instrument)?
    I started working in the fitness industry in the late 80’s when nobody did yoga. I have always been extremely active and athletic. I have also always had a full time job and many other things to do. I am in total agreement with you. I feel trapped in a yoga class (I’ve given it numerous tries). I don’t feel like I’m exercising and it’s too long to stretch. I HATE being on the floor lying down or putting my hands on the floor. I like to be vertical with my shoulders above my hips and my hips above my feet. I don’t see why I should even have to take the time to write this post, but it’s because I’m a woman of a certain group.
    So I like to work out hard. Really, really hard. I like to drink wine and don’t give much thought to what i eat. I’m in my early 50’s and I am so over talking about all these things. I am married, I have pets, I have a busy full-time job (teaching high school) and I’m never going to another yoga class again! high five! (However, I’m heading back to sky zone classes next week).
    My advice to many women out there: just do what makes you feel good and stop listening to all the people telling you what you SHOULD do (unless it’s quitting smoking, you should definitely quit smoking).

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