Why I Hate Yoga (but Need It)

by Helen M. Ryan
Antoinette Campbell yoga on beach

(Photo: Antoinette Campbell, aka Netty. Check out bottom of this post for more.)

I hate yoga.

“Oh God, how much longer is this going to go on?”

Seriously, that’s the question I ask myself every time I do a yoga class. My body is contorted, my brain is bored, and I can’t wait to get out of yoga class (or turn off the online yoga video I’m doing at home on YouTube). I start longing for pumping beats and a distraction

Which is precisely why I need to do more yoga. Weird, right?

I must learn how to quiet my mind. I do it when teaching Spinning classes, when we get to the, uh, quiet the mind part, because I’m the one teaching. The movement on the Spinner bike is constant, rhythmic, hypnotic…and we’re listening to kick-ass tunes. Thanks for the climb, Kongos.

In yoga class, my mind goes like a rabbit on speed, bouncing all around because we’re doing yoga poses and the music kind of sucks. “What’s next, when are we done, I can’t do this pose, what errands do I have to do, what’s due today?” my mind questions.

Breathing in yoga class is not easy or natural either. I’m a spinner. I spin. I remind the class to breathe, so I breathe. Deep, full, long breaths between cues. Natural, yes? But not in yoga. The breathing in and out pattern doesn’t jive either with how we work as trainers. Sometimes, it’s the opposite of what we do at the gym.

I’m also as stiff as a board. Half the time in class I’m like, “yeah, no. This body doesn’t move that way." Argh. Which is another good reason to do yoga.

The main reason I need to do yoga is that it’s not simple for me. It’s not comfortable. Triangle is the worst. 

We all turn to things that are easy for us—what comes naturally—that doesn’t require too much thinking or work on our part. Of course, spinning classes are hard, but my body can do them in its sleep. Which is why I need to do more yoga, even though I hate yoga. Confused? Yeah, me too!

Aside from the actual benefits of yoga—like greater flexibility, better balance, deep breathing, inner peace, and strength—I need to do more yoga precisely because it’s not second nature. It makes my mind think. It pulls my body out of “automatic” mode. Forces me to learn to focus on movement and breathing. Throws my body some curve balls.

The only way our bodies change is to challenge them. To get out of our comfort zones and do new things…change things up. Move differently. Make our muscles ask questions (“Why, oh why, are we doing this?).

Are you up for the challenge?

(PHOTOS: The photos are not of me. I wish! It's my friend Antoinette Campbell, aka Netty. She's a yoga (and fitness) teacher, and I call her our 'Goddess' at the gym where we both teach. Follow Netty on her Instagram.)

Published October 20, 2018