Yoga has had a such a positive impact on my health and mental well-being that I’m an enthusiastic advocate of the practice. Give me a willing listener, and I’ll gladly share my story of how yoga has helped me. While I’ve converted by husband into a fellow yogi, it has been difficult to convince other adult family members to give it a try.
There are many pre-conceived notions of yoga. Ask a non-practitioner what they think of when it comes to yoga and they may describe a yogi, deep in a meditative state floating across mountain tops. Others may instead immediately associate the practice with the bendy photos of yogis striking poses on social media. Both images can be equally intimidating and off-putting for someone who feels their life is worlds removed from what they see as the practice of yoga.
While some yogis can be intensely focused on mediation and spirituality or flexibility and athleticism –the practice of yoga needn’t be, and can be very accommodating to individuals of varying abilities and at different stages in life.
As I’m keen to share a part of my life that has benefited me greatly with those I care about, I’ve been eager to understand new ways of opening their minds to the practice.
4 Ways to Get Your Family into Yoga
Here’s some suggested approaches that are worth a try –
- Show rather than tell
Going straight into all the benefits and evangelizing about yoga will often overwhelm people. Instead, you can start slow. When my family has asked how I am, I try to drop subtle hints about why I feel like I do – whether it’s feeling refreshed, more active, or more calm, it’s been easy to link this back to yoga.
The goal here is to incite curiosity. Showing them the benefits of yoga, rather than telling them to do it.
- Baby steps
It can be daunting to attend a yoga class as a newbie. All the cues in a yoga class can be overwhelming when you don’t know the movements. I’ve had friends –not used to taking direct instruction –feel pressured in class and cry.
You can help them gain comfort and confidence by practicing some initial poses together. When my husband first started yoga we kept this really simple – working through well-known poses such as downward dog. Having this basic knowledge in a safe space made him more comfortable when joining an actual class.
- Breathing exercises
Classes and postures may still be a bit too much at the start. Instead, you can start with breathing exercises – who can say no to breathing?
Helping them to gain control of their breath is already a benefit. For these, they can start with a simple easy exercise –sitting in any comfortable position, closing their eyes, and breathing to counts of 5 breaths in, 5 breaths out.
- Address their concerns
If subtle hints aren’t drawing curiosity and your family won’t engage, there’s often a reason for this and some probing questions might be necessary. Some common concerns are around fitness – that they’re not flexible or fit enough. This often goes back to the preconceived notions of yogis from social media.
Once you get a sense of where the hesitancy may be, try to speak to their concerns and relate yoga benefits back to their situation and how it can specifically help them –whether it be physical like fixing a stiff back or mental like destressing the mind.
Although it can be a challenge to convince your family to first try yoga, the rewards that they’ll get are well worth it!