In a dream world all my friends and family want to go to a yoga class with me, they ask me to teach them classes at home just for fun and we talk about what our experience was like and support each other in our progress of the practice over time (I know if they are reading this they are likely rolling their eyes or laughing!). For me this is nowhere close to reality but to be fair my interest in yoga has never been discouraged by my family or friends it just hasn’t been something most of them have ever expressed interest in beyond asking me, “How was class?” which I never hesitate to respond to in a positive light in hopes they become intrigued. I have accepted the disinterest but it has not completely discouraged me from continuing to get them on board because yoga is special and I know it is not just special for me it can be special for anyone you just have to be interested and receptive.
Now that you know I have first hand experience rest assured the tips that follow have all been tested. Make note each person may become interested for varying reasons use intuition and customize based on these tips for what you think might work best.
Tips to get others interested in yoga
Tip 1- Make Yoga feel familiar. Many people who have limited or no exposure see it as a foreign practice that is inappropriate for them to explore or too convoluted to approach. Hop on a few yoga websites or a local studio website to show them the people who attend are just like us.
Tip 2- Let them know it is as challenging as they are willing to make it. Inherently people like a challenge that is why they chose various work outs or professions. People also like to feel immediate satisfaction and that is where yoga falls short for many but that is also the charm and what makes it a unique challenge. In yoga you are not only working out physically you are working out mentally and those results are a lot less transparent to those around you. The kicker though is that they are transparent to you, you just have to pay attention. Therein lies the problem, it is only a challenge if you make it one. You can skate by in yoga and put your body into the general shape that is being called out and you can check out mentally when you should be checking in but that just robs you of the benefit, the challenge is not doing those things.
Tip 3 – Show them it is fun. Yoga gives you the opportunity to practice humility and be ok with a little bit of laughter at your own expense. To show them this is true test out a balance pose such as tree or eagle, as you wobble giggle and laugh and then when you attend the class they will feel more comfortable with themselves and have a better appreciation for those wobbling around them. It is also important to remind them that a yoga class does not need to be serious. By all means be respectful of those around you and do not disrupt the class but a little lightheartedness even between a group of people that have attended together in my mind is absolutely acceptable.
Tip 4 – Bribe them. It is awful, I understand and I am half joking but unfortunately this can serve as a last-ditch effort option for the serous resisters. Keep this option in your back pocket as needed. What usually works is offering breakfast after a morning class or lunch after a noon class. My husband claims this is the only I do that works on him, hence the inclusion on this tips list. 😊
You got them to attend, now what do you do to make sure they want to come back.
Tips to set others up for success with yoga
Tip 1 – Remind them to listen to their body. You might get lucky and the instructor will remind everyone of this before class but just in case you should remind them before the class gets started. I hear from most people that try yoga once and decide to never do it again that they hurt themselves or were uncomfortably sore afterwards and blame the bendy pretzel moves. That can only happen if you are not listening to your body and that is part of the challenge you accept when you show up. To avoid this share the following info. It is not about the shape you are in, yoga is not about shapes, it is about sensations and noticing them and listening to them. Follow the cues, when you meet resistance from your body stop there and pull back slightly. As you breath you can sink in deeper so long as you don’t feel any pain. I taught a free class to seniors when I first started teaching, I loved the class because so many of them were new to yoga and an open book willing to learn and the progress they made was rewarding however, I did lose one attendee because she was frustrated she couldn’t touch her toes in a seated forward fold and some of the others could. I repeatedly explained she will make progress over time and that is what she should focus on and sat next to her helping her identify her edge, needless to say she explained she was in pain the following day and would not longer be attending. I was saddened that there was potential for an alternative outcome.
Tip 2 – Introduce yourselves to the instructor. This is important so that they know you are new and therefore will give you any relevant info specific to them or their class. They will then also likely keep an eye on you to make sure you have the correct postures. Lastly, it will create a more comforting and personalized experience where they feel safe and likely not be afraid to return.
Tip 3 – Try a beginner’s class or a gentle flow class. Avoid a challenging class for the difficulty of the postures and the potentially faster pace.
If they are concerned about what to bring I think that part is simple, your clothes and gear are not all that important you could survive just with an open mind and water as mats might be available but there are a lot of great resources about what to bring and what to expect from your first class if you want to feel prepared.
Although most of my family and friends have not become devout yogis I do have a few that support me by joining me or attend my classes. Each does so for their own reasons, they like the stretching or the meditation or the or the headstands. I encourage you to learn what and why those around you like to attend yoga and draw upon those experiences to enhance your own or to add to this list of tips.
Have you been able to get your friends and family involved in yoga? What worked for you, did they remain interested? I would love to hear, please feel free to share in the comments.