“I’m not flexible enough.”
“I am not fit enough.”
“I’ll look silly.”
These are just some of the excuses my flat mate threw my way when I tried to convince her to give yoga a go.
All the standard go-to responses we have heard before. She was very used to seeing me bend and contour my body into shapes and poses that she described as “Alien S***.” Saying she was skeptical would be an understatement.
Image source: Bookshelf Battle
In reality, her hesitations came from her perceptions of yoga that are so commonly seen in the media. A cult of meditating hippies listening to Enya while they breathe through life’s problems and bending their bodies into pretzels. This has never been my idea of yoga by the way, and I can’t stand Enya. Just stop, please.
So my mission became to find a way that I could get this lady downward dogging in a way that she felt comfortable (cue a Drake themed class at a Hip Hop yoga studio, aptly titled, NamasDrake. YAAASSSS!).
I gave it a try and it completely abolished her perceptions of yoga. She was much more open minded with the thought of this Canadian rapper soulfully comforting her through the class. We got sweaty, we got bendy, we rapped away to Drizzy, and we got her feeling like she had achieved a goal that she felt was once unattainable. Mission accomplished.
The benefits of yoga have been pretty fundamental in changing my mindset, my strength and flexibility, and my ability to practice mindfulness, as well as recovering from strength and HIIT training. I am a self-taught yogi who used YouTube videos to nail my backward bends and Pigeon poses, but that’s just the thing about yoga; no matter where you are, who you are or what form you practice, it’s all relevant. This is what made me so eager to promote it to her. She had been through some pretty rough times with some medical issues and I thought she could benefit from a change of lifestyle. She was also looking to get back into fitness, so at one point it made sense for her.
So how do you adapt this technique to get yoga skeptics involved? Ease them into it and find a style that works for them, starting with simple poses. So, not like the pictures from advanced Instagram yoga personalities. And don’t take them to some underground yoga festival where you know those Enya lovers are going to be with their Birkenstocks and their Jasmine tea; this is setting yourself up for failure.
It might be Yin for the strength lovers; or Flow for the softer and calmer folk; or perhaps it’s cardio yoga for those who think Yoga isn’t a proper work out (good luck with that one buddy). Whatever you think will make them click with yoga, give it a go!
Yoga is pretty up there in the “intimidating activities” list for most people, so let’s start out with the basic yoga poses and progress from there. Start with low lunges, downward dogs, and warrior pose variations. As they learn and feel more comfortable with the idea of being the pretzel they once thought they could never be, they can move forward to back bends, three legged dog and inversions.
One of the best aspects of fitness in any form, is achieving goals and the sense of pride that comes with it. My flat mate smashed a goal that day, and the endorphin charge she went through post yoga was huge!
Yes, I heard that song and I love it too.
Yup, I saw you doing that tricky pose half way through.
No, I don’t know how she does that with her hips.
Yes, I know it was hot in there.
You know I was in the same class, right?
She was on such a high spirit I couldn’t get her to shut up, and I was so proud of her for having this positive attitude and for introducing her to her first yoga class. She even went along by herself a couple of times and cast aside any hesitations she once had about her body, flexibility or looks. She was just happy! So I guess I smashed some goals that day too; she was converted.
The movement of our limbs in a way that feels so damn good is hard to hate, and there is a reason why people all over the world are turning to yoga. They will resist in the beginning, but you and I both know that they will cave to our yoga loving ways when you breach that skeptical barrier. Just keep an open mind and a respectful attitude if yoga is definitely not their thing.
I’m doing a great job of not sounding cult like them, aren’t I?
Want to bring a skeptic friend to a yoga retreat? Go to BookYogaRetreats.com and search among thousands of options available on the web!
*Photography: Ellie Feiss Design