How to (Not) Talk Your Friends into Doing Yoga

yoga with friends
Photo by Louis Fisher

I love yoga a lot. Because my love for this ancient spiritual practice is so extensive, I like to share it with as many people as possible. Whether I’m talking with friends about work, dating, food choices or money, it’s not uncommon to find me inserting yogic philosophy into even the most random conversations.

Most of us have a natural desire to share with others that which positively affects us. But today I write today with words of caution: We must not get too pushy!  If our desire to share yoga is about supporting our loved ones on their own paths to wellness, we have to drop the hard sales pitches and let them find their way.

I admit it: I’ve occasionally overdone it when trying to get friends to come to yoga. You may want to keep these few approaches in mind—and avoid them!—the next time you find yourself pleading with your partner to try that vinyasa class!

1. Sweet-talking. In this seemingly innocent scenario, you try convincing your friend by saying things like “You would love this class because you are SO athletic. You’d fit right in!” You follow this with an offer to buy lunch at her favorite spot while begging her to come.

While complimenting friends is typically a good thing, be wary of sweet-talk that teeters on manipulation. If your friend isn’t into yoga, examine why you feel so strongly about him or her starting a yoga practice. Are you trying to change or “help” them in unsolicited ways? Or might it be that you get a free class for referring them to the studio? Do you truly care about your friend’s well being? If the answer to the latter is “yes,” then listen to your friend’s concerns and accept what they have to say. Create trust through not placing pressure on them. In hearing them, they may eventually open up to hearing you as well.

2. Crowbar-ing. Imagine a lily growing in the garden, the bud tightly closed. You snip the stem, place it in a vase of water, set it by the window and excitedly wait for it to blossom. After several days, you grow impatient, wondering, “Why won’t this thing BLOOM already?” Taking matters into your own hands, you grab a small crowbar, insert it into the closed flower, and give it a good crank. You will make this thing blossom if it’s the last thing you do!

While this scenario seems ridiculous, think about it: have you ever done this to a person? Have you ever tried to “crowbar” them into loving yoga by dragging them to every yoga class, workshop or sound healing circle, you can find—only to grow angry when their love for yoga didn’t blossom the way you had hoped?

3. Spiritual bombing. These are the moments during casual conversation where nobody expects the topic of yoga to surface, but you make sure it does. For example, your co-worker, having never practiced yoga before, says “Man, that burrito I ate at lunch made my stomach hurt.” Instead of replying with a sympathetic “I’m sorry,” you spiritual-bomb him with a five minute overview of Pitta dosha according to Ayurveda, telling him that his indigestion is a “sign” that he has excessive agni, which may mean that his fiery passions are burning too brightly. His response? “Dude, it was just a burrito…”

Let’s all nod our head in acknowledgment of having been guilty of a spiritual bomb or two.

So how can we responsibly share our love of yoga with others?

We can start by recognizing that while yoga may be a passion for us, it is not this way for everyone. Remember: Yoga asks us to release our ego’s need for control and to surrender our attachments. This goes for our relationships with others as well as ourselves.

Though we may have insights about yoga we’d like to share, it’s important to remember that we gained these insights in our own ways, and we must reserve the same opportunity for others. While a friend may have led us to our first class, the true healing power of yoga probably didn’t begin until the we made the conscious choice to embrace the practice as our own.

So, if and when you find yourself being “pushy,” remember that sometimes, the best way to serve someone is to trust that with patience, time—and a little sunshine—they too will blossom.

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