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How to Force People to do Yoga (or Not)!

You know how profoundly yoga’s changed your life! You’ve espoused the benefits to everyone – how it will be the antidote to all that ails them, that they will emerge changed beings, body, mind, and soul! So how come your stressed-out dad, your tight-hipped mom, your high-strung sister, your anxious friend, even your fitness-obsessed neighbour will not come with you to yoga? Why?

Excuses, Excuses!

“Aw, I’m too old to start now,” says your dad.

“It’s too slow and boring for me!” your neighbour says, running off to CrossFit.

Your sister admits, downing her fourth espresso, “I know I should, I honestly just don’t want to!”

“No!” You find yourself shouting. “Yoga’s good for everyone! Even if it can’t heal you completely, it’ll change your perspective! Don’t you want to be in touch with your body? Become aware of your thoughts? Examine your values and judgments and let them fall away? Who wouldn’t? Hello?”

Sound like you?

If not, pat yourself on the back. If so, take heart – you are not alone. From distributing unrequested class schedules to passive-aggressive gift-card giving, passionate yogis everywhere are busy trying to spread the word!

Why can’t we yogis just relax?

Of course we want people to do yoga because it’s done a world of good for us in some regard – newfound strength, resilience, a more positive outlook – we imagine our loved ones making these same discoveries and expanding their lives.

For those of us who have been fortunate to heal an injury with the help of yoga, or break through psychological barriers that were holding us back, the fever can be even greater. We begin to see similar patterns of pain in others, and now know the antidote! We’ve told them, so why won’t they just do it?

How did you get where you are today?

If we think back to our initial forays into the practice, we may remember it wasn’t always a joy. It may not have even been relaxing at first. Perhaps it was scary, or too slow; maybe there was too much spiritual hoo-hah for our taste. By the time we’re at the point of dragging others into it, we’ve done the work of trying several studios, figuring out how to engage our back leg in Warrior One, summoning the courage to chant, “Om.” It probably didn’t take one friend bringing you to class to get you hooked on yoga. Any journey of healing is entirely personal and must go at the rate an individual chooses.

Does this mean we must stand idly by while our loved ones suffer, and not sing yoga’s praises? Really? Not entirely. But perhaps instead of haranguing and pushing, we could actually employ the practice here, too. Rather than advising someone on what to do about their pain, tune into your breath, become present, listen deeply. Accept and make space for this person’s pain. Have compassion and understanding for their story – they are stuck somewhere and wish it could be different. Chances are you, too, are in the same position in some aspect of your life right now.

The more you embody the benefits of yoga, the better its message is spread – through peace, not violence; through listening, not telling.

Julia Tausch practices yoga and writing in Hamilton, Ontario. She is a certified yin yoga instructor, as well as the author of the novel Another Book About Another Broken Heart. She is currently completing her second novel and blogging about the process.

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