You’re never too old to learn something new.
And yet, once we start feeling “set in our ways,” we become progressively harder to convince otherwise. Perhaps it’s not such a shock, then, that no matter how often we sing yoga’s praises, our favorite seniors keep saying: “Nah, honey, that’s not me.”
Yoga, as a discipline, is adaptable, peaceful, and fun. Yoga, with its real, wide-ranging benefits for our bodies and minds:
- Supports spinal flexibility
- Offers opportunities to socialize
- Mentally stimulates practitioners
- Adapts to all ages and ability levels
- Necessitates no special equipment
- Yields calm, cool, and confident selves
- Builds inner strength
- Needs no financial investment – that’s right, you may not even need a mat
- Encourages you to be more healthy
- Fits into any lifestyle
- Improves balance
- Turns the dial, bringing the world into sharper focus
- Strengthens the body and the mind
You can extol these benefits to help seniors see yoga’s rewards. But since you’re reading this, you’ve most likely tried that. And they won’t budge.
We’ve got more ideas.
Don’t Patronize Seniors
Assuming that seniors don’t want to do yoga because they think it will be too difficult is a bit presumptuous. While this is true for some seniors, others will have different objections.
Sometimes seniors don’t want to try yoga for the same reasons as younger people - they might think it’s too easy, too slow, too much to learn, or that they don’t look good in yoga pants.
With the existence of many styles of yoga, innumerable teachers with different approaches, and even more varieties of yoga pants, finding a fit is eminently possible. But to do so, you have to realize that yoga-difficulty is not always the challenge.
Disagreeing with someone, however gently, can make the other person more entrenched in their opinion.
Therefore, listen to the concerns of seniors without judgment or counterarguments.
If you can understand and empathize with their worries, you’ll be better able to help them overcome their fears and prejudices.
Before you tell someone they’re wrong about yoga, think about something you don’t want to do even though you’ve never tried it.
Do you think you’re too old for:
- Late nights?
- Laser games?
What would it take to convince you otherwise?
Things get less scary when you share the experience with someone who cares.
Accompany seniors to health check appointments to get the all-clear to do yoga. Then go with them to their first-ever yoga class. Or, if they want to do it at home, do the first few online classes together. It’s almost always easier to begin a new thing with an old friend.
Start With A Beginner Session
I once saw a hen shove its chicks off a wall to “teach” them how to fly.
A senior is not a chick.
Reassure them that they will start with a beginner session and that even then, the instructor won’t push them to do anything they don’t feel able to or comfortable with.
Yoga Practitioners Do It At Home
Doing your yoga session online can solve many yoga challenges in one go.
For example, your senior might dislike the idea of practicing in front of a class of much younger people. Or they might dislike the idea of practicing with other seniors.
Even though it’s highly unlikely to happen, people who are anxious about ageism or body-shaming may feel more comfortable doing yoga in their living rooms and bedrooms. They also won’t have to fret about getting to class, looking silly in front of others – even though others hardly have the time to look away from their own practice – or needing to pee halfway through.
Whatever the issue, there’s a good chance that it will be less of a big deal when the yoga instructor comes to you via a simple mobile or desktop app.
Strike A Bargain
Perhaps you could offer to do something that you’ve been resisting if the senior agrees to try yoga.
Note that at this very minute, the senior you have in mind is researching: “How to Encourage Young People to Work on Corns and Bunions.”
Nobody likes being told what they can’t do. If you gently suggest that yoga would be wrong for them, you might make them determined to prove you wrong.
*Is this too mean? Perhaps. We just understand how frustrating this situation can be!
The benefits of yoga are many and profound but they can sound abstract. Contextualize them by telling personal stories of how yoga helped you physically and mentally.
Don’t even try to persuade. Just explaining what yoga has done and continues to do for you can encourage a senior to give it a go.
Just Do Yoga
One of the best ways to convince someone to try something is to demonstrate it yourself.
Live your best life. Show — don’t tell — how much yoga gives you.
If a senior happens to walk in on you doing cat pose, that might help them see it’s something they could do. Maybe avoid headstands around them, though.
Try Subliminal Messages
Is this a joke?
That depends on whether this advice works or not.
Like the sneaky acronym in the introduction to this post, leave your yoga triggers hidden in plain sight.
For example, you could try leaving a copy of Chair Yoga in a senior’s bookcase. Or swap a DVD with Jane Fonda’s AM/PM Easy Yoga for Beginners. Say nothing.
Yoga Practitioners Also Do It With Love
When it comes down to it, you want the senior in question to try yoga because you know how great it could be for them. And their wellbeing matters to you because you love them.
Whether they are a friend, colleague, family member, or an acquaintance, you want the best for them because you care.
Beyond telling them how you think yoga could benefit them, remind them that their health and happiness are important to you.
Invite A Senior Yoga Practitioner For Dinner
Invite a senior who loves yoga. When the seniors get talking and it comes out why Bob and Sheila look so fit and young, yoga will sell itself.
Complement Hidden Yoga Skills
If you wait long enough, the senior will do some yoga without realizing it.
When you wake them from a nap and see they’ve been enjoying something approximating savasana or they put down their shopping bags and stretch into something not a million miles away from tadasana, a little comment could go a long way.
“That’s great! How long have you been doing yoga?”
Ask Them to Join Your Yoga Journey…
…because yoga’s so good when it’s shared.
If it would be nice to have another person to share yoga with for more than a few classes, tell them. Their unique perspective could help your yoga practice over time and give you something else in common that will deepen the connection between you two.
Tell Them How Savasana Feels
Got More Ideas?
If this isn’t enough to tric–convince your favorite senior to try yoga, what would you suggest? Tell us your personal tactics in the comments!