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How to get your partner, or any non-yogi, on the mat

There are few moments I feel as balanced as just after a yoga class – body aligned, mind clear, ego humbled. It’s one of the main benefits of yoga and one that I’ve been touting to my boyfriend since we met. I want him to experience that same post-savasana bliss. But how do you get a non-yogi on the mat? I’ve been asking myself this question – and while he hasn’t invested in an annual membership yet – my partner will join me for the odd studio practice or at-home meditation.

Here are my tips on how to encourage your partner to join you in experiencing the benefits of yoga.

It may not be love at first asana 

Remember that it might take your partner a few sessions to feel the bliss. Some people fall in love with yoga at first sun salutation. For most of us, it takes a few practices before the flow feels more exhilarating than awkward. Remind your partner of your first yoga class, and how, like all good things, it takes time and practice to build confidence. Show your partner patience, let them take it at their own pace and don’t push.

Try it in a low-pressure environment. 

One of my favourite ways to get my boyfriend on the mat is to roll them out in the living room and do a slow self-guided practice. In fact, this was the first yoga experience he ever had. It’s a great way to ease into it while in safe and familiar surrounds. While I now love the collective energy and reverberating ‘om’ of a full studio, it can be intimidating for first-timers. There are lots of great online podcasts and youtube instructors if you want a guided experience.  I like yogadownload.com and yogayak youtube videos for great instructors and meditation music. I also love taking the practice outside or even just stopping during a walk with our pup to do a downward dog or two. It’s all about making it accessible.

Start at the beginning 

Check your studios schedule and pick a beginner level class to bring your partner to for the first time. Whether CrossFit king or couch-potato, it’s critical that you choose a foundation class that will go slow enough and offer enough instruction to make your partner confident.  Even if he or she is super athletic, yoga is a different kind of physical activity. An open level class might be fun for a glimpse of the advanced asanas that can be achieved with dedicated practice, just make sure to stick to poses that are available to you both.

Experiment! 

When my boyfriend first went to a vinyasa class, the transitions tripped him up. We tried a yin class at home next, and the slow deep poses were more his speed. He even decided to do a combined yin and yoga nidra class after gaining confidence with the practice at home. Acro yoga is an especially fun style of yoga and made for partnering.  You could gather a few couples or a group of friends and do private group lesson. You might find the fun, gymnastic style is something you both really enjoy!

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