With the holidays upon us and resolutions warming up in the gates ready for their New Year starts, I was thinking about the impact fresh starts can have on us. In most cases the new year, new you, is a wonderful, positive thing. Change for the better and healthy intentions can only be good, right?
Well, then I started to think about the effect it can have on our social lives, friendships and relationships, and how our life choices seemingly draw us towards other likeminded souls and social groups. Where does that leave our relationships which started before the change, before we rolled out our mat and chanted our first om? Do we have to only befriend or date fellow yogis or fitness fiends? Or is a little yin and yang in our lives a good thing?
It’s a no brainer that motivation and focus is going to be easier to come by if your partner or best friend are heading out on the same pathway towards the top of the snowy capped Nirvana mountain. But what happens if that’s not the case?
With this in mind, here are some ideas to keep those old friendships alive, whilst still maintaining your enthusiasm for your new journey and positive living.
1. Finding common ground
Accepting our differences and celebrating the things that make others happy is part of the balance of good friendships and relationships.
Often, despite the differences in our lifestyle choices, we actually share many things in common, such as love for our friends and family, our outlook on life etc. Just because they don’t salute the sun every morning and they perhaps drink three strong coffees rather than that raw juice, it shouldn’t stop you going a little beyond the obvious.
So look for the things that you do share, the history that you have together, and where there are differences it doesn’t have to be a negative part of your relationship. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to disagree, discuss and debate and not always live in a world where your view is automatically considered right. It’s a great way to question your beliefs and ideologies, and develop your ideas – perhaps even turning a few old pals to the dark side in the process.
2. Don’t overdo it
Yes it’s new, yes you’re excited, but for some it’s just not interesting. For others, they’re worried for you. Believe me, some people would prefer you were talking alien abduction than discussing the latest progressions in your marichiasana B, so be sensitive and aware.
By all means talk about it, but don’t forget all the other things in life that make you a well-rounded person. Besides, there’s so much yoga you can practise off the mat like breathing, listening and compassion.
3. Roll with the punches
Try to see the changes in you from another perspective, through the eyes of someone close to you. I definitely opened myself up for some banter the day I declared myself veggie. As for yoga and Pilates, it still pops up on occasion as an easy cheap shot, when food for banter is running low, but always in good nature, and always with a tongue in cheek or a smile to follow.
It’s actually good practice seeing myself from another perspective and understanding how ridiculous I must look from time to time, standing on my yoga rug with my ‘hot pants’ on (as they are so affectionately dubbed by some of my friends).
However, not being overly sensitive doesn’t mean simply taking any old crap! When it steps over the line of respect, then perhaps it’s time to speak up and balance up your flexibility with a little show of strength. After all, if the new start is important to you, a real friend will respect that.
4. Respect yourself and your decisions
Life is full of compromise, but be sure that the compromise comes from both sides. You have as much right to healthy choices as others do to theirs.
A little banter is fine, and sometimes you’ll find yourself having to fit your new regime around another’s schedule, but continual attempts to pull you off course, or banter that becomes a little too cheap, can easily wear you down. So stand by your intentions!
I’ve seen it from the other side of a room. One partner fancies a few beers, the other fancies hitting the yoga class early next morning. But no one likes to drink alone and that beer that you get talked into turns into four and not long after, that morning class will be up for discussion again a week later.
So look for ways to open up about the importance of your new lifestyle – the positive change in how you feel, the way it makes you an easier person to live with. Invite your partner to support you. Explain that motivation is not always straightforward and ask for their backing. Be careful not to come over as preachy or judgemental regarding their choices, and be sure to say thank you when they do rally behind you.
5. Be honest about your reasons
If having a partner who doesn’t want to be fit and healthy is a deal breaker, ask yourself why.
Sure, if they’re spinning you into an unhealthy vortex with them, then yeah, perhaps it’s time to make the break. But if it’s simply that getting them joining you on a path of wellbeing will give them a nice six pack and moves like your favourite boy/girl band, then maybe it’s time to look a little deeper within yourself during your next meditation.
After all if your reasons don’t go deeper than surface appearances then other deal breakers will be equally easy to come by, no matter how awesome those abs are.
6. Be happy to go it alone
That doesn’t mean breaking up with your partner or ditching your friends! It just means be secure enough to have your own interests and lifestyle choices. For example, when it comes to food, try cooking separate meals from time to time. Another good strategy is to offer to cook for your partner or friends. Who’s gonna turn down a zero-effort, free feed? Be sure to put in some effort and show them that it can be tasty and easy enough to make.
Start with a meal that will ease them into your newfound organic veggie regime. Save the liquidated raw turnips for further down the line.
There are loads of great easy recipes online these days and for those looking for some longterm guidance, I can highly recommend Jo Dombernowsky’s gem of a book, ‘Truly Healthy, Truly Delicious’ – even I have successfully re-created meals from these pages, so hope is certainly not lost.
Also in return, if they make the effort to cook for you, be careful not to be too critical. After all it’s a gift, so be sure to say thank you, and not complain. You can always slip the fried chicken to the dog and sneak out to a local organic food store later on.
7. Lead by example
Forget the preaching and petitioning. Continually preaching and trying to change your partner’s and friends’ ways will only make them close up. It just causes feelings of isolation and in my experience, has only ever resulted in heels being dug in even deeper.
When I discovered yoga, meditation and the wonderful world of wellbeing, it was a bit of a running joke amongst my friends. My enthusiastic suggestions for others to do the same fell on deaf ears. But after a few years of no back pain and knees that didn’t wake up growling at me, I chuckled inwardly when, on a few surf trips and after a few sleepless nights, my piss-taking friends sought me out with a sheepish “so, do you think this yoga/Pilates thing could work for me?”
So instead, lead by example. Be confident and secure in your lifestyle choices and let your newfound energy and radiance speak for itself. It doesn’t happen over night, but believe me, everyone wants a little bit of that ‘feeling good’ factor, and if yours is shining through, then it won’t be long before your friends will be asking for the secret.
Different lifestyles doesn’t necessarily mean that it won’t work. We just have to look for the common ground. For example, I see many happy couples that share the experience of our retreat but moving at their own personal pace. Often one will jump in and immerse themselves in all things wellbeing whilst the other will enjoy the food, the sun and a few classes, but also happily head off for a surf or simply spend their days on the beach. I guess it’s the same on the mat as off, it’s all about finding balance.
Believe me I know how hard making positive changes in our lives can be, but with the right support and a positive energy we have amazing potential within all of us.
I hope these thoughts go a little way towards helping out however big or small the changes you are making. If you have some resolutions in mind, or some tips on how to stay on track, please share your ideas in the comments below, or send us an email – we’re always happy to hear from you.
May 2014 be a year of positive changes, growth and abundance for us all.
About the instructor: Jamie Isaac
|Jamie enjoys many aspects of the fitness and exercise profession, but his passion is Pilates (closely followed by surfing!) Jamie is currently teaching workshops all over the world, including weeks in Bali, the USA, England and Fuerteventura. A former international trampolinist and a graduate in Physical Education and Sports Sciences, Jamie practices and teaches Pilates as more than just a set of physical exercises. By incorporating body and mind he finds the classic Pilates method benefits all aspects of life. Jamie enjoys passing on his knowledge of Pilates, helping others to relax and progress, and teaching in specialist areas such as injury rehabilitation, specialist referral and coaching other sports professionals and enthusiasts. Jamie is the founder of Azul Yoga & Pilates Retreat and Fluid Art Pilates.|