Like a lot of yoga-doing ladies, I thought it would be cool to date a fellow yoga-doer. So I imagined my tall, dark and handsome yoga-doing dude. How we'd head to a Saturday afternoon class together, our mats slung companionably over our shoulders, practice side-by-side, and then stroll to nearby cafe for Chai lattes.
We'd sit in the sun and bask in our own awesomeness. Then we'd float back to our trendy, modern, photo-ready apartment and have perfect, mind-blowing sex, made even hotter by the fact that we could both contort our bodies into freakishly bendy positions. He would complete me, on and off the mat. I just had to find him.
A few years of bad dates and dead-end relationships went by, and I still hadn't found my ideal yogi match. But then somehow I managed to meet the double-trifecta of mate potential: tall, dark and handsome, plus respectful, kind and caring. We shared the same values. We had fun together. He made me laugh. My heart rejoiced.
There was just one catch: He didn't do yoga!
Oh well, I told myself. It's enough that he supports the fact that I do. This was certainly true. I was lucky. But I couldn't help thinking it would be even better if we could do yoga together. After all, I'd tried going running with him once — didn't he kind of owe me?
On our fourth date, when I was still trying to impress him by being both sporty and feminine, I'd agreed to go running with him, mistakenly thinking myself fit enough to do so. I thought it would be fun to have a sporty running date together.
But about 10 blocks into the "date," I found myself in a full-out sprint, trying to stave off cardiac arrest while simultaneously trying to look cute and not die. As he ran easily beside me (it almost seemed he was jogging but I refused to acknowledge that humiliating possibility), he kept up a steady stream of thoughtful commentary on everything from how his week at work had been, to the latest news items. He was never once out of breath, his footfalls swift and sure, his running form a thing of beauty.
Meanwhile, still trying not to die, I actually thought to myself, If I ignore that my heart is pounding out of my chest, it hurts to breathe, and I'm suddenly feeling rageful at how freaking hard this is, then I guess I'm doing a great job! He must be so impressed! I'm his sporty new girlfriend!
And then as if on cue, he casually mentioned, "So let me know when you're warmed up enough to start running."
That was the first and last time we went running together.
So now it was his turn to dip a toe into my world. After a few super subtle hints like, "Hey, wanna grab dinner Friday? Oh and you know what's even better than dinner and rhymes with schmoga?" Gracefully, he accepted his fate as my yoga date and tagged along for his first class.
I was so excited that I'd finally scored a yoga date with the elusive straight male who was seemingly willing, I could barely concentrate through the beginning meditation. Focus, I commanded my wandering mind. Be yogic. OM Namah … whatever. Don't think about any one else! Stubbornly, my errant mind continued to dance over to my dude and whispered a few words of encouragement. I was sure that after my running disgrace, I would be able to actually teach him a thing or two.
Yoga strength is its own unique entity — you can be an athlete of any kind, but parked in a rigorous Warrior II sequence for a few minutes and even the strongest thighs start trembling. I couldn't wait to help him along, while demonstrating my own superior form. He would be so grateful for my assistance and in awe of my yoga prowess.
As the class progressed into active practice however, I noticed that he was annoyingly good. And as my own struggles ensued (this was an advanced class, after all), I battled a mixture of envy, resentment and pride as he sailed through the class with relative ease. I started to wonder if maybe this guy had a secret life as an undercover yoga ninja.
As the 90-minute class wore on for what seemed like days, my arms strained a bit — even after all my years of practice — under my own weight as I transitioned from Plank to Chaturanga. My yoga ninja date however, eased himself down with grace and dare I say, damn-near-perfect alignment.
We held low for several deep, slow, Ujjayi breaths, and as my own breath became more intense and labored, with the veins in my neck straining a bit, I glanced over to find him looking at me quizzically. He actually appeared to be floating with no effort at all — and then even managed an arrow-straight return back to Plank Pose. Meanwhile, my alignment suffered — my torso folding as my quavering arms gave out. He asked if I was OK and I shrugged. I was fine — I just lacked the upper body strength for proper execution of such a maneuver.
Of course, I was proud of him but found myself gritting my teeth. I'd wanted to bring him to class so he could try yoga. And yes … a very small part of me wanted him to be in awe of something I could do that he could not. But instead, he was surprisingly good! Like really, really good! Now, I kind of wanted him to get the hell out of my class … and was immediately ashamed of myself for thinking that thought.
Even more frustrating was that my newfound awareness of yoga philosophy through texts like Patanjali's Yoga Sutras and the Baghavad Gita, made me examine what was driving my desire for him to struggle, while also be impressed by me. It was ego. That darn ego. The anti-yoga! That I was so un-yogic while he was so good at the physical practice, served as an additional level of humility.
That was the first and last class we went to together. As it turns out, I didn't want a yoga dude. I wanted a great guy who supported my desire to practice yoga, and I wanted yoga to be exactly what it had been all along: my solace, my refuge and my own solitary endeavor.