Most modern day yoga practitioners are considered to be “householders” by the ancient texts. That means we hold down jobs, we have social lives, we have material possessions, and we have romantic love. But what kind of romantic love do we have?
When we first start practicing, not a whole lot changes about our lives. We continue frequenting the same pubs, eating the same types of food, and dating the same types of people. But, if we stick with yoga for long enough, we simply can’t continue to live as we did before. The mindful awareness that we cultivate on the mat begins to spread to other aspects of our lives—and that includes our romantic lives.
It may have been acceptable to us at some point to have relationships filled with drama or lacking consciousness, but as we progress in our own self-study, those types of relationships seem less and less appealing. Sure, it’s great if your partner makes a lot of money or has good taste in wine or foreign film, but that’s not going to help when he or she can’t stay present or remain nonreactive (or, at least, less reactive) during a disagreement.
The best part of romantic love, from a yogic point of view, is that it can enable us to look at ourselves more deeply and grow in ways that might not be possible when going it alone. But that aspect of relationship becomes limited, or fraught with difficulty, if we don’t have a partner who is interested in the same.
So, maybe we should all date other yogis? Well, the problem there is that pesky dating pool. It shrinks. Especially for straight women, who so outnumber straight men in the yoga community, that pool becomes a little pond. A a rain puddle.
Is it best to just stay single if you can’t find a conscious partner? Some people I know view the challenges that come with dating someone who comes from a different set of conditioning (and I do think yoga is a type of conditioning), as ways to help learn acceptance and non-judgment. And I certainly don’t want to imply in any way that yoga practitioners are beyond reproach when it comes to matters of the heart. We fight and cry and bring all kinds of drama into relationships. But I think that most of us are willing to look at our patterns and tendencies, and work toward cleaning them up some. That doesn’t mean that people who don’t practice yoga aren’t willing to do this. But the concept might feel a bit foreign for many.
What do you think? Is your partner a yogi? If you are single, do you prefer to date someone with a contemplative practice of some kind? Or do you feel like your romantic life is separate from your yoga life? Write in and tell us what you think!
Beware the “Halo Effect”. [from wiki]: “The halo effect is a cognitive bias that involves one trait influencing others in one’s judgement of another person or object.”
You didn’t say this in your article, but I’m going to say it anyway, just because I think this is a mistake that many people erroneously make: Just because someone starts wearing lulu lemon, goes to studio abc, x times a week, stops coffee and alcohol, replaces it with tea, and talks of mindfulness and learns a very basics of Eastern philosophy; does not make them a “yogi.”
By labeling someone, in your own mind, as a “yogi” it’s very easy (because it is biologically hard-wired into us funny little humans) to make a slew of incorrect assumptions about them.
I could be all “yogi-like” in my speech and practice; but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have all the other years of conditioning engrained into my being from childhood, other relationships, cognitive-behavioral patterns, view of self and world around me etc…
I’ve never been a reactive/drama-filled sort of person. That’s just not *me*. I like to talk things through, with a healthy mix of emotive-intellect. Now, lets take someone whose the opposite of me: craves drama and all sorts of other bullshit….by them doing yoga I don’t believe it’s going to change them enough to where their style of conflict resolution would gel with mine. Someone projecting themself as a ‘yogi’ might even be a defense mechanism of self-denial in an effort to quell and smother that part to themself that, they know is there, but don’t like it.
Just a thought.
Well, since this is a blog for serious yoga practitioners, so I would hope people reading here understand what I mean by “yogi” – someone who has a spiritual or contemplative practice of self-inquiry, and not just someone who wears yoga pants. But it’s a valid point. I have met very “yogic” people who have never stepped foot inside a yoga studio, and vice versa. I still find that most people who live consciously have some kind of practice or philosophy that they live by – which doesn’t mean asana – that enables them to stay grounded, present, and kind in a world that isn’t always so.
I’ve been married 20 years, which is about how long I’ve been practicing yoga. My husband is not a yogi, nor is he particularly introspective. He is kind, respectful and supportive. It was my husband who encouraged me to take the leap an purchase a yoga studio when my teachers moved away. I have wondered what it might be like to have a partner with similar interests in the spiritual sphere. I know couples like that, and it seems they are not immune from the mundane issues that effect a relationship. I don’t think it’s the most important element to a successful relationship. Sometimes I think it’s beneficial that he is grounded, and funny and irreverent. It keeps me from taking myself too seriously. We balance each other.
Nice response, Kate. Good reminders here.
Everyone I’ve dated the last decade has been a yogi, and I think it is an important quality for me in partner. There’s something nourishing about being able to talk about my practice, or the latest yoga text I’m studying, with a partner and have a good dialogue. While it’s been the case that I’ve dated yogis specifically, I’d be totally open to dating someone with a solid, disciplined practice that doesn’t fit into the Western notion of “yoga” – i.e., someone with a deep meditation practice, or even a serious musician who practiced everyday.
I read this blog (http://afemininefeast.com/a-spiritual-relationship-with-an-unspiritual-boyfriend/) yesterday, and I think it makes a good case that ultimately, it’s all about whether someone walks their talk.
Thank you for the lovely insight!
Neither my partner nor I were yogi’s when we got together 13 years ago. i fell in love with yoga about a year or so afterwards but it didn’t start to “show up ” in life other than classes for 3-4 years, when I took my teacher training there were points I thought he and I wouldn’t make it because our lifestyles & choices had become so different . A few years ago he quit drinking, fell in love with Yin Yoga and meditates daily so I guess it just took sometime for him to catch up lol 🙂
If I were single I would not date someone who was not in a spiritual mind body discipline such as yoga or martial arts …I think there would be to big of a gap in how we view the world and spend our time . I would rather be single than with someone who is not kindred <3
Yoga is good. I love Yoga.
I was sick with back problems and aching joints for 3 years, thanks God recently I have discovered a proven systematic set of techniques that will allow us to enjoy the richest whole body benefits of yoga… from the top of our head to the bottom of our toes.