Love, Sweat, and Short Shorts
Last week someone I have been casually dating for a month or so announced that he purchased a Living Social deal to practice yoga at Bikram LES for the month. I had a lot of feelings about this. I am always talking about how much I love Bikram Yoga and our LES studio in particular, and I vaguely had invited him to come try it out with me sometime, but now the dude had a month pass to MY studio, where I can be seen on the regular all sweaty in short shorts and often in unflattering positions! I wasn’t prepared for this level of intimacy. What if I am having a bad day and just need a yoga class for myself and I bump into him there? What if he starts going all the time and makes a million friends and develops a stronger practice than me? What if we have a horrible breakup and I have to SEE HIM at MY yoga studio ALL THE TIME?!
Get a grip, you say? In the big scheme of things, in the yogi’s eye view of the world and relationships, absolutely none of this should matter. But as much as I try to practice non-attachment and gratitude and being present and all that crap, I am still me, a slightly neurotic New Yorker and “of this world.” But of course, after our first yoga class together, everything was fine/business as usual, and he even had a newfound appreciation for me and the wonderful torture I put myself through several times a week in the Hot Pink Box.
It made me think about all of the happy couples I know who practice yoga together. I always wonder whether one of them actually likes it more and drags the other along, or if they both are super enthused and cheer each other on. So I asked long-time Bikram Yoga sweethearts Ilana and Jon to tell me their story:
How did each of you start your Bikram practice?
Ilana: I had gained a ton of weight after my first year of law school, and was otherwise completely miserable. I Googled “difficult exercise” and Bikram was one of the first results. I did the intro week and the rest is history!
Jon: Ilana was so into Bikram Yoga that I had to try it at least once, and she bought an intro week for me. I thought I’d finish out the week and then probably never go again, but it stuck.
Do you prefer taking class together or do you like practicing individually?
Ilana: When Jon first started practicing, I had a hard time taking class with him. It was already challenging enough not to look at others during class, so it was definitely an added distraction. Also, even though I wanted him to practice regularly and enjoy it, I did not want it to become a couple’s activity! It’s easier to ignore him now that we’ve both been at it for a while, and, at the same, not have a conniption if we do happen to lock eyes.
Jon: All things being equal, I prefer to take class with Ilana. It’s easier to get motivated and actually show up when I know she’ll be there, and it’s nice to be able to commute to class together and talk before and after class. With our schedules, though, we end up taking class individually much of the time.
How important is it to you that your partner have a yoga practice?
Ilana: It was important for me that Jon at least try it and understand my passion for it. I didn’t expect him to get as on board as he did, though.
Jon: Ilana can do what she wants to do! Of all the habits in the world, a regular yoga practice is up there with the best. So that’s good.
Has being a yogi positively impacted your relationship? How so?
Ilana: I’d like to think it’s made me a nicer person, but I’ll let Jon be the judge of that.
Jon: It was inspiring to watch the whole process of Ilana discovering the practice, dedicating herself to going regularly, and eventually becoming a teacher. And she has always been a nice person.
Do you have any advice for couples that practice yoga together?
Ilana: Don’t lose sight of the fact that it’s a personal practice; you are there to work on yourself.
Jon: If your partner buys yoga shorts for you that you think look silly or embarrassing, be a good sport and just wear them anyway. If they’re the wrong size, though, I think it’s fair to exchange them.