So…you want to date a yogi? A cautionary tale. ~ Laura Riggs

Via on Aug 25, 2011

Originally published on Recovering Yogi on August 4, 2011. 

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 By Laura Riggs

When I began teaching yoga five years ago, I made it a personal rule I would not date someone within my yoga community, especially one of my students.

Workplace romances are always risky – you must consider the possibility that if the relationship dies, the other person will live on to remind you that there are still people in this world you can truly despise.  Thus, when a trusted colleague suggested that she could envision me dating one of the students at the local yoga studio we managed, I immediately rolled my eyes and scoffed at the idea.  Together, she and I ran a studio notoriously known to have the highest percentage of ego-centric yogis within a 50-mile radius of downtown.    Having dealt with my fair share of men (and women) within our yoga community who disguise themselves under a thin veil of a seemingly “spiritual pursuit” to connect to their Hottest Self, I thought it best to remind her that she was currently outside of her mind if she thought I was about to start breaking my rules.

Furthering my point, I had already observed a slew of dramatic relationships at the studio that met with ugly, bitter endings.  (I often thought I could write a warped soap opera entitled “Days We Wear Lulus”).  Many of my friends mistakenly exposed the most vulnerable parts of themselves to another, thinking that since that other person was also part of the yoga community, they held the same values of how to treat each other.  Now, I am not talking about some new age, hippie dippie idea of love; rather I’m referring to the basics we all learned in kindergarten, i.e. the “Golden Rule.”

They were in their “yoga bubble” and too naïve to recognize that many people within the community failed kindergarten. (Yes, it actually happens!)  I have many terminologies for these flunkies, but the most succinct one I can think of is “Player.”  A Player prowls their community seeking to date an amazing, wonderful and preferably care-taker type who is gullible to their charms.  And, for a player, what makes for better hunting grounds than a yoga community?  People showing up in their best gear, hair done, makeup on, and hot bods, with hearts “bursting open” as they prance along their yoga mats posing like cougars, all in the name of shaking their Shakti free!  Duh…big RED truck!

Not only does a yoga studio provide fertile hunting ground, but Players are masters at catching you off guard with their grandiose display of charisma, cheerfulness and perceived intelligence.

They flaunt their nice guy/girl behavior in a covert attempt to date the women/men they covet in yoga classes.  My head-on collision with a Player began a couple of years ago, when one sent me a lame-ass request for a date on Facebook.  Because it was so passive, I did not recognize the invitation to be anything more than to meet up as friends.  That is, until I showed up at a well-known, overpriced, make-a-good-first-impression sushi restaurant and he was dressed to impress.  Realizing this, I calmed my nerves with a bottle of sake (ok, two) while he shifted the intensity of his gorgeous blue eyes and focus of the conversation straight onto me.  He seemed intrigued and eager to learn more about my life, so I did much of the talking (and thanks to the sake, this unfortunately also led to over sharing, but that didn’t matter because hey, I wasn’t really on a date, right?).

I walked away from the evening believing he was sensitive, attentive and cared about my feelings.  Since he did not say much about himself that evening, I also left curious to learn more about him (and investigate why I had this little nagging voice, called intuition, telling me to run like hell from this man).  That first date led to our second date, then to the third, and then to an almost two-year long relationship.  I can’t say for certain why I decided to break my own rules, but I became intimately involved with one of my students. All the while, he categorized and criticized every one of my humanistic flaws to use them later in an effort to exploit my supply of kindness and admiration.  Since I was a real person who would express real feelings about his lack of empathy, or if nothing else, his promiscuity, I did not fit into his fantasy of “ideal love,” and therefore would be discarded like day-old milk when there came a point in our relationship that I truly needed him (when I lost my job)… shit.

The irony of it all is that I worked for the King of all Players — the Playboy, of our rather large community.

I had been privy to observing the etiquette of a guy who wrote the book on playing, yet I missed all of the GIANT red flags when my particular Player, already well-known for his antics, set his sights on me.  The Universe has an interesting sense of humor sometimes, doesn’t it?  It took me quite some time to heal from the loss of this relationship.  In fact, some days, the question still weighs on my mind what about him kept me interested in continually being wounded by his gifts of chaos, panic, anxiety and the sense of dread that his infidelity caused.

For me, I realized my own self-fulfilling narcissistic needs to be the grandiose caretaker created a platform to dive into the toxic pool of lies and pain that shadowed his world.  Since he wasn’t all that physically, or even emotionally attractive, I have come to understand that I tolerated his repeated patterns of injustice because I had created an illusionary relationship and an idea of love for a man who, in reality, did not exist.  In truth, he needs short-term relationships that offer an endorphin high, because Players crave the rush of positive reinforcement that caretakers provide.  It works like cocaine on their instable psyches.  Once the feelings of euphoria have passed, their deep insidious envy of their partner will be the driving force to end the relationship before their partner can threaten their deluded self-image.

So how do you know, and better yet, what do you do when you encounter a Player (or Playboy) within your yoga community?  My advice, first and foremost, is to listen to your intuition when it tells you there is something wrong with the situation.  This is not judgment, just a deep knowing that if you choose to get involved with this person, you are aware of the fact that they will strip you down to a sickened sense of worthlessness that you have never before felt in your entire life.  So RUN!

**Props and appreciation must be given to some wonderful people at Psychology Today whose articles have offered immense insight into the dark world of Narcissism and allowed me the space to begin healing from the wounding caused by trying to meet their unreasonable expectations: John R. Buri, PhDScott Barry Kaufman and Randi Kreger.


About Laura Riggs

Laura started practicing yoga roughly ten years ago and began teaching five years ago.  She left a successful career in advertising to teach yoga full-time because she decided it would be totally rad to pretend she was 21 again. She managed two large studios for the past two years, led many teacher trainings, and enjoyed having her soul sucked out of her. Now that the LSD in the Kool-Aid they had her drink before work each day has worn off, she is relieved to be rid of a company that believes first in money and second in “speaking your truth” — so long as it agrees with “our truth” because “our truth” can kick “your truth’s” ass!  She does admit there are days that she still checks the studio’s yoga schedule and experiences flashbacks – only to be grateful she no longer has to manage the severely undereducated teachers trying their best to fulfill the studio’s mandate to “Bring the Sexy Back” to yoga. Last time she checked herself, before she wrecked herself, yoga was never sexy to begin with…..

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Read part two on Recovering Yogi:  How do you distinguish a Player from a Playboy?

About Recovering Yogi

Far from the land of meaningless manifestation, vacuous positivity, and boring yoga speak lives Recovering Yogi, the voice of the pop spirituality counterculture and an irreverent forum where yogis, ex-yogis, never-yogis, writers, and readers converge to burst the bubble of sanctimonious rhetoric. We are critical thinkers and people who just love to laugh. Visit us on our web site for some straight talk, join the discussion on Facebook or Twitter, or buy a t-shirt and support our mission.

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31 Responses to “So…you want to date a yogi? A cautionary tale. ~ Laura Riggs”

  1. Guest says:

    Bravo! Great post about something nobody talks about. Yoga classes can be meat markets and nurseries for narcissists. This drama is all too familiar. (I also drank the Kool-Aid, Laura, and showed up for work every day, but was run off the premises for trying to speak truth to the powers-that-be.)

  2. max says:

    very nice article. it really is amazing how fucked up the yoga community is.

  3. Suri kate says:

    Yogis with huge egos…very , very common…i dont understand why they feel so special…

  4. Bendish says:

    Come on! Shit happens. The only rule in life is that there are no rules. This site is a massive ironic joke on western interpretations of Yoga and spirituality. Love it!

  5. Bendish says:

    Isn't the mirror often used as a metaphor for yoga?

    Watching projections.

  6. Tanya Lee Markul Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Thanks Laura. I haven't come across this so much myself, although I did go to an intensive where one of the assistant teachers gave me the cold shoulder once my boyfriend showed up. :-)

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
    Join us! Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
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  7. Keren says:

    Well written and … unfortunately, I totally agree! Been there too :-(

  8. Melissa says:

    i agree with yoga studios being like meat markets. i do not feel comfortable at all. and its not even because of the men. as a larger lady, hell, if a man wants to check out the junk in the trunk, i am flattered. it is the other women who make me uncomfortable. they are far more judgmental than most of the men you will find in those sort of places.

    as far as players go, there are so many out there. men and women. and men and women both have fallen prey to them and been hurt. i would wager that most of us, if not all of us, have probably played and been played.

    i like to put a positive spin on things. while feeling hurt, disappointed and sad is inevitable, look at it as a blessing. like your life is a garden, and he was a nasty weed. now you can flourish. some bridges are meant to be burned, and you, none of you who are reading this, need that kind of negative energy in your life. so instead of mourning the loss, celebrate the freedom.

  9. Bendish says:

    This is about life. It happens everywhere all the time. People get hurt. The joy and the pain. Bring em on. Where there are men and women there will be drama. It's worth it. Play the game. Enjoy it!

  10. Tanya Lee Markul Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Just posted to "Popular Lately" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  11. Tanya Lee Markul Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Just posted to "Popular Lately" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  12. CeeBee says:

    Bendish, you're sounding oddly like one of those people who uses Eastern spirituality to justify anything-goes behavior. "People get hurt" = "I get to hurt you with impunity. Now get over it."

  13. Bendish says:

    The minute you think you’re above it all, life can show you that you are not. The intention of not hurting people can go far. Reality however will always throw you curve balls. Low and behold we make mistakes and hurt others. We are responsible yes. No excuses. Just be aware of the role that all parties play. I’m not sure you ladies want the label of preyed upon vulnerable yogis duped by some cliche yoga caricature of a man. The original post seems like a whine to me if I have my hard cold specs on. Or just heart broken misdirected sadness/anger/cliche ridden bunkem. Silence is golden.

    • Laura says:

      Hi Bendish – I have a great book to recommend to you – Bitter is the new Black, by Jen Lancaster. Cheers!

  14. [...] So…you want to date a yogi? A cautionary tale. ~ Laura Riggs [...]

  15. Rick O'Connell says:

    Great post! But while i feel what youre saying to be truth as you see it. I think you defining what you want out of the relationship would have served you well. We are all human,players and not… Best to use youre intuition and stick to youre first feeling… Aloha

  16. Faith says:

    If the studio's mandate is to bring the sexy back to yoga, it's not surprising to me that students would want to have sex with each other. They are buying into the promotion. But there are many other studios, often small ones, less sexy seeming, that offer yoga as intended. Not as sexy though, and maybe not as fun. But you can still be 21 again in your mind, lithe, alive, free.

  17. Patrick C says:

    Thank Highness for Dave!

    This western culture opens gates for “victims”.
    Laura, get a grip. 2 years and you’re still mentioning letting your guard down on the first date? 2 years. Really?
    Take ownership.
    Move on.
    Let go.
    Do the best you can. No really. Do the best you can, just as we expect everybody else to do.
    You are not a victim. You are living your story, proceed accordingly.

    Best.

    Patrick

  18. Laura R says:

    Thanks Dax – yes, the WHOLE time….total drag.

  19. DaveTelf says:

    Hey Laura,
    Thanks for the thoughtful reply.
    Hallelujah!
    Much love to ya.

  20. Laura R says:

    You are welcome, Dave. Love to you right back!

  21. Laura R says:

    Dax, I agree – trusting instincts are key! And I wouldn't dream of lumping every guy into this mix, that is for sure.

  22. Laura R says:

    Thank you for sharing, brave Charlotte. I am sorry you had to go through such a harsh realization to get to the truth – sometimes it seems to be the only way and I am happy you "grown into Yoga" (what a beautiful way to express the journey).

  23. Vero Barnes says:

    Wow… thank you for sharing Charlotte.

  24. Laura says:

    Thanks Vero, it will take some time, but I look forward to loving again through a clearer version of myself. :)

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