In the early days of teaching yoga, I was able to secure a job at a local library one town over from where I live.
They had a great program that focused on offering discounted programs to their patrons, while simultaneously supporting local yoga studios to get more business. They would secure grant money to help pay the teacher a desirable stipend, not much, but enough for the one hour class.
I was also teaching at a local studio in Southampton at the time, and the library’s program director recruited me from there. I thought it was a great plan to help bring more people to the studio and also more yoga to the community.
Looking back, it didn’t quite work as well for the studio as I would have hoped. But, unlike other libraries, this one tried by offering limited yoga classes each week, at least, and limiting the number of participants who could join the class and the amount of classes they could sign up for each week. Also, registration was required for the whole 7-week series; no walk-ins accepted. This way, there wasn’t an abuse of the program, plenty of space for everyone, and still trying to honor local businesses.
For the most part, the same group of people would sign up whenever the program was open for registration. It was competitive. To secure a spot, you would need to call as soon as registration opened and pay in advance. I don’t recall the cost for patrons but minimal in comparison to going to a yoga studio. For a 7-week series, the fee would be in the range of $65. This was a 2008-2009 time frame, and the cost of a studio class at that time, was approximately $22. Fast-forward to now, 2023, and the same studio is $30, not sure about the library fees.
The patrons were mostly women, a group of about 30. There were a few men.
The library is beautiful, reminiscent of an old-fashioned luxury summer mansion—dark mahogany wooden staircase and banners, beautiful large windows, lovely fireplace to sit by and read your favorite book or newspaper. The room we practiced yoga in was large and used as a multipurpose room. The floor was checkered laminate, black and white. One wall all glass doors that could open in the nicer weather, out to a lovely patio overlooking green grass. The opposite wall had shelves filled with yoga blankets, blocks, and straps; not typical for a library to supply. The door leading into the room, located on the lower level of the library, was a heavy door for fire purposes I suppose, since it was, technically, a commercial building. For anyone leaving early or coming in late, the doors would announce their intent. For those more mindful, it was a quieter sound, and this was the majority of people. But, there’s always that one.
He first attended my in-studio classes and would make his dislike for the higher pricing known. For a studio to make any money, of course, the price has to be higher. There are overheads like staff, utilities, rent. Small businesses don’t have the luxury of supplementing costs with taxpayer money like a library does. In any case, he took issue with the price. But, for me, as a yoga teacher, I took a much more significant issue with him, for several reasons.
Not that others’ clothing is ever any of my business, but after having many experiences with him and a much longer career teaching yoga now, I can look back and see just how wrong the situation was at the time.
He would wear the same outfit for every appearance. I suppose at some point in his life, he fancied himself a tennis player. If that was the case, it does explain part of this story but not another part. He would wear short, white tennis shorts…and quite honestly, I forget what he wore on top, as a result of the trauma I endured; perhaps a simple white tee shirt. I do remember he also wore long white socks and white tennis shoes as well! I wonder if the tightly worn clothing was old and purchased from a time his body was younger and more in shape.
He would always walk into the class late, door slamming behind him. The whole room of yogis were already set up and in a peaceful mind frame; some would turn their head to look, and some already knew his recurring behaviors and ignored him, but with obvious resentment.
He would place himself at the back of the room and grunt and groan most of the class, loudly. Then, he would leave early, in the same manner. I was never quite sure if he just beat to a different drum entirely, or if he did these things to purposely cause upset. He seemed oblivious to his rudeness but could have just been playing dumb. But, then there was also this. I realized I was being targeted when he began attending my library classes once I took the position there.
Well, in hind sight, I realize this. As I mentioned, he would always position himself at the back of the class, and as I also mentioned, he wore short white tennis shorts, every time. The one thing I have yet to expose (pun intended) is he wore zero undergarments; nil! He was also pretty overgrown in the male genitalia department so, to be blunt, it all spilled out of his shorts, heavily.
There I was, teaching yoga at the front of the room, and he’s lying down in stretching poses at the far back. I was the only one facing him and, therefore, the only one subjected to this indecency. Little did I know then, this show was just for me.
I first noticed this exposure while teaching at the studio, in fact. As a new yoga teacher, I didn’t know what to do or say. I know now this was unacceptable and that something absolutely could be done and or said. I believe there was some mention of a dress code at the library but nothing concerning wearing underwear! So, nothing was said or done.
Every time this happened, I would go home and ask my husband about it. I was trying to give him the benefit of the doubt and thought maybe he didn’t know his manhood was hanging out of his shorts. My husband assured me that he could 100 percent feel it and knew what was happening.
I was left not knowing what to do, so I ignored it and carried on with my teaching. I would speak with my yoga community—at the studio I owned—about it and we would laugh, and everyone would be in disbelief. One of my favorite past times is to make light and bring humor to a situation. But, I see now as a woman, this was not an acceptable situation.
I opened up my studio in the town I live in in 2014. One of the teachers I hired, in passing, mentioned she had previously taught at another local library. In my jovial way, I asked if she, too, had a man exposing himself to her there. I was not expecting the response I got. She was a sweet, innocent woman, and like me, would be confused and overlook something like this, as a response to not knowing what to do. Her eyes and jaw opened wide and she looked at me, knowingly.
It was then I came to understand, this man was a serial exhibitionist. He got away with it, all those years. It was then I came to understand this was a serious situation, a crime in fact and nothing to make light of at all.
What will I do if I ever see him again? At this point in my life, I will avoid him at all cost. I will continue to share this story to help others speak up. If something like this ever happened to me again, I would have no choice but to get the authorities involved.