Ex-y Yoga

Published on May 16, 2011 by      Print
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By Matthew Miller

The town I live in contains maybe five yoga studios, about 65,000 residents, and my least favorite ex-girlfriend.

Despite my initial misgivings about yoga, I am deep into it now, and few things deter me from getting to class several times a week. But this last week I learned that there actually is one thing that can drive me away from my favorite Tuesday night yoga class: The Ex.

She isn’t just any ex-girlfriend; she is the ex-girlfriend: the one who served to remind me of all the things I never wanted from a relationship; the one who routinely engaged in crazy-with-a-K behavior toward me; the one who… oh I can’t even begin to list the things that made being with her so wrong.

The first time I saw her at my yoga studio I truly didn’t care.

I thought it was kind of funny/cool in a “oh-good-for-her-I can’t-stand-seeing-her-here” sort of way. She walked up to me as I talked to a friend before class, surprised me by saying something nice, and then we hover-hand-hugged. After that, I totally ignored her and didn’t really think about it. But then the next time, and the next time, and the next time she was there. Not just there, but being a real show-boat yoga student, blowing through poses before the teacher even initiated the next one, her ujjayi breath resounding through the studio.

Surely, I should rise above and not let her deter me from joining class? Of course I should, as she was fond of telling me: “man up” (a deal-breaker phrase for this grown man, FYI). I should accept the fact that The Ex has begun attending every night at my favorite studio.

However it’s not like I can just go to another studio here in town. The studio I attend is IT. I love the intimate, unpretentious, calm vibe of the 16-person-capacity studio, and the teachers are wonderful. I have been to several studios, but this small place is just perfect, for me, since my yoga-neurosis is so pronounced, I have trouble relaxing enough to even do the practice at other studios. In other words, I’m real attached. Yes I know, we yogis are not supposed to be attached.

So here I am, a grown, tough man, who has avoided going to yoga for days because I don’t want to see her, hear her, or even smell her patchouli.

I feel like she has stolen my refuge (thank goodness for RY!), and taken my one special place I can go and be surrounded by friends. All I can think when she is in class is “You owe me a ton of money” or “You hit me so hard I puked twice,” or worse. I certainly don’t want to dissuade my classmates from befriending her, as I believe (naively) that I somehow brought out the worst in her, and (hopefully) people can change.

Is she ruining my yoga experience? Yes, undoubtedly. Should I just deal with it and move on? Sure. Is it distracting to the point of infuriating when she is in the same class as me? Oh, god. YES. But maybe, like so many other students, she will burn out and stop going after a couple weeks. But maybe she will keep going, serving as a constant reminder of what I don’t want, which, really, is just as important as knowing what I do want.

Is this a stupid yoga lesson?

About Matthew Teague Miller

Matthew Miller lives in San Pedro, CA with his daughter, Lark. He is employed in the auto industry, a full-time dad and part-time yogi. He makes pretty good spaghetti sauce.

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  1. Shawn says:

    MAN up, Matthew!!! No really, man up. Get your stinky, hairy game on and drive the ex far, far away. Think of the yoga studio as the O.K. Corral. Time to make you stand in Mountain Pose.

    Stop bathing before class. Wear your sneakers without socks. Eat as much kimchi as possible. Then plant your gross, disgusting MAN-ed up self right next to your ex in EACH and EVERY class. Remind her that you brought out the worst in her.

    But do it mindfully. You are a yogi, after all. This is your practice, Matthew-son. Go, reclaim your life. And remember, all yoga is get-a-spine yoga.


    • Matthew says:

      YES! This is good. Being a fairly confrontational person, I have no problem pulling up alongside her next time she’s in class. Maybe for some spontaneous partner yoga! Thanks, Brian. Kimchi and tofu. That’s lunch today.

    • Amelia Catone says:

      Shawn, I like your angle, but she has a patchouli forcefield, remember. This nullifies any and all foot stink, kimchi ass, mountain man musk that Matthew could muster. I mean, Matthew… does the girl really wear patchouli? Because that is almost too much for me, cliche-wise. Too funny.

      Once you have a new lady in your life bring her to class with you (or hire one? just for a couple of weeks?). Done and done. Just be sure she knows what she’s getting into :-)

      • Matthew says:

        Oh yes, patchouli is a real part of her every day life. Ha, your response made me laugh!

      • Liska says:

        I suddenly want to start a yoga escort service…

        • Heather says:

          OH. I am SO up for a job as a yoga escort. But only if it’s awkward for all the wrong reasons. Yogi + Count of Monte Cristo is *it*. Identity epiphany.

          • Amelia Catone says:

            Yoga escort service!!! WOOOO!!! You heard it here first! Let’s do it. Liska, you can be the Madam. The Heidi Fleiss of the yoga world. I will also volunteer to be an escort. Heather, are thong leotards appropriate attire for a yoga escort?

          • Liska says:

            All that’s left is to figure out what to charge for a happy savasana!

        • Amelia Catone says:

          happy. savasana. Liska!!! dyyyyyyyyinnnggg

  2. Rosie says:

    Just tell me when and I’ll lock the door! Seriously, I get it. I don’t go to one place because it’s en route to the house where a jerk I used to date used to live.

    • Matthew says:

      Thanks Rosie! Now you know reason#2 I have been practically non-existent at Bindu lately!
      See you Tuesday!

  3. EcoYogini says:

    I like the confrontational part- it would suit me just fine too. But at the same time- that’s a lot of money to go towards ‘letting go’… If she’s this crazy… is she coming to class to bug you specifically?? I mean, it probably isn’t the case, but what if?

    Although you shouldn’t let someone stop a studio practice that you love, I would definitely weigh the pros and cons here. If someone were causing me a whole boatload of anxiety, or ruining my yoga experience- i know myself well enough when to say ‘the stress isn’t worth it’… and I’d probably take the opportunity to attend a periodic class a week (unpredictably in case), and focus on deepening my home practice (which was SO powerful for my yoga practice).

    I’d give myself about a month and see if she burned out, or gave up. Stress isn’t some weird competition with ourselves that we need to stop someone from ‘winning’, it’s life.

    Also, I think ‘letting go’ is bullshit. I have a ‘letting go’ line that I have decided on various occasions weren’t worth the silly lesson to learn.

    But ya, you’ll do what works best for you in the end :) Good luck!

    • Matthew says:

      Thanks EcoYogini. Very good points. One thing I did was start doing a very strong home practice. It has made a huge imprint on my ability with yoga. I like your point about stress. SO true. And yes, ‘letting go’ is not in my wheelhouse. I do believe that you never truly ‘get over’ things, you just learn to assimilate and accept.
      There is a lesson here, but sometimes it’s not worth the energy trying to learn it. You are exactly right. Thanks.

  4. Sam says:

    Ugh, how annoying! I don’t even have any advice. I’m just annoyed for you.

    In your shoes, I couldn’t be the bigger person. In your shoes, I’d take them off and slap her with it. I’m hoping you’re a better person than me because I’d probably set her mat on fire. :) I’m kidding. I hope.

  5. Tree says:

    Love is a funny thing. When the universe seems to be kicking your bottom she is doing so with love. Meditate and seek wisdom from a guru or astral guide. Namaste!

  6. Jane says:

    You have clearly come to an advanced lesson in your yogic practice. It is a great gift to literally have an elephant in the room with you. Some of us have a difficult time spotting ours, but yours is literally in the room with you. What a gift to open and explore, given the discipline and balance you have acquired and can call upon for support. I say lean into the discomfort of it and see where it takes you.

    “Worrying is praying for what you don’t want.” – Martha Beck

  7. Jane says:

    And there are no stupid yoga lessons, only timid pupils.

  8. Michael says:

    I remember years ago (and I’m sure I freaked out to Ms. Hamilton about this for probably weeks) I showed up for class with my fave teacher at the time (Steph S.) and there were no spots left in the crowded, hot studio. Steph says loudly, ‘Michael, we’ll clear a spot for you over here!’ I squeeze over to the spot she is having students clear, and who is literally right in front of me? THE ex girlfriend. Like from several exes ago, but she was a powerful person in my psyche, and someone who had done me pretty damn wrong.

    I thought about leaving. I actually starting rolling up my mat. Then I thought, screw this, this is MY class, goddammit. She can be the one to feel uncomfortable. And after class, she was literally the first or second person out of the room. Matthew, hopefully she’ll see the light — and feel the discomfort. And leave you the hell alone!

  9. Chrissy says:

    Gross! I was on the flip side of this….hopefully she isn’t there to bug you, however if she is, all that you can do is find the furthest spot and enjoy your peace bubble!

  10. Christine says:

    You can guarantee I would be feeling the same way if my ex was going to my regular studio. I hope she burns out and stops going after a few weeks or decides to switch studios.

  11. Don says:

    Now that I’ve stopped hyper-ventilating, all I can say is I’m glad my ex views racquetball as her exercise for spiritual awakening. Never thought about that metaphor before, I’m glad I got out when I did.

  12. Karen Eckersley says:

    This is YOUR practice; and it’s about you and the teacher. Everybody else in the class has their own trip, and if you have to imagine Dick Cheney on the mat next to you to remind you to focus on your own work, then feel free (insert character of your choice). Who cares if she’s in there trying to do whatever. Okay, maybe a well-timed fart happens, but other than that, focus on your work.

  13. Robert Fortune says:

    Great story. Isn’t it great when all the inner work goes flying out the window when a certain person walks into class, slaps her mat down and harshes out your zen? Especially when you know that the the opaque super duper inner calm lotus position bliss face they affect is the mask of a crazy person? uhm, not that I have ever had that experience…

    P.S. Thank you for making the Sri Darth Veda idea come alive : )

    • Matthew says:

      Thanks, Robert. Glad you can relate. Thanks for the kind words. Mask of a crazy person, indeed.

  14. Donna says:

    Woooaahhhh dude – ex-girlfriend yoga destroyer, not an easy take down so first things first…1)You totally rock for writing about it, 2) patchouli is beatable no matter anyone says, 3) yoga escorts with thong leotards are a win, especially if worn with leg warmers, 4) crazy people don’t have stamina for non-crazy stuff like yoga so you’re on a short time line and finally and most importantly 5) may the force be with you. Bon courage!!!!!

  15. Helsta says:

    Love the article! I’m having EXACTLY the same problem at the moment- I’ve been going to my favourite yoga class for 4 years, and now my ex has suddenly appeared. My teacher reckons I should be a “yoga ninja” and block his presence from my consciousness or some such, but let me assure you, this is easier said than done. I’m just hoping that he’s a “flash in the pan”, go for a month and then quit, yogi…..

    • Matthew Miller says:

      You’ve just gotta own the room, show him you are 100% fine without him and his presence isn’t even a distraction, it’s just a blip. That’s what I did and she didn’t come back after a while. There’s a way to pleasantly ignore someone. Do that.

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