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

Published on August 4, 2011 by      Print
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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, PhD, Scott 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…..

Filed under: Boundaries | Soulless Hippies and Tagged:


  1. matthew says:

    So good. I have wanted to write about this but no way could I write anything this good. When people find out I do yoga, invariably, the guys will say: “Ohhh, hot chicks.” That always turns my stomach. I personally wouldn’t ever date a fellow student, and if you are going to yoga to get turned on, you aren’t really right in the head.
    Great read!

    • Laura says:

      Thanks Matthew – I agree.

    • Valentina says:

      I would love everyone, especially the author’s opinion. I have taken yoga on and off for a couple orbiters and recently purchased a 10 pack at my local studio to get in full swing. I took my first class 2 days ago and cannot get the instructor out of my head! I dint know if it’s his soothing voice, his beautiful fluid movements, or his piercing blue eyes but I’ve got it bad!!

      After class, i made it a point to make conversation, which led to him suggesting i take his class the following day, and telling him what i do for a living. There were also quite a few glances exchanged, and i think (or maybe its hope) That he was noticing me in the aame manner.

      This studio has 2 locations and over 20 instructors. So I could just go to another class
      easily. Im wondering- do instructors tend to only date other serious yogis? Will dating a student they’ve taught once break an ethical code?

      I am smitten folks!

      Any wise words on whether or not I should pursue?

  2. Donna says:

    oooohhhhhpphhhh, even though I know everything you say is true it still feels creepy – almost predatory how these people act……. I am suitably warned thank you very much Laura!

    • Laura says:

      Donna, I believe I used that EXACT adjective several times to describe this certain individual – creepy, without a doubt.

  3. Ari says:

    I once dated a resident at a yoga center, believing that all his visible and known flaws were surely the standard blemishes of life on the CUSP of being cured by the ongoing Noxema wash of his 5AM “sadhana” (and the osmosis of my own self-perceived virtuousness).

    Also he was persistent as hell.

    I have never lied to myself so thoroughly as when hoping (beyond reason) that the gap between reality and the fantasy of love (and yoga) was smaller than it appeared.

    Lesson learned: the visible doing of yoga is not a comment on a person’s character.

    Yoga _being_, now that’s a different story and may not involve ownership of a yoga mat at all.

    • Laura says:

      Exquisitely stated, Ari. NYMR (No Yoga Mat Required) is my favorite of all practices, for it involves much more outside of the studio than in.

  4. Shasta says:

    You sound bitter. What is it with the women on this site that they get into messy relationships and then go on to trash the yoga community. There is something sad and pathetic about this site. I guess it’s good that you found a woe-is-me crowd here.

    • taylor says:

      THANK YOU FOR STANDING UP TO IDOCRACY and Petty Antics. This behavior, and even more fundamental, this thought process should not be welcomed or condoned! Grow Up Gals!

      thats my .02, i feel dirty even acknowledging an awful article like this.

  5. Shasta says:

    Personally I just think you are BLOCKING, and PROJECTING, the bountiful blessings with your, “self” and your “ego” .

    YOU really need to see that MY Shakti is the best! “My Shakti rocks”
    My several hundred gorgeous and well to do followers will agree!

    Just LET go, of your “blocked energy”, LET GO of your ideas and most of all LET GO of those pesky clothes and your “blocked” wallet!

    I can heal all, merely supplicate before my might, and you too will know freedom.
    And quit interfering with my getting laid!

    Yours truly,


    • Laura says:

      Shasta – sounds like you are the perfect for me. How soon can we hook up so that I may learn all of the bountiful and abundant BS you have to share?! Lord knows I need to shake MY shakti around a bit these days.

  6. Don says:

    Nice post, Laura! I completely agree, yoga class is not the place to scan for hookups and if you are, you are completely missing the point of yoga.

    Now hula-yoga, that might be a different story. :)

  7. Jenifer says:

    i hear you, sistah, i hear you. :)

    i’m blessed that i was married (ok, planning the wedding, but i’d been with the guy for, like 5 years before we married, and now we’ve been together, like, 16 years, and we, like, have a kid now who is 3) when i got really involved with the “yoga community.”

    prior to this time, i was in classes with mostly senior citizens. Sometimes, nice married ladies in their 30s and 40s. mostly senior citizens. i studied with 3 different teachers (three different styles), in a rural, university town setting. And most of the clients were seniors. One of my teachers taught us at the uni — apparently guys didn’t take yoga classes back then. :D

    but when i entered the “community” — man, what an amazing thing to watch. some people were down right yucky. i was like “people, really?” but no one ever listens to me about this stuff, so I ignored it.

    still, i judged it as yucky.

    • Laura says:

      Yucky works, Jenifer! I am also fond of dummy mud faces when I feel overly perturbed by a situation, too. We are human, and sometimes we do yucky, dumb things. I value when my friends tell me “hey, that was really crappy what you just did” and I can say “you are so right, and wow, I am sorry”. Isn’t that what we all hope for in any community?

  8. John B says:

    So…what you’re saying is that, in spite of all the spiritual wrappings and yummy, stretchy exercise…a yoga community is just like the rest of the world? Full of yucky people with their own agenda? You think it’s a scene out on the mat? You should really experience the men’s locker room! It’s not the cougars I’m watch out for, it’s the old (tan & tatooed) naked lions in shower.

    • Laura says:

      Ew, ew, ew. Isn’t that the area where Players learn their habits, John?

      • John B says:

        I don’t think they have to learn it. By the time they are adults, boys have already been wired for the “…need (to find) short-term relationships that offer an endorphin high, because (men) crave the rush of positive reinforcement that caretakers (strong Mother figures) provide. That’s why there are more men in professions that come with built-in thrills. (fire fighters, police officers, soldiers, race car drivers, stockbrokers) 25 years of extreme sports and finance and that’s the only thing I know for sure!

        The centering effects of Yoga are the perfect antidote to all this risky behavior for me but I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t also secretly enjoy watching the student next to me “shaking her Shakti free”.

  9. nathan says:

    Yeah, you know, I think it’s just fine to date someone you meet in a yoga class. In fact, it makes sense to be with someone with a similar spiritual path – that is, if yoga is being treated as such.

    Some of you seem to be creating a taboo where none is needed.

    Laura’s post is pointing to the fact that yoga communities are no different from anywhere else, and it’s best not to let all the high minded, and “sweet” talk blur your mind.

    Spiritual players and drama divas are big trouble. But there are plenty of quality folks – like yourselves perhaps – in yoga land.

    • Laura says:

      Very true, Nathan. I think it is true in the yoga community, as it is in any community, a few rotten apples spoil the bunch. Having a negative experience such as I did could have happened anywhere, and would have been disguised by any means. I feel that there are many who use their spiritual path to justify harming behavioral addictions. For me it was a lesson, as Ari stated, there was a gap between my fantasy and the reality of his character – something to be extra cautious of when you are basking in your yoga glow.

    • Davinder says:

      I really like nathan’s reply! I actually read through all of the comments before reading the article fully just to see if anyone had said anything like this. I personally have gone to yoga classes for the benefit of stretching and strengthening my body, and thought, oh there’s also an added bonus of seeing some really cute chicks there. I always sat at the front of the class because I hardly knew how most of the poses worked, and therefore didn’t see most of the students except for during the beginning and end of classes. IMHO I think there’s no difference in meeting and getting to know someone from a yoga class, as long as you don’t let the fact scenario cloud your own judgement. I’m only 22 years old, so pardon my naivety, or if I’ve offended someone.

  10. So….You Want to Date a “Yogi”? A Cautionary Tale. « Become Om says:

    [...] Published on August 4, 2011 on recoveringyogi [...]

  11. How do you distinguish a Player from a Playboy? | RecoveringYogi says:

    [...] confessing to dating a Player, I was grateful for your comments, advice, and stories, because you offered insight that, even [...]

  12. Eri says:

    sometimes it’s hard to listen to your own intuitions :(
    and narcissists can be very very charming at first ..
    I have been through a similar experience and yeah it’s very painful but I believe we can learn to understand ourselves more deeply though our suffering

    may I suggest these readings that I found very helpful:
    Freeing Yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life by Linda Martinez-Lewi
    Will I Ever Be Good Enough?: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers by Karyl McBride


    • erin says:

      This stereotypical “Player”, she got tricked into dating… for 2 years, was such a player that he well… dated for 2 years. Players dont usually stick around that long.

      If you stay in a bad relationship for too long, that is your own fault, 100%, (yes, we’ve all done it, but we dont all dilude ourselves about where the blame goes on that one).

      Anything and Everything that occurs to you in your life, is your responsibility. You are the only one to blame for your misery.

      If your fat, start a diet
      if your lonely, stop sitting at home alone.
      if your angry, sad, resentful, or bitter… try to accept responsibility for your own state of being, maybe try and practice unattachment (like a true yogi should)

      No disorder is to blame
      No man to *fix
      no blame need be alotted.
      Change what you dont like, try not to complain about the rest.
      Be good to people around you, and spread positive vibes when you can.

  13. Nikhil says:

    This story sounds so familiar.. I bent over backwards trying to please this girl and stuck in her story of what reality for so long!

    Thank you for opening my eyes… I am still coming out her reality back into my reality… Word of warning for people, if your gut instinct says get out, GET OUT!!!

  14. anon says:

    I know of whom you speak . . . this certain individual wreaks havoc wherever he goes. Thanks for writing this. I wish someone other than me would come forward with the truth about him. it is sad to see so many people (myself included) falling for the act.

  15. JJ says:

    Enjoyed your article, but i also agree with the 22 new practioners reply. Its ok to acknowledge that there are plenty of hotties in yoga classes. To disavow any and all sexual tension in class is a little silly. I see gay/bi chicks checking out other chicks all the time in class. BTW I’m a pretty well adjusted married non predatorial guy…and I’m still attracted to several women at my studio. Its just natural…

    Actually in my case I find the most weird tension comes from “too quick to EWW” women that actually shy away from any form of interaction with a man. I mean, cmom lady…we see each other 5 times a week, sweat our guts out less than a foot away, and you cant return a friendly smile or say hello?

  16. Sophie says:

    As someone who has been living with a male yoga teacher long term – at what point is a line crossed? One of his students text messages, calls and invites my partner out repeatedly after lessons. Sometimes 4-5 times after a class. She is married also. I am not into yoga, but sense something if not right, yet don’t know protocol between teacher and student. It just doesnt feel right to me.

  17. Chad says:

    wah wah wah!

    I’ve never heard that story before. Innocent, unsuspecting girl falls for charming and seductive guy, oh no… hes a sneaky, lying, asshole guy, who then breaks her heart for no reason. … cue 1990′s pop song of choice… almost funny. Well, no not even almost… just obnoxious and a waste of time. shame on you and all of them like u.cunt!

  18. StefanieNor84 says:

    unfortunately, i agree with guy aboves comment. The C* word is a little harsh though. This kind of article and writing is undeserving of a column or an audience. I thought yoga was supposed to be for people who try to become better human beings, not better egos… Please hun, rep. us women well, and save the drama for your mama.

  19. WeAreAllHuman says:

    We all want affection and love from ourselves and yes as social creatures from others. We all have weaknesses. Dating someone from a yoga class is not the issue. Yoga is meant to bring ourselves closer to reality, ourselves and the human condition. It is only natural to feel an affinity to others who are practicing yoga along with us. In many cases this affinity is justified so long as the other person is also in Yoga class for these legitimate reasons. Should one leave their guard down? This is a rhetorical question in its very nature. Life in general doesn’t allow us to be vulnerable to others often and in fact the only vulnerability one must always be open to is the honesty one can have with oneself. Do you want a partner who is sensitive and open of your needs, and of their own? It comes at a cost. If you are willing to pay with your heart being broken, and becoming a more mature adult then proceed. If you don’t want to feel the pain of being alive then welcome to the fantasy a multi-trillion dollar industry. If nothing else that, is your choice.

  20. Primitivemind says:

    We are people, and what define us is NOT what we do (yoga, cross fit, bodybuilding, surgeon, garbage collector, etc) but what we are, who we are. So you think you are so special because you “belong” to a so called “community” and certain ethics need to be attached to it that is different from ethics that are common sense on the outside of the yoga studio. We are people. We are sexual. North Americans (Canada, US) are seem to be tight assed, conservative on the outside yet have the same urges but ashamed of them on the inside so you create rules and your own “ethics”. In the parts of Western Europe where I learned how to be around people, observe them, how to listen to them, look at them and accept them as they are, the kind of communication most of you have would be considered “interesting” in an alien kind of sense. You are not any more different or special than everyone else just because you are a yoga instructor or student. You have the same emotions, feelings, urges, attraction as everyone else, so F@#$% off kindly.
    Can you date a yoga teacher or student? Of course you F@#$% can. Why not? He / she is human, and what they do, what their passion, profession, hobby is, is just one small part of what they do in their lives to make sense of it, to enjoy it, to meet others with like interests. So if a man or a woman goes to a studio because they want to meet sweating hot, semi naked people, if the interest is mutual then why not. And if the interest is not mutual, then the same thing happens as in a bar, street or park or wherever the f@%^ you meet men, women; if you are not interested, simply decline and move on.
    I have been part of the hot yoga “community” for over 10 years and have had several wonderful relationships, affairs, one night stands, name it I had it, and all without exception I managed with mutual interests or separation. They were all honest, open, “all hands on the table”, nothing disguised, hidden, nothing false. We are people here on Earth for a limited time. If you are scared, frightened of the unknown, the unpredictable, the uncertain, I totally understand, but to create rules and boundaries way beyond our nature is just plain paranoia to me. Healthy rules and boundaries are of course a necessity and a must, so don’t try to rip me apart on this one, it won’t work. You and I LOVE sex. We love intimacy. We also need respect and common sense inside and out of the studio, but we are NOT any more “special” because we choose to contort our bodies in a group settings. Don’t always believe what you think, your mind is a funny comedian.

  21. So….You Want to Date a "Yogi"? A Cautionary Tale. | Become OM Blog says:

    [...] Published on August 4, 2011 on recoveringyogi [...]

  22. So….You Want to Date a “Yogi”? A Cautionary Tale. – A day in the life… says:

    [...] Published on August 4, 2011 on recoveringyogi [...]

    Response posted on May 6th, 2017 , 1:41 pm Reply

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