Bringing your Sweetie to Class

photo from whole living magazine 

Few yoga peeps I know are lucky enough to have a partner as dedicated to the practice as they are.  In my house I am the yogini and my husband "knows {he} should do more of it" but practices about once every two years.  And of course, never with me as the teacher.

So if you're considering making a date with your sweetie to introduce him or her to your passionate love affair with yoga this Valentine's day, here are a few thoughts on how to make the class work to your advantage rather than turning off your partner for life.

Choose the Right Level -- I don't know how many times I've had someone bring their spouse to intermediate class and say - "Oh, s/he's really fit and I just love this class, I'm sure it'll be fine.  You'll do great teaching him/her even though it is the first yoga class s/he's ever been too.  Isn't this fun?"  Um.  Actually, No.  This isn't fun.  It might be fun for, you, a regular student with a consistent practice. But it is totally not fun for your spouse who feels like a complete idiot fish out of water.  And it certainly isn't fun for me the teacher who has to spend a large portion of the class time making sure your sweetie doesn't hurt herself before you make it out to brunch after class.  Bringing a brand new beginner to a higher level class means that the teacher has to devote extra attention to him or her, and chances are that is the LAST thing they want when they already feel like they stick out like a sore thumb.  So, do your love a favor and take him to a beginner class.  Yes, this will be a slower pace for you, it might even feel bo-ring.  But at least give him a chance to awkward, inflexible, or just plain confused by this yoga thing in a classroom full of other people who are feeling exactly the same way - not in a room full of yoga journal cover models.  Besides, you might learn something new yourself.  Going back to basics never hurt anybody.

Introduce the Teacher and get the Ball Rolling - On the other hand I DO love it when someone brings a friend or sweetie to an appropriate leveled class and then introduces me to him or her.  I love getting to know and love the people in my students' lives and knowing that I'm offering enough to my students that they feel like sharing the love with friends and family.  It's like they get a free-pass into the class club.  If you just set up shop in the back corner without introducing your love and making the link, I don't know how important this new student actually is for the class and to YOU.

Step Back - After you get the ball rolling and I know how important this new student is... let it be.  Let us get to know each other.  Let him or her answer the questions I have about injuries, conditions, and yoga history.  It never fails that the over-excited partner answers all the questions and tells me the newbie's history before I even have the chance to hear it from the horse's mouth.  If you want your love to keep on coming back to class with a teacher you adore, you're going to have to let them form their own individual and unique relationship (that means without you).

Along the lines of Stepping Back, if you can stand it Practice on Opposite sides of the Room - If your squeeze can stand to be separated from you for long enough I highly recommend that you place your mats where you aren't in contact with each other.  Once again, I've seen many many times when the more advanced partner tends to get WAY over involved in the new yogi's practice.  Offering advice, telling him/her what to do when, calling me over when there is a pose that is brand new  or too challenging (see #1 to fix this problem).  And well, how well do you learn new things when your partner is 1. trying to teach you or 2. breathing down your neck to see if you're doing it right?  Yeah, me either.  Being over-involved is the quickest way to get your love to run for the door.  Instead, by practicing apart from each other you let your sweetheart know that this is a personal experience that you are each having separately.  It says you trust her to take care of herself, to ask for the help she needs, and to be a respectful adult.  It also helps YOU stay centered and focused on your own experience which is probably part of what you value in your yoga practice.

After class Listen Well - You finally got your honey through the door and to his first yoga class, and you feel totally blissed out that you've found the amazing thing the two of you will do together for the rest of your lives. Now.  Chill.  Chances are he has his own thoughts on the class that he may or may not be particularly good at sharing.  If you can create a safe space for him to explore his reaction to that pivotal first yoga class (rather than answering all the questions you ask him with your own answers in less than 5 seconds)  he may just start to see some benefit in the practice.  Or he may begin to see that he totally hates yoga and never wants to do it again.  If that's the case, a hard sell isn't going to bring him back and may even turn him away from trying out your next suggestion.  A little respect for his own unique take on things will go a long way.

And finally, Practice Gratitude - no matter how it went, she was at least willing to try something new with you.  A little acknowledgement of that gesture and a Big THANK YOU will always go a long way.

So if you try out a duet yoga class sometime soon keep these thoughts in mind, and let me know how it goes!

 If you are here in RVA check out Yoga Source's deal for a free class for your love on Valentine's Day!  Enjoy!

Elizabeth Fuqua