Vinyasa yoga teacher Raina Nemeth met her husband, Martin Kelln, eight years ago in a hot vinyasa yoga class in Birmingham, Michigan. "Every class, he kept getting a little closer," she says. "Finally he started talking to me." A year later, they were dating. They married last January.
It's possible to meet your mate on the mat, but it's not all that common. Yoga etiquette dictates keeping a respectful distance and letting others practice in peace. Though studios are full of single people, they don't always find a way to meet each other. Nemeth figured she could provide a way. In 2008, she started offering partner yoga classes for singles at the Center for Yoga in Birmingham.
Her class and a handful of other singles yoga classes around the country typically offer a warm-up followed by a round-robin-style partner exchange in which everyone gets a chance to practice with multiple partners. National health club chain Crunch Fitness launched a Speed Dating Yoga class in 2008, which it offers around Valentine's Day in New York, Miami, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
Nemeth's class, often followed by a meet-up at a local pub, has spawned friendships and some romances. "Yoga lets you find an unforced connection with someone the first time you meet," says Nemeth. In her partner classes, she says, "You feel each other's breath; you touch to help each other balance. It's subtle, but powerful."
Physical contact with a stranger might not be for everyone. Still, if you're looking for love with a like-minded yogi, it might be worth breathing through the discomfort. "Sitting at dinner on your first date listening to someone talk about their resume... that's boring," Nemeth says. "Yoga is a binding experience. Five minutes on the mat together, and you're bonding."
Looking for Love
What do you do when you have a crush on a fellow student? Boulder, Colorado, yoga teacher Amy Ippoliti suggests ways to gracefully connect in class.
1. Put Yourself First Come to class to feel good, not with the hope of finding a date. When you practice to improve your relationship with yourself, you'll make better connections with others.
2. Be Discreet Yoga is a place for introspection, so don't be upset if your crush doesn't return your flirty glances. That doesn't mean a conversation after class won't be welcome.
3. Smile In a partner pose, be open, friendly, and respectful. Helping someone kick up into Handstand may not be sexy, but it's a way to connect that shows you can be trusted.
4. Socialize Look for chances to meet with groups of fellow students at after-hours events. Get to know someone in a bigger community first to see whether there's a connection.