A hot, cramped studio, the potential for bodily slipups, and a whole lot of sweat: Sounds like a date from hell. But, in fact, yoga dates are on the riseand for good reason! They are intimate, sensual, and cheap, and great for your body and soul, to boot.
As yoga becomes more mainstream, yoga dates help break up the monotony of the standard dinner-and-a-movie night. “You can learn quite a bit about somebody more quickly than in a restaurant where theres less interaction with others and its the run-of-the-mill date,” says Jennifer Macaluso-Gilmore, who coaches women on dating and relationships.
Getting your blood flowing in a PG setting can certainly be beneficial with a new partner. “When you move your body you feel good, when your blood starts flowing and you start breathing,” says Jennifer Fink Oppenheimer, a New York–based yoga teacher. “Any sort of exercise makes you feel good, but yoga specifically opens you up.”
But while a vigorous Vinyasa class can be New Age–style foreplay on a budget, there are five cautionary factors to consider before unraveling your yoga mat next to your dates and joining each other in Downward Dog.
Picking Mr. Yoga Right
Even if your new partner isnt a budding yogi, you can still enjoy a Zen date. But just how soon you share in Savasanaand how you even propose the ideacan be tricky. Sometimes its better to hold off on yoga on your first date, but that doesnt mean you have to wait for things to get super-serious before you hit the mat. “You want to bring out the best in yourself, especially in the beginning when youre getting to know somebody,” says Macaluso-Gilmore. “If you go to yoga classes regularly and are comfortable in that environment, then its fine right off the bat. But if it creates any anxiety or insecurity, then it may be the kind of date that you save for when youre more committed to one another.”
Be prepared to do a little coaxing; a yoga class may seem like the perfect date to you, but he might need a little convincing. If you have more yoga experience than your date, be sure to explain what he should expect from the class beforehand to put him at ease. After all, attending your first yoga class can be nerve-racking enough, and even more so in a date setting, says Fink Oppenheimer.
Setting the tone with the right venue
As on any date, the venue establishes the tone. You might spend time on Citysearch looking for the perfect restaurant or wine bar, and, similarly, youll want to give some thought to where youll take your yoga class.
If your guy is new to yoga, take him to a class at a gym where he feels more comfortable, says Kristin McGee, a New York City–based yoga and Pilates instructor and Health Expert Network pro. If you want to take class at a yoga studio, opt for one that is not overtly spiritual. Pre-class Sanskrit chanting could make your date uncomfortable if he isnt used to it. Check out the class offerings at your local gymmany offer evening sessions perfect for a less experienced pairour peruse yogafinder.com or yogamates.com to locate a nearby studio.
Dressing down for date night
Its fine to hit your local supermarket in your favorite holey sweats, but like any first or second date, consider putting more effort into your ensemble. Fink Oppenheimer recommends wearing yoga clothes that are fun, colorful, and stand out in a sea of black-and-white basics. For affordable options, she suggests Lucy.com, and Bluefish Sport for higher-end, funky selections.
Even though you want to look your best, avoid anything over the top. “I wouldnt encourage a woman whos not comfortable showing her midriff to show up at a yoga class bare-bellied and trying to look hot and sexy if shes not comfortable wearing that," she says.
Chances are your date may be unsure whether to show up in gym shorts or jeans, so throw some helpful hints his way. Anything from running shorts to simple sweats is fine, but remind him that overly baggy clothing can become a problem when hes hanging upside down.
Beware of bodily noises
Passing gas can be downright mortifying when you are next to a date, especially when youre in the “Who me? I dont have bodily functions” phase of your relationship. So how do you prevent a gurgle or burble from erupting mid-twist? Avoid eating anything for about two hours prior to the yoga class. “When you eat and your bodys digesting the food, thats what produces gas in your intestines, so youre less likely to have any gas in there to begin with if you havent eaten for a couple of hours,” says Roshini Raj, MD, a Health magazine contributor and assistant professor of medicine at the New York University Medical Center.
Steer clear of foods like beans, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, onions, and carbonated beveragesall of which can produce gasthe day of your date. People with any kind of lactose intolerance should nix dairy as well. Although you may be tempted to pop a piece of gum pre-date, dont. “Chewing gum causes you to swallow a lot of air and that can cause gas in your intestines, so avoid it prior to going to yoga,” says Dr. Raj.
But what if you still let one loose? “Laugh it off, realize it can happen to everyone. Passing gas is a totally natural thing and everyone does it on average about 20 times a day, not always with a sound or a smell,” says Dr. Raj. “Move on, take a deep breath, and then concentrate on your yoga.”
Close encounters of the awkward kind
In a packed class, there is a high likelihood that your butt will wind up in someones face (Standing Straddle Forward Bend), someone could have a close-up view of your armpit (Extended Side Angle), or critical and private body parts could slip out of a tank top or shorts (during backbends, forward bends, and straddles). To avoid a too-tight situation, plan to arrive early so you can stake out some roomy mat space for you and your date. If the class gets crowded and an awkward encounter is unavoidable, embrace it. After all, where else can you get so close without taking your clothes off?