The Non-Practicing Spouse

For the vast majority of attached Yoga types, a non-practicing spouse is a guy. I must be one of maybe, oh I don’t know…nine…male Ashtangis on this planet who has a non-practicing female partner. My stories of the way we interplay regarding Yoga would not resonate with yoginis who grapple with non-practicing men. I don’t know for sure, but I imagine a lot of guys roll their eyes dismissively while their yogic girlfriends and wives effervesce about how ‘deep and meaningful’ their practice is and what chanting has done for them lately.

At the end of the day, I’m still a guy and she’s a girl. Which means that she is wildly enthusiastic and encouraging about (my practicing) Yoga…and I’m frustrated as all hell that she’s never practiced a single asana.

I remember three or four years ago, she came back from an afternoon of browsing at Indigo with a ‘Yoga book’ for me. ‘I’ve bought a Yoga book for you!’ She announced cheerfully. I don’t remember my reaction, but I paint a picture of myself: Warily, I might have gazed at her, I’m biting my lower lip, bracing myself what is surely about to underwhelm me. She pulls out the book – it’s pervasive white cover-thin orange border trademark identifies it across the room. I’m not good at diplomacy (ironic that I was trained to work in the foreign service). I let out an involuntary sigh. I was obviously pissed off and she read me like the book she was holding. I laugh (and cringe) now thinking about it. She was as stunned and hurt at my complete ingratitude as I was at her complete misapprehension of ‘what I was all about‘. In recollecting it all now, I realize now that was I a bit of a pr*ck – I even remember inquiring as to whether she’d kept the receipt. I feel bad about it now. She meant well. She always does.

I should add that I’m happily married and contented. Indeed, I am well-pleased at how things have turned out in my life – including my choice of a lifelong partner. But my spouse (and I guess this is often true of many others) reflects to a degree who I was when I met her, rather than who I am now. For example, I married a vegetarian largely because I myself was one. (Incidentally, I now realise that vegetarianism was the beginning of my practice. Long before I even knew or understood that I would take up Yoga so thoroughly, it was the kernel of an embryonic practice).

Since then, Yoga has thorougly enveloped my life and now shapes my thoughts in a profoundly comprehensive way. I seem to view all things through the yogic lense. And in this increasingly fundamental aspect of my life, her absence is blaringly conspicious. I hold my hand up and readily admit that I wish she practiced (I’m bound to – after all, If I think it holds the road to salvation for everyone, naturally I’d want her to have a piece).

I bet she would practice. I need to find a way to make it easier for her to join me.

This post is for a kindred soul.

7 Responses to The Non-Practicing Spouse

  1. Sue says:

    My spouse was a non-practicing spouse until about a month ago. I somehow convinced him to start yoga and he (unexpectedly) agreed to trying it out.

    He’s now enjoying his beginner’s classes and we’re looking forward to practicing together once he’s done with the beginner’s course.

    I hope your wife will come around one day and “try it out”, I’m sure she’ll love it (who doesn’t?!).

  2. Sergio says:

    I’m one of those rare cases you talk about: my gf and I have been together for five years and I’m the yoga practitioner in the couple. She is curious about it, though, so the situation might change.

    What’s worse is the fact that I’m vegan and she is not even vegetarian. What are we going to do when we live together? Will I have to have dead flesh in my own fridge? Ew.

  3. Cody Pomeray says:

    Hey, this is like a support group! I have a non-practicing wife as well, but she’s always been really supportive. Although she chides me for being the blandest eater ever, the vegetarianism is rubbing off on her.

    Think of the good part, though. Once you have kids there’s no way both parents can squeeze in practice in the morning before drop-off for school!

  4. Anonymous says:

    I am also a male yogi with a girlfriend who doesn’t practice. She really loves to stretch so I am hoping that if I can get her to try the right class or video she will really take to it…

    We have been together for quite a while and over the years she has been eating less and less meat and really come to love vegetarian food. One day she may even let go of the meat for good…

    It is like a support group here! I wonder how many others there are like us out there…

  5. Yogamum says:

    I used to have a non-practicing spouse, but now he practices. Which is good in almost every way, except for scheduling — if we want to go to the same mysore class, we have to find a sitter. $$$$ It was easier when I could just sneak off by myself 😉

    I never tried to convert him, but one day he decided to give it a try on his own.

  6. Caroline says:

    Ash, you mentioned in one of your earlier posts that sometimes your daughter watches you doing yoga. Perhaps eventually she’ll be the one to join you. My 5-year-old daughter enjoys the Yoga Kids dvds and even follows along with my dvds (often doing the asanas better than me). Isn’t it such a joy knowing that your kids are being involved with yoga at a young age?

    Also, you have such an interesting post about yoga being more than just the asanas, and I wonder if your wife might be ‘practicing’ yoga in other ways. Perhaps she might enjoy more bhakti or jnana yoga.

    My in-laws, who just celebrated their 50th anniversary and are now retired in Mysore, each have their own ‘yoga’ paths. My father-in-law takes a walk each morning and practices some asanas, while my mother-in-law accompanies him and does some simple stretching. I think that her path has been in the form of bhakti yoga. Somewhere the paths cross, and they can understand and appreciate one another.

    My husband is actually the one who introduced me to yoga over 10 years ago, but today I’d say that I take a more active interest in it. Perhaps the seed of yoga will begin to grow in your wife’s heart. It’s so sweet how she thought to pick up that yoga book. She sounds very nice.

  7. liv says:

    Joy begets joy. As a yoga teacher I see a lot of this type situation—and I live it too! It reminds me of who I was in a prior life (okay, decade) when a nun was listening to me worry whether my husband would ever become Catholic. She said that I should leave him alone about it, but not to give up the ship. I sort of feel the same way about yoga and the nonpracticing spouse. I have had to seriously study the practice on nonattachment, and realize that although I have a practice that consumes a ton of my life, so it may never be for my mate. That said, the fruits of the joyful life that you live as a yogi can only ripen your relationship. And as an aside, try some partner poses!

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