Kundalini, what are you doing to me?
August 2, 2010 4:06 PM   Subscribe

How do I focus on yoga in stead of the hot guy next to me?

I've been doing hatha yoga for a few years now. To say I love it is an understatement. It's one of my favourite things in life, both physically and mentally. I'm usually a scattered, ADHD-ish and somewhat anxious person, and yoga has helped me tremendously to relax and focus on the here and now. Until recently.

A couple of months ago, a very attractive guy joined our class, and ever since, I haven't been able to focus at all. I'm twisting myself into asanas, and my mind is constantly focused on him like a freakin' laser beam.

I don't want to approach him or get to know him - I'm in a loving relationship and have no intention or desire to stray. This is just one of those incredibly distracting "OMG squee HOT!" things. It would be fine if it was just an entertaining coffee shop crush during lunch hour, but this is ruining my yoga, my lifeline, my one moment of serenity every week. I'm so relieved every time he misses a class! When he's there, I'm simply aware of him all the time. As well as constantly wondering how I appear to him, whether he notices me (probably not) and all that (mortifying) jazz.

Changing groups isn't an option. Doing yoga by myself at home isn't possible, either, so I can't drop out and go solo.

Is there anything I can do about this, to minimize the damage? Any way to efficiently snuff out this stupid animal attraction? Or any kind of mental acrobatics to turn it into something positive?

In case it matters, I'm female and in my 30s.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
do you want to have a quick affair? confront that possibility. It sure sounds that way.
posted by Postroad at 4:12 PM on August 2, 2010 [3 favorites]

Is there any way you can change where you position yourself so that there are other people blocking your view of him?
posted by kthxbi at 4:12 PM on August 2, 2010

Erm, you're anon, so I guess that's a rhetorical question.
posted by kthxbi at 4:13 PM on August 2, 2010

Consider masturbating some time before your class begins, and have sex with your partner more frequently.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 4:15 PM on August 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

do you want to have a quick affair? confront that possibility. It sure sounds that way.

It sure doesn't. Did you not read this line: "I don't want to approach him or get to know him - I'm in a loving relationship and have no intention or desire to stray."

Anyway, back to the question at hand. What has worked for me in the past is to imagine that the guy is a raging asshole. To me, personality is a huge factor in how I view people physically. The hottest guy in the world to me would turn ugly in a second if I saw him being a prick to someone else.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 4:22 PM on August 2, 2010 [3 favorites]

Uh, unless you act on it in some inappropriate, leering way, there's not really anything wrong with privately admiring attractive people in yoga or anywhere else, really. In fact, I (and probably my wife!) see it as one of the side benefits of a yoga class!
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 4:25 PM on August 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

I read an interview once where a famous rocker compared how he dealt with being tempted by women with how his guitarist did it. He made a point of getting to know them, because he would always find out something that would ruin the attraction, or rather the infatuation, and help him let it go. His guitarist, on the other hand, completely avoided them, tried not to speak to them or have anything at all to do with them. Maybe it's up to what kind of person you are, but I find the first school of thought the way I'd approach something like that. Get to know him and get him firmly into a friend category.

Or you know, change classes. Or just enjoy the scenery and the thrill of the crush even though you know it's not going anywhere.
posted by lemniskate at 4:45 PM on August 2, 2010 [2 favorites]

If it helps, this guy has halitosis, B.O., farts that stink like a garbage dump, runs over kittens, and contributes piles of cash to your most hated political group. He's also already dating Angelina Joli, Brad Port, Madonna's adopted kids, and a plans, and has unprotected sex with all of them.

You know, aversion therapy.

Or you could accept his presence like a gift for you to enjoy, as well as the gift of being able to appreciate beauty.
posted by plinth at 4:45 PM on August 2, 2010 [3 favorites]

Have you done any meditation? The classic Zen way to handle stray thoughts when you're meditating is not to fight them or get mad at yourself about them, but acknowledge them and let them go. I am not great at meditation, but I do it pretty stubbornly, and it's much more satisfying when I can just accept that I'm going to think about dinner and work and Sensei's adorable feet that are just inside my line of sight, and not attach any weight to that fact.

So when you catch yourself focusing on him again, just think "Huh, doing that again," and return your mind to wherever it's supposed to be. It'll wander back, but that's life.
posted by restless_nomad at 4:48 PM on August 2, 2010 [2 favorites]

Keep coming back to your breath. That is the point of yoga, after all. Close your eyes, too. As a male who attends a yoga studio populated by college girls, I have to employ both of those tactics. They only sporadically, but that's why it's called yoga practice. I consider it part of the reason I'm there.

Also, masturbate.
posted by palacewalls at 5:03 PM on August 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

...they only 'work' sporadically...
posted by palacewalls at 5:05 PM on August 2, 2010

Use it for your practice. It sounds stupid, I know, but really. Everything around you, everything you think or do (on the mat or off, really), is a chance to inform your practice or distract yourself from it. When you see a hot dude, or when you think about how the woman next to you can totally do crow better than you, or when you notice your head's on the floor in a wide-legged bend and no one else's is -- those thoughts are taking you away from your practice. And that's okay -- thoughts arise; but it's entirely up to you where they take you. You can follow them, you can fight them; you can simply note their presence, breathe through it, and let it go ("yep, there it is, thinking about that hot guy again -- okay, back to warrior II"). You might also recognize those thoughts as messages from yourself, a subtle kick from your practice beckoning you to pay attention to it more deeply than you have been. The most important thing to recognize, though, is that they are just thoughts, and the question you might ask yourself is, what am I avoiding/gaining/losing by thinking them?

This sounded a lot more vague and hand-wavy than I intended, but in a perverse way I am always interested when my practice becomes a struggle, because it forces me to become less complacent, more focused, and able to delve deeper. I hope that makes sense.
posted by mothershock at 5:06 PM on August 2, 2010 [14 favorites]

What mothershock said above. You're encountering the same problem as do those who practice Zen seated meditation. Distraction is perfectly normal. It can take a lifetime to develop the focus you need to practice wholeheartedly.

If you practice seated Zen meditation in a zendo meditation hall, there is usually a peer walking around during the session with a light, flat wooden rod. If you feel yourself becoming distracted, you can ask this person to lightly rap you on the shoulder (or if s/he thinks you're distracted, or falling asleep they'll rap you without asking). It doesn't hurt, but it does help you refocus.

You probably don't have that in yoga class. However, I remember when I was beginning seated meditation, the one thing they told us was to concentrate on breathing. It's important, because it's impossible for a Westerner to sit cross-legged for more than 10 minutes, and meditation sessions can last an hour. I wasn't thinking of some hot girl's ass in yoga pants, I was thinking purely of pain, and that's a distraction.

Breathing helped. Try that. And like mothershock said, this guy is an opportunity for you to enhance your practice and move on to the next level.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:15 PM on August 2, 2010

Try putting your mat in the front corner of the room. I find with a wall in front of me and to the side I can block every one else out. (Of course, my problem is that the other people in the room annoy me, not that I think they're hot, but it may work for you too.)
posted by yarly at 5:31 PM on August 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

mothershock has it precisely right.
posted by transient at 6:11 PM on August 2, 2010

I'm not experienced in yoga myself, but I've flown this idea by my friends that are, and they said it would be feasible to do a class blindfolded. Would that work for you?
posted by carsonb at 7:37 PM on August 2, 2010

I agree with mothershock. Try and let the stray thoughts just float by. Acknowledge them, then release them.

You sound like you are an experienced yogi so you've probably heard this a thousand times, but connect with your breathing. I know in my practice that focusing on the breath makes me much more present --much more mindful of my own body. If I'm not breathing smoothly I know I'm pushing myself too hard and it's time to lighten up regardless of whether I'm the only person in class whose heels aren't on the ground in downward facing dog. Focusing on breathing really helps me free my mind from distractions.
posted by snickersnee at 10:39 PM on August 2, 2010

I came in not necessarily with any sage advice but rather to share my story so that perhaps you know you are not alone!

So, I read your question right before I headed out to my own yoga class, thinking to myself, "I'm sure glad I don't have that problem! I can always tune out other people!" What do I see when I get to class? Yep, the most handsome guy I've seen in quite some time who, yes, rolls out his mat RIGHT NEXT TO MINE. I immediately started laughing to myself. Luckily (on one hand) the class was a killer and it was (almost) all I could do to keep myself from keeling over. The not-so-lucky part of the killer nature of the class was that there was lots of sweating, which resulted in the shirt being removed and a supremely fit male torso revealed. At this point, I did a combination of what mothershock recommends (note, breathe and let go) and the opposite: I actually focused on this guy and noticed how our movements were mostly in sync. He was in a bit better shape than me so I ended up using him (for lack of a better term) as my inspiration, and I just flowed along in his wake (so to speak).

This also just made me think of a quote I read recently; don't know if it will be helpful but here it is:

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. —Victor Frankl

Good luck and whatever you do, keep going to class! :)
posted by hapax_legomenon at 11:57 PM on August 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

You'll be more attractive to him the more you're into your practice. Just breathe the eros into yourself. Feel it deepen into a source of energy to guide and ground your yoga.
posted by Mertonian at 11:59 PM on August 2, 2010

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