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Patricia D. Pittman, M.D., MBA

When Your Spouse Is *Also* Your Yoga Instructor

I never thought that when I started this yoga journey I would end up fraternizing with-and then shacking up with my yoga teacher. But it happened. And 4 years later, here we are….still together…and now both teachers! It’s a romantic story of sweaty mats and Triangle postures gone bad. Charles and I are very lucky in that we both have this yoga to share with each other and with our students.

But this post is not about THAT! This post is about being the student of your spouse.

#YogaStudent #fraternizing

In the world of yoga teachers there are only a few out there who can relate to this situation…and maybe they feel the same. It’s bitter and sweet.  Beautiful and disastrous.

Bikram yoga is hard…the heat and the humidity, the postures, and the breathing. It’s a struggle bus just to get through the class without melting or having a breakdown.

Now add in the fact that you have to listen and take direction from your spouse (who you love dearly!) for NINETY minutes….prancing around the podium in his or her skivvies….


He says, “Lock your knee!”….I roll my eyes and silently mutter a little something to myself about how ‘YOU should lock YOUR knee!’. He says “Hold it!” and I immediately think the posture is too long and roll my eyes, yet again. (on any given day there may be A LOT of eye rolling going on!) Some days I am convinced he has cranked the heat up just to see where my breaking point is….to see how far he can push me before I cry out for mercy.

It’s a fun little game we play, because soon, ever so soon, it will be my turn on the podium! And then…wait for it….I will bust out full dialogue Triangle first AND second sets!

He’ll complain almost immediately upon us leaving the studio and give me some reason why you can’t do full dialogue Triangle BOTH sets….I will reply “that’s your yoga for the day”!

Yes, we know all the right new-age yoga phrases to throw at each other to make sure the other is in check.

Unfortunately, my victory is short-lived because in only a few hours yet again he is on the podium, prancing and I am on my mat-writhing through that 2 minute Cobra pose.

Ahh, it is a delicate web we weave between pushing each other and picking on each other and one that must be finessed with love and compassion. A fine line between love and hate in the hot room.


On the flip side of things we are also each others biggest fans in the room. “Beautiful Doc!” he says as I bust out my favorite SHTK or SBPP, and I find great joy in watching him sit his hips down in fixed firm as I know what a challenge that can be with his knees. I know many yogis who would love to have their spouse take yoga with them, so on any given day I am thankful for this gift, despite how challenging it can be at times (see above!).


Charles is a magnificent teacher and teaches a strong class. His students love him & he’s a great advocate for this yoga. I am told I am a pretty decent teacher as well…my students seem to have a great time and I’ve only had one student curse me out…so, not too bad!

And despite the challenges of being each other’s student or  teacher, there is one thing I know for sure….we love our students and we are lucky that the universe granted us both this gift of teaching and of each other.

Being human in the hot room, having frustrations and maybe the occasional breakdown is normal. When taking your spouses class sometimes it’s an extra lesson in patience and gratitude. When hearing the same jokes over and over again…patience and gratitude, right?!


It’s a unique position to be in and one that has it’s own challenges and one that continues to teach me about where I can improve as a human being. At the end of the day I love this life and I am beyond grateful to have my partner in crime here, in Durham teaching THIS yoga, because one day not too long ago, that wasn’t a guaranteed reality!



Good work teach, I love you! Now LOCK.YOUR.KNEE!!!

Much love & Namaste,


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