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The lone yogini stalks her prey from studio to mat. Her blood quickens at the sighting of a unicorn shadow. She pounces! Only to find a donkey in disguise…

Being single is a challenge for anyone. Dating is one of the most humiliating human experiences (after adolescence) that faces us all. But for the yogini, it is fraught with perils and disappointment. Finding a man that has integrity and spirituality is almost impossible.

It appears that the single, heterosexual, spiritual and conscious male is nothing more than a legend, a fairy tale, a myth, a unicorn. Or, like the dodo, simply hunted to extinction…

In my personal life, I had always wanted a partner that had spiritual practice. But it seemed like an impossible dream. I do not date students, but even in attending classes taught by friends and colleagues, prospects in the studio scene were (and still are) slim. While there are no hard numbers, anyone can see that women outnumber men in the yoga world.

So I settled. I dated non-yogis. Some were men that enjoyed the status of being involved with a yoga teacher; they expected me to be a contortionist, hoping to see me perform in the bedroom. In popular culture, yoga teachers have acquired a status that was long held by aerobics instructors. Yoga teachers are hot, bendy, and the perfect accessory for the successful man on the go. (If one more man wiggles his eyebrows at me when he finds out I teach yoga, I will kick him in the ‘nads.)

Other men I dated were skeptics. They asked me if I was in a cult. One told me to “get a real job.” (Its miraculous I managed to pay the bills with all the imaginary money I earned from my imaginary work.) I have lived with men that banished my altars, questioned my practiced, and lamented “yoga is taking you away from me.”

While they celebrated the status they attained at the beginning of the relationship, soon after they felt as though they were competing with yoga. Because, yoga for the dedicated practitioner and teacher is more than work, it is more than a hobby, or a spiritual practice. Yoga becomes our entire life. And only another sincere practitioner can understand.

This male practitioner that has dedicated his life to yoga is rare, this is the unicorn so many yoginis hunt.

Of course there are male practitioners! But let’s face it, many of them have no interest in women. Others are dogs. I’ve seen some men leave class with a different woman every day they attend. I actually know of a young man that exclaimed in a yoga teacher training program (not one of mine- I would have expelled him): “People in the yoga community know me! They are starting to respect me! I’m going to fuck everyone!”

The sad fact is that many a yogi and yogini are bhogis. The bhogi is one that pursues physical pleasure over spiritual fulfillment. Many people wear their malas, but never use them. They’ll attend kirtans and chant in public, but have no personal or private practice. These are the donkeys in disguise.

It is important to know and understand that appearances are deceiving. A mala is just a necklace if unused. A regular asana practice does not denote a spiritual practice. There is more to a yogi than their looks, props, or pincha mayurasana.

The whole point of finding a spiritual mate is to have a spiritual partnership. This can mean different things to different people, and I can only speak for myself, but the purpose of having a spiritual partner is to share the practice: to perform asana together, to chant together, to meditate together, to perform puja together, to discuss the experiences together. Simply stated, to live the practice, together.

But it is still a relationship, and a healthy relationship is one between equals, built on mutual trust and respect, with completely open communication. This requires two developed souls. To find a conscious and evolved mate, you must also be conscious and evolved.

To catch a unicorn you must first become a unicorn.

Many people rely on a lover to complete them, to fill the emptiness in their hearts and lives. There is nothing wrong with having this desire. However, there is something wrong with relying on another person exclusively, and never looking inward to find the cause of our emptiness, or attempting to fill that emptiness ourselves.

As yogis, we are on a spiritual path that demands we better ourselves. (Yama and Niyama are nothing if not examples of how to become a better human being.) But finding a healthy relationship that gives you the room you need to grow also requires you better yourself.

The end goal of yoga is joining with the divine. This requires lifetimes of practice and preparation. Our desire for a spiritual partner should be no different; the goal here is to merge with another, to join with one another and traverse the spiritual path together. This also needs practice and preparation.

This practice is not of being a unicorn hunter, but first becoming the unicorn. To find the partner we seek, we must become the partner we want.

This article was originally published in Yoganonymous on April 23rd, 2013