Can I Have Sex With My Yoga Teacher?


Yes - of course you can have sex with your yoga teacher. You can have sex with who ever you want to. You are an adult, with full agency, and freedom to choose for yourself what you need, and want. Freedom of choice and responsibility for that choice is what in fact implies adulthood. What is not so fun about adulthood is managing poor choices, unmet expectations and disappoints in our lives. And there is no place we make up more shit around our disappointments than in our relationships.

So is an intimate relationship between two consenting adults in a teacher student dynamic complex? Yes. Is it morally or ethically wrong? No. And here's why. 


Before I met my wife, most every woman that I have ever been in an adult relationship with, I met doing what I love, and feel most passionate about, teaching. Many of my relationships, and my amazing marriage are the result of relationships with women who I met in the yoga, martial arts community, or in my class. This for many people is unethical, unfair, and unbalanced. I see it very differently. Each relationship is unique in regard to its balance, fairness and ethics. The context of a relationship does not determine its merits, but rather the qualities of the individuals operating within it. My partners were not vulnerable or weak women seeking refuge or healing. They were on the contrary intelligent, capable and powerful consenting adults who made a choice. This essay is offered as an examination of the pro-choice position, and hopes to expose the obvious fact that two consenting adults should have the freedom to exercise personal choices without judgement or condemnation. 

First, suggesting that a consenting adult teacher/student relationship, in any field of study, is social, ethical or even criminal misconduct, is a social opinion, not a demonstrable fact. Only when one person has control over another person's financial future or physical well-being is there even an observable power differential. Social opinion is simply not enough to warrant policing people. It was quite resent that social opinion suggested that black people and women were inferior, and should be subordinate to the white men - so I do not use social opinion as a moral compass. Second, this is a conversation about adults’ personal liberties - NOT rape, sexual exploitation, criminal misconduct, or financial manipulation. No, this is about two consenting adults choosing to interact intimately absent of any leviable power differential other than the title of student and teacher.  


Pro-choice does not imply the abuse or mistreatment of another person. It implies the right to exercise personal liberties on the part of consenting adults. I do not support or promote exploitation of women or men, as students or teachers. I do not support the use of a yoga classroom as a space to seek out sexual partners. It is not, and should not be. Engaging a person sexually, in a deceiving way, is contradictory to all ethics I uphold. Using authority or power for personal gain is in stark contrast to transparency, honesty and consideration of others. I also believe it is absolutely safe and ethical for consenting adults in modern yoga environments to date. Why? Because these same consenting adults can die in war, procreate, and vote. The suggestion that they are competent only until, they enter a classroom, stretch their bodies, and consider that they may be more than a permanent physical manifestation, is contradictory to high standards of reason. 

As a teacher and a student, I emphatically support the freedom to exercise my personal judgment and ethics, as long as they include the careful consideration of others. I also strongly support any yogi who has a personal policy that restricts themselves from dating another consenting adult student or teacher. And I remind both parties to mind your own business. It is not either parties place to manage, police or judge the other. 

Adult students can and do assign meanings to experiences they are having with adult teachers in any field of study, i.e., linking their improved state of mind to the teacher. This projection or transference of feeling onto a person due to circumstances, means that caution and care must be taken by both parties to be clear. And least we not overlook the indisputable point that projection of feelings onto people who inspire us, occurs under numerous uncontrollable conditions.


The Yoga classroom environment has changed to include different styles, props, and women, as they were once forbidden to participate. The relationship between teacher and student has changed in the west from “guru”, to “certified teacher.” Western teachers instruct and offer knowledge, juxtapositioned with eastern gurus who took on disciples and followers. Traditional Indian cultural values, which promote cast systems, restrictive gender roles, religious ideologies, and guru worship, do not work in the west. Making policy for modern western yoga using transitional Indian yoga values, simply does not work. Orthodox yoga practitioners, who strictly adhere to lineage ideologies, should be respected, as they should respect those who choose an unorthodox approach to yoga.  There is space for everyone's views and practices. But suggesting that the yogic path looks one way is foolishness, as the yogic process itself is conceptual, perceptual, and subjective in every way.  


The yoga sutras, considered the yoga bible by orthodox and more religious yoga practitioners, contain important and relevant philosophy that transcend time and culture. One specific guideline is restraint from sense driven living. It clearly serves the common good when people are not purely sense driven, yet we are all driven by the urge to be safe, loved and accepted. The problem stems from one yoga practitioner assuming they can judge another person's actions as right or wrong. Drinking a glass of wine, eating good food, being socially accepted, and making love, all stem from senses. There is clearly a time and place for all urges and senses including sex. I personally see the classroom as a place to practice humanity, discernment, and joy. I do not see it as a place to act on sexual urges, but it is unreasonable to suggest that sexual energy is absent within a classroom as people are intrinsically sexual.  

I do however believe that consenting adults, in western yoga classrooms, have the right to conduct their private lives, including intimate relationships, outside of the classroom without interference and judgment. Adults need to learn to be competent students by discontinuing blind devotion of teachers, projection of accountability, and seeking outside of themselves for ethical and moral guidance. I argue that we do not need a book, a law, or a


People are attracted to skill, talent, and charisma inside or outside of a yoga class. If the teacher or student possess these qualities they are naturally going to be attractive. A musician, dancer, lecturer, or an artist performing can inspire the same feelings that a dynamic teacher can. All are provoking emotion and feeling. I am personally attracted to anyone who is skilled at their craft. 

However, attraction does cause me to lose sight and application of my personal ethics and values. These are however, my ethics and values, and should not be adopted by anyone. As independent agents operating without force or pressure due to career or financial consequences, an adult teacher and adult student are fully capable and accountable individuals. 

Also, I believe if a female yoga teacher were attracted to a male student, there would be much less biased proposed, as there would be an assumption that the male would have enough sexual agency to resist his teachers advances. Also, suggesting that a female student cannot engage a male teacher with as much competency as a man, discredits the intellectual and emotional power of all women.


When you deconstruct the differences between the “yoga guru”, and the “certified yoga instructor,” you find stark contrasts that many people are simply collapsing into one archetype. The guru model clearly demonstrates several problematic power differentials. In order to have a yoga guru, a student must seek a religious teacher, surrendered to his or her authority, and be initiated into a specific discipline. Sex or Intimate relationship between these two suggests a complex dynamic to say the least. I believe it would be extremely difficult for the student to see the guru as an equal in or out of the yoga classroom.

The western yoga teacher, in contrast, is holding a casual space for people to come and go, with no commitment, or agreed religious or spiritual discipleship. Yoga certainly implies general spirituality, but this does not suggest people are in danger because they can date in this environment. Gurus or teachers dating students carries a high risk of conflict of interests. However, whether you or I agree to its merits, there is no controlling consenting adults intimately engaging one another. In fact, partners meeting in yoga class is quite common.

Also, I recognize that some men see women as sexual objects and not as people. Some men behave in a manor that travels the scale from disrespectful to criminal. That however, cannot be controlled by policing a yoga class, but rather by teaching yoga practitioners to cultivate self awareness in order to develop intelligent ethics and values. When students stop seeking a spiritual leader to follow blindly, and teachers stop encouraging discipleship, things will inevitably change. 


Western yoga teachers must stop trying to play the role of guru, enlightened being, or one who possess a commodity on truth. We don’t. We are as limited, challenged and deep in it as our “students”. In most cases we are the ones with the greatest pain, seeking hardest for the answers. Students need to stop believing that teachers possess something they do not. A true teacher is always guiding you back to your own universal wisdom and truth, which we are all endowed with. We have nothing special to offer, other than being able to ask questions that further and ultimately direct you back to yourself. 

Only when teachers stop encouraging co-dependent followers, by providing them with answers, and start cultivating independent thinkers and competent yoga practitioners will people be relatively safe from each other, in a yoga class.

Fake Yoga Teachers

Recently I received a question from a teacher: 

“I have just finished my teacher training and I am reluctant to teach yet because I feel like a fraud... And your posts make me feel even more like a fraud!! Who am I to teach yoga? I mean who is anyone to teach it right? I really enjoy your posts they are great! So... I would love some advice.”

Who is anyone to teach yoga? 

The first obstacle in the way of teaching yoga, zen, or martial arts, is thinking that these are more than concepts. Yes, a person's concept of yoga or martial arts can be taught, but what these arts are designed to reveal, is unteachable. All we can ever share is a process, not the outcome. When we stop all the doing, selling, and talking about yoga, we realize that yoga simply IS whatever we find over and over again. It is impossible to spot a yogi, or yoga, or yogic action. We can spot a person doing things we individually believe are yogic or non yogic, but this would be missing the point of conception. 

All identifications such as yogi, teacher, guru, and student are concepts of the temporary mind. Modern yoga movement classes, are simply movement classes that try to sell society the concept that this is in fact yoga. Some agree, some disagree. Society depends on agreed perceptual conception. We all agree that a red light is in fact a red light, and so we stop. if we didn't it would be chaos on the roads. Yet philosophies such as yoga, zen and martial arts, are just that - philosophie. They require the student to stay in a constant state of curiosity, and inquiry. They reach no permanent conclusions. So we must first discontinue the act of "teaching" yoga as an externalized product, when in fact it is a process of internal inquiry. 

The second obstacle in the way of teaching, is me. And by me I mean the egoic, impermanent, false me, in the form of, I am this, or I am that. I am a teacher, I am student. I am a man, I am a woman. This is only a temporary concept of me. This me is easily convinced, and persuaded this way and that. Believing in this one day, and that the next. Behind this temporary ever changing material construct lies the energy that animates all matter. So the very question of who am I to teach anything, is simply answered by first realizing who is the I that teaches? 

If “I” is not the mind (perception & conception) then what is left when all perception and concepts cease? Only the permanent energy that animates the impermanent material world . 

There is no need for teachers or students. Teacher implies one who knows more, and student implies one who knows less, but knows what? Information, data, concepts, which change all the time, useful one day, and useless the next. The only thing worth knowing is I am. Everything else we see, and believe, are fluctuations of the mental state. So in the relative sense, my perception can teach your perception temporary knowledge. So the real gift is in sharing the knowledge that the body is temporary, and all of the bodies problems are temporary. The permanent you has no problems. 

In the relative sense there is very much the concept of “me” teaching “you”. 

In relative terms this simply means that my personality and brain are going to share something with your personality and brain. This is a fine relationship, but it has several natural problems. One is that teaching is only possible if there is a willingness to learn by someone else. A transmitter is only transmitting when there is a receiver. An essential outside force (student) acting upon the origin of action (teacher) to give it this identity. In simple terms without the student, the teacher cannot act as a teacher at all, as teaching requires studentship. This means that the student makes or creates the concept of teacher in their own mind, leaving the reality that one cannot call oneself a teacher without having someone refer to themselves as that teachers student. 

So we are only teachers in our minds, or in the minds of our student. This self appointed identification, like all identifications, becomes a trap. 

This relationship is co-created by both parties. Just as money is worth what we collectively agree it's worth - so is a teacher to a student. And we all know, we just plainly make that up it's worth as we go. And so we make up that our teachers are failing or mistreating us. Or that our students are burdening, or disappointing us. Or that either party is responsible for the other parties happiness, or progression. 

If we are going to free the student and ourselves from these concepts or identities, we first have to stop encouraging their creation. 

You can not teach a person anything. You can only inspire a willingness to learn. And to that what unfolds has been inside all along. You moving one object from here to there, and showing another person how to do this, is in fact sharing. Sharing information, knowledge, and understanding, are all parts of a natural urge in apes. Which is how we made it to this point. The identification of one person as a teacher, and the other as a student, is how the human brain complicated what was once a process of singular awareness, into an experience of duality and individualism. These new found identities, and our ability to see into past, present and future all create confusion through unmet expectations, and interrupted intentions on a daily basis. 

Why do I teach? 

First, it took me almost 30 years of “teaching”, to answer this, but not without plenty of internal and external conflict along the way. My first answer, was for the benefit of humanity. After that was properly kicked out of me by the realization that humanity doesn’t need me, I came at it again. This time it was to benefit myself. Much closer, but still this concept supposed that I could still act upon humanity, regardless of who it was benefiting, or who was cooperating. Then I arrived at I teach because it is natural for me to do so. This got me out of me, me, me, but it continued the concept that I could in fact teach something by acting upon it. That I was still able to do something to, or for someone else. It was not until the final stage of my personal journey that I arrived at the realization of “I am”.  

What I learned from “I am” is that I don't in fact teach anything. I share things. 

What is the difference? Teachers need students, and as a result develop attachments. Sharing in contrast, has no attachment to outcome, or expectation of reciprocity. Does this mean that there are no structures or agreements between someone sharing something with another? No. You can exchange time, wealth, and objects. However, neither party in the relationship needs anything from the other. There is an exchange bereft of expectation or attachment to outcome. Neither party is in charge of the others destiny, fait, or wellbeing. Some may argue that this would disrupt social norms formed around these concepts, and that they would prove failures to the learning environment. But I see that they allow for freedom of real learning as I feel no pressure, or obligation to behave any other way that honestly. I give them what I have to give, absent of the pressure to have all the answers. I love them with all the love I have, without needing them to stay or go. I correct them with transparency and directness, without being concerned about loosing their business. I interact with them as an equal, rather than feeling the need to be in charge of there destiny. 

What do I share? 

Simply share yoga and zen as there are - nothing but questions, and more questions. Sure you can share the process of yoga as defined by lineages, but these are concepts that come and go. I exist before, and after the body, the memories, the senses, the beliefs. Share the space for people to sit and ask the question “who am I?” Share the message that, “I am,” so that attachment to, I am this, and I am that, dissolve and with them suffering.  When we see the difference between what is permanent and what is temporary, all suffering ceases to be. 

So to answer your question, “who is anyone to teach yoga?” My answer is no one. Simply educate by asking questions, not by having answers. 

Photo by: Pete Longworth ( www.petelongworth.com )