The blind date. It’s either a blessing or a curse. In the case of Tess Ghilaga and Todd Aydelotte, it was a situation of “opposites detract”—until he used yoga to impress her.
“He’s a very WASP-y, uptight guy and I’m more like the peace, love, and Grateful Dead kind of girl,” says Ghilaga, 39. When they first met, Aydelotte, 38 and now CEO of Ricochet Public Relations in New York City, was a pack-a-day smoker who “ate lots of horrible food all day long,” and Ghilaga was a self-described yoga-instructing, meditating vegetarian.
“When I showed up on the first date she was just stunning and super cool and I just had nothing in common with her,” Aydelotte says.
So before their next date, Aydelotte took his first yoga class. “I went to get material to talk about and I just got my butt kicked. My whole body was shaking and I was drenched in sweat. Forget about touching my toes, I couldn’t touch my knees,” Aydelotte says.
“He’s an all-or-nothing kind of guy but he was completely mortified after his first class,” Ghilaga says. His soreness afterwards gave them a topic to talk about—“the fact that I could no longer walk,” says Aydelotte.
Pretty soon, yoga wasn’t purely about getting the girl. “He started seeing benefits for himself because he’s very intense,” she says. Yoga helped Aydelotte calm down from his normally “amped up,” stressful lifestyle, especially at work, Ghilaga says. “Yoga allows him the release in life that he needs.” A month later, he quit smoking and was up to practicing yoga five days a week.
After a year of dating that included a retreat at the Omega Institute—and a wardrobe overhaul for Aydelotte because of his newly trim waistline—the two were engaged and married in September 1999.
“It was really fantastic for us as a couple to come together over yoga,” Aydelotte says. “It slows you down, helps you appreciate things day by day, your love, your life. Yoga helps you tap into these core things and building a relationship around that is a great thing.”
For Ghilaga, yoga helps them stay in the moment. “It definitely keeps stress down. You don’t get caught up worrying about things and can let things go if we have an argument,” she says.