By Alison Feller
When Lyons Den opened its doors in November 2013, there were immediately quite a few “regulars.” Two of them were Michelle Swiatkowski and Andrew Bass. Michelle and Andrew—both now instructors at The Den—met on the mat. And eventually they talked to each other, which led to them spending time together beyond the studio, which led to a first kiss, and an eventual “I love you.” And on March 6, Michelle and Andrew got engaged! We are so excited to share their full love story here. (And hey, next time you catch eyes with that cute yogi a few mats down, strike up a conversation after class—love is in the air at The Den!)
We know you two met at The Den—who sparked the first conversation?
Andrew: I remember one day I arrived early for class, and Michelle set her mat up right behind me, so I just turned around and started talking to her.
Michelle: I was talking to someone about attending Baptiste Level 3 training the following week, and Andrew chimed in that he had attended Level 1 earlier that year.
What were your first impressions of each other?
Andrew: I thought she was nice, and she was definitely a yogi. There was a part of me that thought she may be a bit of a “yoga snob”—after we first met, she continued to set up her mat away from mine…even when we were the only two people in the room!
Michelle: I thought, “This guy is cute, he wants to talk to me, and he’s at yoga all the time. Score!” The more I talked to him, the more I realized I had a crush on him. Soon I started to get nervous when I saw him before class, and one day I remember him being the only one in the room, but I was too nervous to talk to my crush, so I put my mat kind of far from him. That made it awkward!
Tell us about the first date.
Andrew: She asked me out on Facebook! We planned to have a pre-game drink or two before the Super Bowl, but we ended up getting dinner and staying out together until way after the game ended.
Michelle: Our first date was after Sunday Service at The Den! We went to Coffee Shop in Union Square, drank Malbec, missed the entire Super Bowl, went next door for noodles, and—five hours later—Andrew walked me home.
And the first kiss?
Andrew: It was on our second date, at a bar in the East Village. I figured I should make the first move since she asked me out.
What’s it like both being teachers at Lyons Den?
Andrew: We take each other’s classes and provide feedback. Being in a relationship, taking constructive criticism from Michelle has taken some getting used to on my part. There’s no logical reason for that! It’s a story in my head that I need to let go of.
Michelle: I love having Andrew in class! He takes nearly every class I teach, and is the most supportive man ever. I take his class, too, but not as often as I would like—by Wednesdays at 8 PM, I’m tired!
Do you practice together at home? We imagine you two waking up in the morning and doing sun salutations together in your PJs¬—yes?
Andrew: I’ve sat on the couch and watched TV while Michelle has done a home practice…does that count?
Andrew, when did you know you were going to propose?
Andrew: I had tentative plans as far back as November. It became real when I went home to Ohio with her for Christmas and asked her family if they wanted to be involved in the engagement surprise. Once her mom said yes and told me what weekends worked, it became real for me! Then the plan all came together pretty quickly. We picked the date—March 6—and they quickly arranged flights. And my family came in from New Jersey and Boston. I wanted to come up with a way to propose that would allow for us to be by ourselves when it happened—before we met up with our families—so I thought of doing it in a limo. I figured Michelle would see the proposal coming once she saw the limo, but the families being there would be the real surprise.
Michelle, did you see it coming?
Michelle: I had no idea! We had plans to go out to dinner after my 6:15 yoga class. Like a normal Friday night dinner. I took my time getting ready and talking to students after class, and eventually Andrew said we needed to leave. We walked out and I started walking to get a cab when he pulled me toward a limo that was waiting on the street. He said we were taking that car!
Once we were on our way, he pulled a ring out of his pocket, and I was excited and confused. Were we getting engaged or going out to dinner?! I shouted, “Yes!” Then I had lots of questions!
About 10 minutes later, Andrew and the driver got out of the limo, and I was wondering what was going on. I looked at the ring, realized my hair was in the same sweaty ball it was in during class, and realized I had no idea what to do or what was going on. A few minutes later, he got back in and a whole crowd of people with giant posters stood outside the door: my entire family and Andrew’s dad! I had no clue! My nieces had bouquets of flowers and my step-dad started pouring champagne. I was shaking, in total shock.
When we arrived at dinner, Andrew said something to the limo driver, and I heard him say his name: George. I immediately started crying. My dad, who passed away 10 years ago, was also named George. It was too coincidental. At that moment, everything felt right and perfect and exactly as it should be.
Tell us about the ring!
Michelle: It’s beautiful! I find myself catching its sparkles often during the day. I love that Andrew took the time to pick it out. And I can’t believe it was hiding in a drawer in his apartment for weeks!
Andrew: It’s insured.
Want to see the ring—and all the infectious happiness—in person? Go take class with Andrew or Michelle!