in: Dating & Relationships

The Yoga of Dating: The 5 Yamas

For many yogis, The Five Yamas are guidelines for a life well-lived. In a fortuitous twist, they also serve as a pretty comprehensive protocol for dating.

This article is part of Dr. Hick’s Yoga of Dating series; find Part II here and Part III here.

Have you ever wished someone would outline a few universal rules for dating? Rules that made the exciting, nerve-racking, fun-but-mysterious process of dating a little more clearly defined? A set of rules that others were sworn by oath to follow in order to gain clearance to ask that certain someone out on a date?

If so, you’re not alone. A set of rules would likely make the process more enjoyable and less confusing and disappointing, at least in some ways.

Rules to Practice

Just as physicians take a Hippocratic oath and psychologists follow certain ethical principles, yogis (practitioners of yoga) also hold to a philosophy or principles which guide their practice. 

As a yogi might tell you, yoga doesn’t just happen on the yoga mat. From what I am learning as an amateur yogi, yoga happens with every breath one takes. Yoga is a life practice, a way of being in the world—physically as well as emotionally, spiritually and socially.

As one of yoga’s early founders, Patanjali, outlined nearly 1,700 years ago, there are eight limbs to the path of yoga, which together are called Yoga Sutra. These eight limbs outline a moral code of conduct, principles of health and spirituality. The eight sutras include, Yama (abstinence or treatment of others), Niyama (observance or treatment of self), Asana (postures), Pranyama (breath control), Pratyahara (turning awareness inside), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (contemplation, absorption or super-conscious state).  

Well, fine and dandy. But how does yoga relate to dating, you might ask? 

Yoga and Dating

All of the limbs relate to dating in some fashion, but the first in this series will focus on the first of the eight limbs: Yama.

The five yamas outline the principles in which how people should treat others. They are often compared to the “Golden Rule”—you know, the rule you were taught in grade school when you stole your classmate’s pencil and then wondered why he stole your eraser the next week? Treat others as you would want to be treated.

Dating rules should start with none other than you, and how you treat others. Want a better dating experience? Starting by following the five yamas.

The Five Yamas of Dating

1. Ahimsa – Not Causing Pain

This yama pertains to being kind to others, showing them compassion and not acting in harmful ways. 

Kindness in dating means acting in ways that would not be hurtful (e.g., standing a date up, not returning a call/text, or cancelling last minute). Ahimsa is also about suspending judgment (e.g., criticizing the plans your date made, judging his/her profession, lifestyle, relationships, or appearance). This doesn’t mean you have to continue to date this person if these characteristics don’t suit your fancy, but resist the urge to judge too quickly. Lastly, (which should be obvious) a date should never involve any sort of emotional, sexual, or physical harm. 

2. Satya – Truthfulness

This one goes a long way in dating. If you don’t like sushi and your date asks you if you want sushi, say so. Dates usually ask ahead of time to test the waters. They would rather have you pleased with their idea and know you are enjoying yourself than find out you said “yes” when you really meant, “not so much.”

It also means you speak honestly regarding your interest in that person. If you aren’t interested in him/her, say so (nicely of course). If you are a serial, fall-off-the-face-of-the-Earth-without-an-explanation kind of dater, I encourage you to try communicating, in person, by phone or text (in some cases), that you simply don’t think it’s a good match. Believe me, doing so will lead them to respect you and your word. Good date kharma results. 

3. Asteya – Non-Stealing

In date-speak, this means that the object of the dating game is not to steal someone’s heart, cash, body (or sex), friends, or life. So often people go into dating thinking, “What can I gain from this?” If you start here, you have already lost. 

Not stealing also means you avoid misleading the other person in regards to your intentions, character, qualities, and preferences. Remember your mother telling you that not telling the truth is the same as lying? The same applies to dating; be honest about yourself and your intentions.

4. Brahmacharya – Delay Gratification

I know, you didn’t want to hear this, but delaying gratification for the betterment of the growing relationship is ideal. In yoga, the storing of energy is immensely useful to being able to sustain postures. Releasing that energy prematurely impedes one’s practice. 

In dating this may mean delaying physical intimacy, finding out everything there is to know about a person, disclosing all of your deepest, darkest secrets, or jumping to integrate him/her into your life before the time is right. Like yoga, dating is a process and takes patience, dedication, and strength of body and mind to achieve optimal results. 

5. Aparigraha – Non-Covetousness

I know, long word, right? It means do not covet thy neighbor’s things. In yoga, it means do not take, hoard, or collect what you do not need. This can mean two things in dating. First, it means if you are just dating to validate yourself, have a meal bought for you, or to get laid, you are taking what you do not need from your date. 

Second, and perhaps more important, it means the objective of dating is to give, not take—anything. Think about what you can give to this developing relationship. If you come from a place of giving, you are more likely to receive from a partner— ten-fold. 

There’s a wide range of dating philosophies out there. Some fair better; some are likely leading to even more confusion and frustration than dating typically warrants. The five yamas of yoga provide some guiding principles to approach your next dating adventure. 

For more on the Yoga of Dating: 

The Yoga of Dating (Part II): The 5 Niyamas

The Yoga of Dating (Part III): Asana – Date Worthy Postures


Satchidananda, S. (1978). The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. (Patanjali, Trans.).  Buckingham, BA: Satchidananda Ashram – Yogaville. (Original work written 5,000 BC to 300 AD) 

[image: via neonow on flickr]

About the Author:

Kristen Hick

Kristen Hick, Psy.D. is a Clinical Psychologist who specializes in the area of awakened dating and healthy relationships. She is the founder of Center for Shared Insight, a private psychotherapy practice in Denver where she and her clients focus on Individual Relationship Therapy. Dr. Hick’s expertise lies in helping individuals create healthy, meaningful, and loving relationships with others through healing, strengthening and transforming their most essential relationship, with themselves. When not helping clients fulfill their personal relationship goals, she enjoys the Colorado outdoors, capturing life through photography, practicing yoga and hopes to one day manage her first unassisted headstand. You can connect with Dr. Hick on her site, Facebook or Google+


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