Dr. Kristen Hick recently brought us dating advice based on the five yamas. Now, we can explore the five niyamas for better self-care and (in turn) better dating.
Wouldn’t dating be easier if we all followed the same set of guiding principles?
In The Yoga of Dating: The 5 Yamas, I discussed the importance of using yoga—not just the practice of mentally and physically challenging postures—but the life practice of yoga to guide your approach to dating others.
Now wouldn’t this make the somewhat scary, anxiety-provoking, yet exciting process of dating a little more palatable? I think so.
For those of you a little rusty on your Yoga History, let’s do a short review. There are eight limbs of yoga (or yoga sutras) outlined by Patanjali nearly 1,700 years ago, later translated by Sri Swami Satchidananda. These eight limbs outline a moral code of conduct, principles of health, and spirituality.
The eight limbs 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). (The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali)
So, how does dating relate to yoga, you ask?
Niyamas of Yoga and Dating
The five niyamas outline the principles in which how we should treat ourselves.
Remember what I said about wanting a set of rules to guide dating experiences? Not only would it benefit you to adhere to the five yamas (how to treat others), but to date well, you need to be a good date. To do so, it is helpful to be in right mental space to date.
The Five Niyamas of Dating
Purity. What is the first thing people typically do to prepare for a date? You got it—most people get their hair cut, nails done and pick out an outfit that will best flatter their assets. Don’t get me wrong, showing up with horrific body odor and in your comfy pajamas will not help your case. But, it’s vital to get your head in the “game” of dating by doing work on your spirit first.
Observing Saucha means two things. First, Saucha refers to looking beyond one’s impure bodily form, which gets played out by attending more to physical attraction and physical intimacy, than focusing on the attraction of two souls.
Saucha also means that you take more time to prepare your mind and spirit than your body. Purifying yourself of troublesome habits and unhealthy emotions will help you become open to attracting the right kind of partner.
Contentment. If I were to ask anyone reading this piece at this very moment, I would predict that at least 99% of you are seeking, desiring, even yearning to find that special someone. The truth is, you can do all the preparation in the world, and it just may not be the right time. I know; this is a hard one to sit with.
Patanjali teaches us that we must be content, being “as we are, without going to outside things for happiness.” Contentment comes from seeking and feeling happiness from within, regardless of what is outside. When something—or in this case, a special someone—comes into our sphere, we invite it in. While this may bring you more happiness, it must still come from within, first and foremost.
Accepting pain. Unfortunately, and fortunately, pain is part of the dating process. Dating can be a nasty cocktail of let down, hurt, and frustration.
But recall me saying, “Fortunately pain is part of the process?” In yoga, pain is a part of the process. Patanjali teaches us to accept this pain—wait for it—as a gift. Yes, I said, “A gift.”
Accepting pain as a blessing is a radical shift you can make to transform your perspective. In almost every case, when something doesn’t work out with someone, you look back (sometimes years later) and can see that it wasn’t meant to be. And, you learned something about yourself and about relationships in the meantime.
Study. If my case work, research and experiences have taught me anything, it’s that knowing how to be in a relationship—how to treat yourself and someone else well in a relationship—does not happen without intense study and reflection.
Your studying began long before you thought about dating. It began as you watched your parents interact with one another. Think—what did you learn about relationships from your parents? What do you want to unlearn? What do you want to carry with you?
As an adult, you continued to learn from observing others’ relationships—your family, friends and coworkers—and now have a library full of relationship studies under your belt.
But the work doesn’t stop there. For many, studying further—through therapy, reading, meditation, prayer—helps people continue to grow in their ability to be in relation to others.
Self-surrender. My work is dedicated to helping people surrender their fears and related defense mechanisms in order to attract healthy relationships and to develop healthier ways of relating to partners.
Svadhyaya (study) leads you to know what your fears and defenses are. Once realized, humbling yourself not to use those old and unhelpful dynamics will help you immensely. Surrendering to the dating process allows you remain open and undefended to what may come up. So, try allowing your walls to come down and see what doors open up for you.
The five Niyamas teach us that to optimize our dating experiences, we must all agree to prepare ourselves through purity, contentment, accepting pain, studying, and surrendering to the process. Together, the five yamas and niyamas of yoga will transform yourself and your dating experiences.
For more on the Yoga of Dating:
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 Robert Bejil on flickr]