There it is: your eyes meet, the skin flushes, smiles spreads across both of your faces. You exchange awkward ‘hellos’ and bump into one another as you leave work, the yoga studio, the stairwell in your apartment building—wherever it is you met.
Before you know it, you’re on your first date with someone intelligent, witty, funny, and very attractive. Congratulations.
The date goes well; there’s definite chemistry. After a sweet kiss good night, you head home, close the door, and smile to yourself.
Then, monkey brain kicks in.
"Did he really like me?"
“Oh gosh, I talked a whole lot.”
“What if she doesn’t like my friends?”
“What if our schedules aren’t totally compatible?”
The rules, games, and pretenses of the dating scene can drive us crazy.
Good news—yoga is here to rescue you from your dating apprehensions. So take a deep ujjayi breath, and see how yoga can turn dating into an enjoyable adventure.
1. Stay True to Yourself.
Because he or she may enjoy a lot of things unfamiliar to you, this is easier said than done. Poker league...That’s a thing? What the heck is kimchi? Underwater aerobics? How do you practice pranayama through a snorkel?
Relax! We are each the sum of our own experiences, and so you both have had different lifestyles up to this point in meeting. This is a beautiful thing that deserves to be embraced.
Modifying your behavior to fit an idea of what you think the other person might be looking for is a disservice to both of you. You don’t know what the other person wants, so trying to fit a mold that might not even exist can spell disaster.
Start things off with a true image of yourself and stick to it. When asked about your experiences, choose ones you’re passionate about and that you can share in a positive light. Showcase what makes you unique.
If this person doesn’t enjoy these things about you, it’s best to find out early on. The shield and the mask have to come down eventually if this gets good, right?
If you’ve never had kimchi or tried underwater aerobics, that’s okay. Share what you have done and be open to learning from this person and their experiences.
You can both broaden each other’s horizons, but only if you’re authentic and honest. Shine your light, because your light is special.
2. Enjoy the Process.
It’s easy to attach to time frames in dating—after all, we’ve been conditioned to do it in every other aspect of life. From grade school to college, from dentist’s appointments to our career paths, we’ve been setting timestamps, milestones, and deadlines.
This can complicate the heart space though, so it’s best to leave time out of a fresh romance. If you find yourself wondering if the first kiss should happen on dates 1, 2, or 3, or if five weeks is enough time to justify meeting the friends, however, you’re already slipping down the slope.
Let the process unfold on its own, and enjoy every little step along the way.
When two hearts collide, it’s a big deal.
This process is magical, unique, and miraculous, yet we often treat it like it’s a college semester: placing “first kiss,” “use the L-word,” and “meets mom” on an imaginary calendar, then getting frustrated when these things don’t happen as planned.
Celebrate each moment and practice staying in awe of each other. You’re given this opportunity to learn about a new person, to share yourself, and to have someone share him or herself with you.
Perhaps this person is The One; maybe this person winds up being a best friend—no one knows this early on. Let things unfold naturally. If you’re staying true to yourself, this should happen with ease.
Enjoy the process and the journey, not attaching to agendas or made-up timeframes.
3. Step Into Love
When we stay true to ourselves and enjoy the process, we are primed and open to step into love.
Still, we have a natural tendency to make excuses for why a relationship couldn’t possibly fit into our lives in this very moment.
It’s a defense mechanism: we play the part of being too busy or uninterested so we won’t get hurt. This is fear creeping up on us.
Shift your focus to what’s right with the situation.
My best friend and soul-sister Kathryn Budig put it simply when I recently found myself justifying why a new relationship wasn’t going to work.
I went on and on about how I really enjoyed this person, but my schedule was too packed, my head wasn’t in the right place, and I wasn’t sure if we both wanted the same things in life.
Hearing enough, Kathryn cut me off mid-sentence. “Stop creating stories! There is always, always time for love. If you like each other, you need to go for it.”
She was right. I had listed all of the reasons why it couldn’t work because I was too afraid of it actually working, and then getting hurt.
There’s far more to lose from staying closed off and avoiding human connection, than there is from stepping into love and perhaps later realizing that it won’t work out.
Practice staying open, and notice when you tend to shy away or recoil. Then, flip these tendencies around and give budding romance the chance to grow.
Focus on how the other person makes you feel and on the sparks flying. Just like the physical asana practice— love is never about how it looks, and always about how it feels.
The dating scene is never easy, and potholes and speed bumps are simply part of the ride. Fortunately as yogis, we have a special set of tools to use in all situations—dating included. If yoga has taught us anything, it’s to be authentic, enjoy the moment, and that there is always room for love. Shine on.