The Yamas & One-Night Stands: A Yogi Perspective on Sex

I’ve always been the girl who felt uncomfortable with one-night stands.

But being a single, adult female, I quickly learned that my standards of needing a relationship before sex were, well, old-school. Not putting out within the first three dates is a guaranteed way to not hear back from a potential mate. Instead of giving into society’s new norm of casual sex, I found another way to feel fulfilled and still play the game of adult dating.

Now, sometimes casual sex is great. (Okay, a lot of the time.) But dating in my early 20s is a scary, muddy puddle that I’m supposed to just know how to swim. Naturally.

After a few bad fish, I had to ask myself, “How can I get what I want and still make sure I leave the other person better than I found them and without compromising my true feelings?”

As a yoga teacher, I use the eight limb path of yoga as general life guidelines. The yamas are the ethical principles that detail how to show up and play our part in life.

The yamas are:

>> Do no harm
>> Do not lie
>> Do not steal
>> Do not waste
>> Do not hoard

Sounds a little familiar, huh?

On the surface, they seem clear. It’s important to not lie or steal—we’ve all been told that. But when we look at these rules as a reference on how we approach the subject of sex, we can use them to make it better. So much better.

1. Do no harm. Live life without hurting anyone and we’re good, right? Well, we’re halfway there. We need to treat every single person with compassion, even a potential date. That includes how we talk to them, about them, and how we think of them. Our thoughts can be little judges with loud voices and they shape our interpretation of people and events. Though they may be little, they have an influence on our behavior.

We have all heard the tales of the woman scorned and how she struck revenge on the guy who never called her back. I have too many of my own stories like that, I’m ashamed to admit. I can’t count on all of my fingers or toes the times I have treated a man poorly in my thoughts. I would find myself degrading and cursing a man who didn’t make me a priority right away. But I’d always end up angry and miserable—not them.

I was the one suffering for how I interpreted their behavior and I let it eat me alive. Then, I would turn my anger toward them and want to make them feel as low as I did. In my mind, it was all their fault.

When we only see the worst and expect to find happiness from it, it’s a losing battle before we even begin.

2. Do not lie. Only speaking the truth seems easy, but looking through the lens of dating, it’s a little harder to live out. Speaking the truth means literally speaking your truth. Not in a way to hurt someone (do no harm), but instead saying exactly how we feel. That includes putting up boundaries when necessary.

Living this out meant I needed to stop people pleasing and put my foot down when the situation wasn’t serving me any longer. Pity dating is a thing, and we don’t want that. Sleeping with people because we feel obligated is another.

I’ve caught myself on multiple occasions dreading turning down a man, to only find myself still accommodating this guy who never should’ve gotten a second date in the first place. Sometimes, we put up with people to avoid hurting them, but who we really hurt is ourselves. We’re lying to them when we make them believe we’re interested, when in reality, we’re waiting for the perfect opportunity to cut ties and bail.

If we live true to ourselves, we won’t be burdened with regret because we won’t let anyone step over our boundaries without being invited in.

3. Do not steal. This isn’t only rooted in the physical realm, it also includes the time and attention of another human. Demanding another’s time when it isn’t freely given to us is stealing. An example is requesting a date one night with the assumption that they would rearrange their schedule for us, and if they didn’t, throwing a fit including a top-notch guilt trip.

Making another human feel bad that they can’t bend to our will at any given time is stealing.

When sex wasn’t freely given to me, I was upset. I would stomp my feet, demand a reason why, and not give up until my partner would concede. Thinking about it now makes my stomach churn. I stole their time and attention when it wasn’t offered to me for my own pleasure. I wasn’t honoring them.

I can tell you, I never left the next morning feeling good. Instead of assuming that sex was mine for the taking with anyone who was interested in me, now I wait until it’s freely offered to me. When sex is freely offered, I can now gladly accept (if I wish) and enjoy the connection. We are capable of putting an end to the shame cycle when we only take what’s given and only give when we want to as well.

Sex is for pleasure and should be treated as a gift, not an expectation.

4. Do not waste. Becoming aware of how and when we use our energy is the first step to understanding how we efficiently waste it. Do we use our energy actively pursuing a man to get him in bed? How many times have we found ourselves stalking a potential date and trying to fit the puzzle pieces together to answer why they haven’t texted us back yet?

How often do we waste our sexual energy because we think it has been too long since we were last intimate and end up giving it up for a one night fling?

I have spent hours, days, and even years of my life focusing on a guy who was clearly not right for me. I would spend my time figuring out what a man wanted and how I could deliver because I needed the attention—and a good lay. I thought I would be fulfilled if I spent the night with the bad boy unworthy of my heart.

When we use sex to connect with someone, we are using our sexual energy correctly. Controlling our lust leads to sexual fulfillment. Sex won’t feel like a need anymore—it’ll be a want. Instead of searching for the player of the evening who can read our bodies like a book, we can use our time to find someone worthy of exploring the deepest parts of us.

We’ll know when we’re making love to the right person if we feel connected more to ourselves after.

“Do you need me or do you need someone? There is a difference.” ~ Rupi Kaur

5. Do not hoard. Instead of holding on to expectations, we can let go. Whatever an experience meant doesn’t have to mean more than what it was. That means digging into the archives of how someone hurt us, loved us, how it made us feel, and throwing it all out. Stop the fight with overthinking and just be.

It means taking only what we need and nothing more. Letting the weight fall off leaves us open to the joy that comes naturally. We can experience intimacy as it is without expecting more and leaving disappointed. How beautiful it is when we can just enjoy what is coming to us, and when it’s time to leave, let go.

“I have what I have and I am happy. I’ve lost what I’ve lost and I am still happy.” ~ Rupi Kaur

One-night stands are not for me. I have no desire to leave a sexual encounter feeling empty and unsure of what it means. Instead, I’m free to enjoy whatever love I may find. With clear guidelines of how I should conduct my sex life, I know I can meet a potential lover and not lose myself in them.

I can only honor what is given to me and I can only take what is given. I can let go of what doesn’t fulfill me and stay open for what does. With a whole heck of lot less heartbreak and a whole lot more happiness.

I hope you will too.


author: Elizabeth Randall

Image: Jan Zhukov/Unsplash

Editor: Naomi Boshari

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