Brahmacarya is perhaps one of the most misunderstood yamas. This fourth yama was completely perplexing to me during my 200-hour teacher training - the definition taught to us was "celibacy."
Much to the dismay of my partner, I seriously thought that refraining from sex would help me attain a higher understanding of yoga. Well, that didn't last for too long, and thankfully, that then-boyfriend is now my husband! Brahmacarya is truthfully my favorite yama, because the way I have grown to understand its meaning is "moderation." In our culture of "go go go" and "more more more" it sometimes is challenging to connect with the idea that less really is more!
It's all about seeking balance - something I've had many challenges with. I lived for many years filling my days with as much activity as I could squeeze into my planner pad. Brahmacarya for me is about discovering and following the desires of your heart.
Opening yourself up to that takes courage. It is difficult, but energizing, to discover the power of non-doing and simply being. It is about sitting with yourself, finding your truth and implementing moderation in order to discover our own dreams. This yama is a reminder that if we use our energies wisely we will lead a productive life.
When sharing Brahmacarya in a class setting, I like ask my students in asana to become aware of the muscles they are using to be in this pose that may not be needed. I encourage them to find places they are holding on to and let them go; to bring a sense of moderation into the pose; to put just the right effort you need to be comfortable and reserve the rest of that energy for the rest of your day.
I also think it's important to find moderation in the ways we practice. I love a good challenging class or heavy personal Ashtanga practice, but seek to recognize when it's my ego pushing me to do it, and whether it's what my body is really needing at that time. Listening to the body and allowing moderation is hard when we are inundated with images encouraging us to push and do more, but we may actually experience more when we push less. Take a moment and write down everything that you did today.
Then assess whether those things give you energy or are energy vampires - sucking it all away. Step back and observe where you can find moderation. It can be in so many different places: finances, work, time management, hobbies, exercise, food - you name it. Pick one and give it a try. Set your intention in the morning to find reserve throughout your day. Observe how moderation can bring calm clarity in your life. Any thoughts on how less is more in your life? Or struggles to find that ever tottering balance point in your life or asana practice?< Less is More Sequence
- Arhda Surya Namaskar (4-6 Half Sun Salutations)
- Uttanasana (Standing forward bend)
- Adho Mukha Savasana (Downward Facing Dog)
- Bhujangasana (Cobra)
- Balasana (Child's Pose)
- Setu Bhandasana (Bridge Pose)
- Savasana (Rest)