The Yamas In Practice: Brahmacarya Just Because

Celibacy:  the forth of the five Yamas, asks us to stop having sex. It's OK, you'll get over it! To preserve our vital energy, ojas, to promote strength in our being, it is believed that these fluids should be directed towards prana rather than being drawn out of the body.

2.38 Brahmacharya Pratisthayam Virya Labhah
When walking in the awareness of the highest reality (brahmacharya) is firmly established, then a great strength, capacity, or vitality (virya) is acquired.
— The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

In teacher training we were given Brahacharya as a practice for moderation, a much more liberal interpretation of this sutra. However, Rolf Sovic discusses this practice as a means of recognizing and learning to manage sensory pleasures. Of course, I write this after eating a handful of chocolate chip cookies and realize now that Brahmacharya slipped though my fingers as I was feeding my face, bad yogini...



How do you delight in the senses? Raise your hand if any of these sound familiar:

  • Sight: Binge watching tv; click-bait; social media; cosmetics.
  • Sound: streaming music; radio; news broadcasts (give up NPR, are you insane?)
  • Smell: perfumes; shampoos; air fresheners; fabric softeners; essential oils (guilty!)
  • Taste: How much time do we have...
  • Feeling: Warmth/cold seeking; the touch of others; asana and other physical practices; texture of clothing; need for love from an external source; thrill seeking.

It can seem like a lot to tackle at once, so start by recognizing what part the senses play in your daily decision making. Do you REALLY want that coffee? Do you crave the warmth, flavor, smell?

Start by simply creating a checklist of where your sensory pleasures are being drawn towards right now, decide if any one or more of these is having a negative or destructive impact on your body/mind/spirit.

For my 40 day challenge I have decided to reduce/eliminate the need to be connected to news outlets. This is something that has become somewhat of a negative habit, started off with the need to be informed about the events of the hour with this chaotic administration. After one week I am already feeling relaxed, more energized, and have found more room for other things that interest me and serve me WAY better.

Now, where does Brahmacarya fit in with your practice of non-stealing, truthfulness and non-harming? Are the pieces of the puzzle starting to come together? Next time we complete the Yamas with Aparigraha, non-greed, which will really test my chocolate chip cookie needs...

~Pease, Light, Love to All~