Brahmacharya – Chastity

Brahmacharya – Chastity

Posted by Wellspring, Category: On the Yoga/Meditation Mat,

The 4th yama is Brahmacharya, usually translated as Chastity, which then most often gets paired with the idea of celibacy.  In our Western culture, this is not a popular idea!  In some circles, brahmacharya is broadened to address appropriate use and expression of our sexuality, which is understood to be a natural part of our humanness.  Certainly responsible sexual behavior is an attribute worth aspiring to.  Beyond our physical actions, we might also consider our thoughts and language, how we interact with others and what intimacy means to us.

A different view comes in the translation of John McAfee in The Secret of the Yamas.  Here brahmacharya asks us to "not be sensual."  We experience the world with our senses - we are sensual!  The challenge can come in our relationship to these experiences.  We may cling to, covet or crave certain experiences, driving our actions and attention.  Or we may avoid or run from certain other experiences.  Time spent either craving or avoiding experience takes us away from being alive in our present moment.  Yoga seeks to help us be aware of and live the life that is presenting at each moment.

And yet another aspect often considered of brahmacharya concerns the conservation of energy and its balanced flow.  It is said that yogis and others who practice celibacy channel their creative, sexual energy into other avenues of expression.  Again, yoga guides us to have balance in our lives, neither over-indulging in nor suppressing the creativity that is a natural part of our being.

The study of yoga in our daily lives allows every moment to be a lesson.  We can learn to watch ourselves - our thoughts, motivations, habits - and see where more balance, more union of body, mind and spirit would enhance our sense of peace and wholeness.  How does yoga help you with this?