Brahmacharya is the fourth of the 5 yamas, or ethical practices within yoga. These yamas make up one of the 8 limbs of yoga, which are moral, ethical, and spiritual habits. While many people practice yoga for its physical benefits, exploring some of the mental and spiritual practices of yoga can leave you feeling great as well! Here is an introduction to brahmacharya and some ways to embrace this yama to bring moderation into your life.
Using Brahmacharya To Add Moderation To Your Life
Historically, brahmacharya was interpreted as “celibacy” or “chastity.” Today, many yogis interpret this yama differently: a common modern translation of brahmacharya is “the right use of energy.” This idea speaks to channel your energy into productive outlets, rather than wasting your energy on things that do not serve you. This often means moving your attention away from the things you worry about on a day-to-day basis and instead bringing your energy inward to find peace with the way you are.
Brahmacharya In Your Yoga Practice
Many yogis start embracing the yamas during their asana practice. Some teachers may create flows based on the yamas, or simply encourage their students to practice an idea physically on their mat as a means to help them understand it outside of yoga class. Try some of the following ways to practice the fourth yama on your yoga mat.
- Hone Your Technique. Working on your technique so you are safely and effectively moving through each pose is a great place to start with brahmacharya. Practicing each pose with proper form can help ensure you are using energy through correct muscle groups rather than losing energy by exerting muscles in the wrong way. Working with your teacher to make sure you are using the right large muscle groups to support your body can also help you do this!
- Do What Your Body Needs. Sometimes your body may benefit from a fiery power yoga class. Other times, it may be better to do a restorative yoga practice or meditation to conserve your energy and rejuvenate when you are physically and mentally tired. Bringing this yama onto your mat through listening to your body is a great way to make productive use of energy.
- Be Present In Your Practice. Does your mind tend to wander when you are practicing yoga? While allowing your mind to relax can be extremely beneficial, letting your mind wander to external stressors while on your yoga mat can be a poor use of energy. Rather than using your asana practice to ruminate on other aspects of your life, be mindful of when your thoughts are not fully on your practice and try to redirect this energy to your poses.
Brahmacharya At Work
Yoga class is not the only time to practice the yamas! Bringing brahmacharya off the yoga mat may help you embrace moderation and channel your energy in productive ways. Explore the following ways to bring brahamaraya into your office.
- Focus On A Single Task. Multitasking is less productive than doing one task at a time for most people. If you have a habit of keeping 15 tabs open and jumping from task to task, you may consider a different approach. Rather than working on several tasks at once, try bringing your full energy to a single task at a time. This may help you channel your energy and ultimately become more productive!
For more tips on concentration, check out our guide to dharana, the sixth limb of yoga.
- Find Strategies for Productivity At Work. Most people have parts of their jobs they are excited about and other parts of their jobs they find less enticing. Finding ways to balance your energy in various aspects of your job can also be an effective way to practice brahmacharya during your workday. For example, are you usually energized Tuesday mornings and lethargic Friday afternoons? If so, see if there are ways to balance your workload so you can take on your tasks that take high levels of thinking for times when you are feeling energized, rather than trying to take on those tasks when you are feeling drained.
- Leave Work At Work. Creating a work-life balance can be difficult regardless of your profession. Making an effort to have even a small work-life balance is a great way to bring the fourth yama into your life. This may mean setting aside a few hours per week to do things you love to move your mind away from work or setting communication boundaries with clients or colleagues about when you will and will not be available.
Brahmacharya At Home
Practicing brahmacharya at home may also be highly beneficial and rewarding! Try some of the following ways to bring moderation into your day-to-day habits and relationships.
- Move Away From Ambivalent Relationships. Ambivalent relationships, or relationships with people who you have mixed feelings about, can be some of the most emotionally draining. If you use a lot of energy on people who you are not fully committed to, think about whether or not this person is really important in your life. If they bring more negative than positive to your life, consider spending less time with that person.
- Consume in Moderation. Spending time on your phone, watching television, drinking alcohol or otherwise taking things in excessively can take a harmful toll on your body. Rather than mindlessly consuming, take some time to think about the resources you use on a daily basis. Putting down your phone or having one less drink can be a tangible way to put this yama into action.
- Use Your Energy Where It Matters. The heart of this yama, but perhaps the most difficult to put into action, is simply channeling your energy into the things that mean the most to you. Do you spend hours worrying about things outside of your control or ruminating over things in the past? Do you put time and energy into what makes other people happy with little thought to your own well-being? If so, practicing saying no or finding ways to stop overthinking may help you harness the power of this yama!