Bramacharya – the 4th Yama*. Historically this has meant preserving all energy for Spirit and removing oneself from the more human aspects of living. The yama of Bramacharya suggests abstaining from sex to enable the yogi to use sexual energy in other ways – to be channelled inward and to eventuate in enlightenment. This yama is often overlooked as not so relevant to the modern yogi, however when we approach it as being less about abstaining from sex and more about using energy (all energy) wisely; there is so much to be learned from this Yama.
Generally as a culture we tend to push ourselves to the limits. We go until we really need to stop. This mindset of “use energy, re-fill, use energy, re-fill” somehow doesn’t quite cut it when considered through the lens of Bramacharya. Because Bramacharya is about balance. The practice of moderation – tempering the potential for over-doing it to avoid having to over-compensate later.
Basically, it’s coming to terms with the FACT that where there is one extreme, the other extreme will follow. It’s the Yin and the Yang. If we expend too much energy, we’ll pay later.
Bramacharya is the practice of what the Taoists would call the ‘middle way’. The idea is to not to go go go until empty, but to replace and replenish energy as we use it. This requires a careful balance of letting go and discipline.
- Of the “to do list” head space. The list of all that needs be done. List consciousness is exhausting. Far more exhausting that actually getting through the list. Yogi Bhajan said, “When the pressure is on, start and the pressure will be off”.
- Of resenting that you don’t have enough downtime. Bring downtime into this moment. Don’t hold off relaxing until your list is complete, as lists never are. Try to chill out a little as you journey through your list. Live your life now, not later.
- Of beating yourself up for the late night and the fast food. If you had it, own it. If you enjoyed it, allow yourself that. Then let it go or the stress of it will set you on a cycle of self-sabotage. Yogi Bhajan also said “the only difference between you and I is that I love my shadow”. Meaning true acceptance of self and ownership of choices.
- Look after your health. If you know something’s not good for you, avoid it. If it or he/she is not serving you on an overall energetic head and heart balance level there are things out there that will. Find them.
- You’ve heard it time and time again, however, what you eat has an enormous impact on how you feel, cope with stress and how you sleep. Bring balance to your life by regularly making sure you are nourished.
- Exercise. You need it to maintain balance. If you think you have too much work to do to exercise, change things in your life so that you can look after your health. Make it a priority. If you don’t the universe will swing that balance back itself via sickness or worse.
- Take what you need. If you love “me time” then book it in and value it above all else. Make it a priority.
- Make space for love and friendship. It will lighten the load.
The two keywords for Bramacharya are Presence and Focus. Practicing those two things will bring balance. Guaranteed. On or off the mat.
* Yama – recommended yogic way to live as written in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra about 1700 years ago.