The Yamas: Brahmacharya by Lena Schmidt

Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga > Yoga > The Yamas: Brahmacharya by Lena Schmidt

The yogic journey, as defined by Patanjali (the ancient sage said to have authored the Yoga Sutras, a foundational text of yoga) is an eight-fold path. The eight limbs act as guidelines for how to live a healthy and meaningful life, tuned into ones own purpose and spiritual nature. The eight limbs are yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi. Over the next few weeks we’ll be diving deeper into each of the 8 Limbs here in this blog and in the Thursday, 9:00am, Yoga 1 class at the North Park studio. Enjoy your journey!

The first limb of the eight-fold path is the Yamas, or attitudes and behaviors towards others. The Yamas are basically the moral “don’ts.” The 5 Yamas are Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Aparigraha, and Brahmacharya.

The fifth of the Yamas is Brahmacharya. Brahmacharya is non-excess, self-control, or moderation.

We can practice Brahmacharya in yoga by:
*Practicing focus and redirecting distractions
*Not bringing sexuality into the classroom (think about: what you’re wearing, how ego influences how you move into poses, and maintaining professional boundaries)
*Redirecting excessive energy towards something greater (intention, mantra, breath)

We can practice Brahmacharya in life by:
*Redirecting excessive energy towards something greater (intention, mantra, breath, a cause you believe in)
*Direct energy to focus on what’s important (notice how much time you’re spending online, on your mobile device, watching TV—what else could you being doing with your precious energy?)
*Noticing where in your life you could practice moderation (drinking too much? eating too much? spending too much time on social media? not doing enough yoga?)

Practice tips: Brahmacharya is sometimes translated (and then misunderstood) as chastity or celibacy. This may feel restrictive and irrelevant today. In the strictest sense it’s about conserving ones sexual energy (specifically semen) so that it can be transformed into more powerful energy, or prana. A fuller understanding of the concept of Brahmacharya asks us to think about where we are putting our energy—sexual or otherwise—and to notice if we are expending it unnecessary ways. Sharon Gannon of Jivamukti Yoga School says that her understanding “is that the practice of brahmacharya means not misusing sex. Brahmacharya means ‘to respect the creative power of sex and not abuse it by manipulating others sexually.’” If we want to be more in unison with the Universe, she says, directing our sexual energy in smart ways is a means to get there. So rather than going to the bar to pick up a one-night stand, we could pour that energy into other places – cultivating more lasting relationships with others, with work, with ourselves, or with yoga.

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