The Fourth Yama – Brahmacharya
Posted by terrepruitt on February 29, 2016
This one sounds like a weird one. Well, I think it sounds weird, but then again, these are the rules of yoga and yoga was actually meant to be for those that were very serious about it. Those who were pretty much willing to give up everything and willing to follow the Eight Limbs of Yoga. But since it has been introduced and fed to the masses the ideas have been adjusted a bit. Often times Brahmacharya, the fourth yama is described as celibacy. I actually like continence better, with it meaning self-restraint or abstinence, especially in regard to sexual activity; temperance; moderation it allows a little leeway in there.
The text talks about how having sex actually releases your life force so it shouldn’t be done just carelessly. One shouldn’t just have sex to have sex . . . . so opposite the many teachings and attitudes of today. So many things are geared towards getting more and having more no matter what it is, just doing what feels good with no regard to consequences.
So perhaps in terms of sex we think of Brahmacharya as not having meaningless sex. Because many of use are not going to be on the path of celibacy. Since marriage and relationships are part of what make many of us happy. There are other ways to think about Brahmacharya. The Heart of Yoga says moderation in all things. In a lecture about they yamas, Connie Habash, our teacher, said she likes to say that Brahmacharya is a balance of ALL of our energy (not just sex). She even gave an example of wasting energy as go over things in your head over and over. Perhaps having a conversation that will never happen, or replaying a situation in your head over and over. Dwelling on things. Wasting the energy. These makes sense to me.
At this time I would like to point out, I am just sharing, it is not that I have mastered this. I actually kind of think of myself as the queen of going over and over things in my head. Ha, this is part of what makes things like yoga a practice. I need to continually remind myself to “let things go”. And move on.
Energy can be wasted on other things, too, just in the having and doing too much. This wastes energy. All of the needing to have keeps us so busy working that we don’t have time for relaxation. And there are so many other “doings”, we are always on the go, that we don’t have time for just being. There is so much energy being expending that it seems we just run ourselves down.
Always being on the go and not allowing for time to relax and play is not a balanced situation. Not having the balance does not lend to a healthy life. The idea, especially in regards to sex, is to not get so caught up in things that we lose our way. We lose sight of trying to better ourselves through things that might take time, such as eating well, exercise, relaxation, and meditation. All of these things take time and should be included in our lives to help us achieve balance and not have us wasting our energy.
Don’t you like the sound of balance and moderation better than celibacy? Also, do you feel that balance in one’s life IS a good thing?