Brahmachari

In Yoga philosophy we learnt the eight limbs of yoga, asht-anga, are yamas (abstentions), niyamas (lifestyle observances), asanas (postures), pranayama (breathing), pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (absorption into the Divine). 

The goal of yoga is self-realisation, which in some sense is freedom. All of it takes work, and with baby-steps I hope to be able to incorporate these eight limbs of yoga bit by bit to eventually free myself from the unknown. 

One of the yamas, is brahmacharya also known as energy moderation. Amongst all the yamas, I wanted to share how this has the biggest application in my life given that I am of Vata dosha – energy of movement. Vata dosha people are identified as thin and lanky (check, and check), active both physically and mentally (also very true for me as someone who is constantly engaged in a sport or seeking academic rigour), and many other attributes that I related to. 

While Brahmacharya is often interpreted as celibacy, a more appropriate interpretation of it would be based of the literal translation of the word ‘walking in the way of God’. It is rather about channeling the appropriate amount of energy and preventing the dissipation of one’s energy through the misuse of senses. Overstimulation or turbulence in the mind is a violation of brahmacharya. Yet as a vata dosha, I find myself expending excessive energy on certain projects, only to be easily exhausted and struggling to follow through with other responsibilities. I often overthink, or am clouded with thoughts racing through my mind rather than expending the right amount of energy for a required task and conserving what is left of me. 

To help my Vata turbulence, not only was it vital for me to regulate Vata ways of staying balanced, I also thought applying Brahmacharya is of utmost importance to me. I started by working Brahmacharya on a more tangible aspect: asanas. When striking a pose, I bring my awareness to it and hold it to consider: am I regulating my effort such that I’m not pushing or forcing? Am I draining myself out just in this one pose? And if so, how do I put in the right amount of effort? By bringing about breathing into the poses, I relax my mind and use the asana instead to help replenish my energy rather than drain it. All in all, the various aspects of Yoga – breathing, asanas, and spirituality unite harmoniously to elevate a being.

I want to bring this same awareness I practice in yoga, to daily aspects of my life. I wish to live more in the present without feeling constantly drained and exhausted. For me, brahmacharya has been a very applicable aspect of the Yamas in my life.