The fourth yama, according to Patanjali, is Brahmacharya. Various sources list two main meanings for this Yama. In one sense it means to have control of the senses. This definition also includes conduct that leads to the realization of the Self, or Brahman, study of the Vedas and scriptures, and contemplation on Brahman. More specifically it refers to celibacy or chastity. This is a yama that advocates restraining from indulging in sensual gratification.
This Yama has very different meanings, and is often disregarded in the modern day because it may seem irrelevant in our culture. It may even be seen as an unpopular yama. Traditionally, Brahmacharya was meant to encourage those involved in the practice of yoga to conserve their sexual energy, and instead, use that energy to progress further along the Yogic path. However, in today’s world, that may not be what feels right for certain individuals. One way to approach this yama is to look within and determine where your energy is directed.
Using and directing our energy in a way that best serves us as Yogis is very important! Acknowledging and practicing this yama can help direct us away from external desires and look within, finding happiness and peace there. How can we do this as Yogis? On the mat, we can let our practice serve us. Stay in Child’s Pose rather than going through that Vinyasa if that is what your body needs that day. Off the mat, focus on the positive and focus within. Consciously choose how to direct your energy. How do you spend your days? Are you busy, busy, busy? Do you need to take a moment to be present and just breathe? Are you fulfilled? Is there anything missing or lacking in your life?
Evaluate your life and your yoga practice. How can you apply this yama to your life personally? We want to hear your interpretation of this yama as well as what is means to you! Please comment below!