Yama of the Month: Brahmacharya

In the early days of yoga, before students were instructed in physical practice they were required to engage in a long, detailed study of the Yamas and Niyamas.

The Yamas and Niyamas, two of the eight limbs of yoga, are the ethical teachings of yoga. These are the practices that guide yogis and yoginis through our interactions with ourselves and the world around us.

This month I am focusing on the Yama of Brahmacharya, which means non-excess. Often you can find this translated as “celibacy” or “chastity”, but those words do not convey the subtleties of Brahmacharya. Rather than complete celibacy or chastity, we are encouraged by this Yama to resist the excessive distractions of the outside world and focus on finding peace, harmony and joy within. I have also seen Brahmacharya translated as “right use of energy”, which sums up the concept quite beautifully. It encourages us to “enter each day and each action with a sense of holiness rather than indulgence.”

If you are interested in learning more about the Yamas and Niyamas, I highly recommend this text: The Yamas & Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice

Take a moment to consider how you are directing your focus and your energy. Are you constantly fixated on what others think of you? Continuously striving to gain more money, possessions and outward success? Or are you turning that focus and energy inward, to the love and light within yourself that waits to be nurtured and shared with the world?

A lovely mantra for this yama is “Om somaye namaha”,  a lunar mantra for the washing away of the things that leave us depleted.

A supportive asana for this yama is Child’s Pose, a pose that calms our nervous system and encourages healing in the body.

How will you bring Brahmacharya into your practice?


*Photo courtesy of Unsplash

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