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How to incorporate the fourth Yamas Brahmacharya (restraint) into your life.

NOTE If you just landed on this article please read the first article in this series first:

What can an ancient text called the Yoga Sutras do for you?”


This article includes a short introduction to the concept of Brahmacharya + journal prompts + practical and easy ways to incorporate the concept into your life. 


YAMAS – The external ethical rules.

(Yoga Sutra II.30)


Yamas is the first limb in the 8 limbs of Astanga Yoga. Yamas means restraint = as in holding back, or trying to stop doing.


The Yamas consist of a list of 5 ethical principles for your relationships with others, the outside world, and nature. They are, in their most basic form, a form of basic life principles and focus on the kind of behavior you should try to live by. By living these principles, you neither inflict suffering on yourself nor others around you.


The 5 principles are; non-violence (ahimsa), truth (satya), non-stealing (asteya), restraint (brahmacharya), and non-attachment (aparigraha). They are the moral, ethical, and spiritual guidelines that are important to observe if you want to achieve a balance in life and health and well-being; physically as well as mentally.


The five principles can all be easily observed in your daily actions, words, and thoughts. By trying to live by them or, in the first place, just becoming aware of them, you are helping to form the foundation for a healthier and happier self as well as contributing to a healthier and happier world.



tower of rocks on the beach



Brahmacharya – restraint, the fourth Yamas

(Yoga Sutra II 38)


Brahmacharya is the fourth Yamas and focuses on the appropriate use of energy.

In the original texts, the focus was primarily on the appropriate use of sexual energy and the control/management of this. However, its interpretation and application extend far beyond the realm of sexual restraint.


In our more modern-day lives, Brahmacharya can also be translated to being able to maintain an awareness of how we use our energy best possible, and our ability to be both active and relaxed, in our physical body as well as mentally. By cultivating a mindful awareness about how we use our energy, we’re better able to build endurance, efficiency, and self-control.


Although Brahmacharya was often interpreted as celibacy and abstinence from sex. It generally means that you must become more aware of how you use your sexual energy and that you do not use it in a way that brings harm to yourself or others (in compliance with the first Yamas Ahimsa). When you let the sexual experience be an intimate expression of love between two people, it can be a wonderful addition to your spiritual journey.


In a broader and more contemporary context, Brahmacharya is understood as the principle of moderation or the right use of energy. It encourages you to regulate your senses and manage your internal resources, such as physical and mental energy, to live a balanced and harmonious life. This broader interpretation allows the concept to be applied to various aspects of life, including diet, sleep, work, entertainment, and relationships.


Working with Brahmacharya can be a powerful experience. It involves being conscious of where and how your energy is spent. It invites you to ask yourself whether or not your actions serve your highest intentions or if you are squandering precious energy on pursuits that don't truly fulfill you. By applying the principle of Brahmacharya, you can lead a more focused, balanced, and meaningful life.


Practical steps when working with Brahmacharya.


Applying Brahmacharya to the practice of yoga and any kind of physical exercise.


  • Respect your limitations and allow time and space for growth.
  • Don't set unrealistic goals.
  • Respect your bodily limitations on any given day, and that they can vary from day to day.
  • Don’t exhaust yourself.
  • Make time for relaxation and restitution.
  • Listen to your body.
  • When exercising see if there are areas in your body that are activated which does not need to be activated (like holding tension in the shoulders while running)


Applying Brahmacharya to your life.


  • Do not be a love and sex addict.
  • Make sure you are not using your sexual energy in a negative way.
  • Ensure that you experience an equal amount of high energy (excitement) and low energy (relaxation).
  • Practice moderation in all areas of life.
  • Be mindful of impulses that drive your desires and actions.
  • Develop self-discipline and self-control to guide your actions.
  • Focus your efforts on goals and activities that are aligned with your values.
  • Make choices that reflect and respect your own energy and the energy of others.


Book The quick guide to the yoga sutrasGrab the Quick Guide to The Yoga Sutras 8 Limbs of Yoga


Important self-investigation.


Explore what you are doing with your life force energy, by becoming more aware and in tune with yourself. This can help you avoid being overwhelmed and establish a more balanced lifestyle.


It’s all about using moderation. Too much or an excess of anything will dull you. In expending energy, there is a fine line between okay and enough, in crossing that line you will become lethargic. You need to learn to master and recognize the point where you are moving into lethargy and stop or make a change before this happens. The practice is to make sure to take breaks so that you get a chance to recharge.


Constantly expending energy and overuse of the senses will eventually make you immune to the wonders of the world, while recharging and replenishing your energy storage will make you come alive again and enable you to live life to the fullest. So, by pulling back a little from sense pleasures you get to hold on to your ability to be amazed and find excitement and joy in living. Brahmacharya is the practice of being able to experience joy without going too far and losing yourself in it.


Try to challenge yourself to, in any given situation, question whether you are using the right amount of energy right now. Focus on your activity and make sure that you are using exactly the amount of energy that is needed. By doing this, see if there are places in both your body and mind where you can let go and relax.


Contemplation and Journal prompts on Brahmacharya.


  1. Write down the things that make you feel alive and filled with energy. Do you experience enough of this in your daily life?
  2. Are you able to distinguish when you are running on low and when you are filled with energy? How do the two opposites feel?
  3. Try to observe what you spend your sensual and sexual energy on and how you express this side of yourself?
  4. Do you need to take a break from anything that might be consuming your energy? (technology, food, people, news, social media, etc)
  5. Are there places in your life where you struggle with self-discipline? What can you do to change this?
  6. Think about where you spend most of your energy each day. Are these areas aligned with your values and goals?
  7. Reflect on your consumption of media and entertainment. How does it affect your energy and focus?
  8. Taking the concept of moderation into account, are there adjustments you need to make in your life to live more purposefully?


Ready to take the next step - Aparigraha!

Disclaimer

The information found in this blog post is for general informational and educational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for a health professional's advice. If you are struggling with health issues please seek professional help. The use of any information provided in this blog post is solely at your own risk.


Author Mette Rosenqvist


she/her

With 10 years of supporting women release and manage emotional and physical pain to achieve optimal health, Mette is the seasoned coach and blogger behind MeRoyoga, a Holistic Health website. Dedicated to empowering women of all ages and backgrounds, her work is based on cultivating mind-body awareness and self-regulation through compassionate inquiry. As a Multi passionate coach, Mette incorporates several healing modalities to create bespoken sessions prioritizing inclusion, meaning, and accessibility and thrives on helping women discover all the choices available to them so they can build trust and safety in themselves, and move through life present, centered, and empowered.




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