This week we look at the fourth yama - Brahmacharya. This is one that there is a lot of debate and confusion over. You can read many different meanings on Brahmacharya which refers to controling ourselves and our desires. In yoga it often relates specifically our sexual energies and how we manage our sexual energy. For most of us, Brahmacharya is not celibacy, but rather a correct use of sex. We live in a society that does not see sex as a spiritual act, but something that we can give and take anytime we choose. It is unfortunate that this attitude exists even amongst serious yogis. Just recently in 2012, the Anusara yoga community was rocked with news that their leader was engaged in improper sexual activity with students and teachers. It tore their yoga community apart.
Without sex, the human race would come to an end, but think about where you are directiing your sexual energy - don't waste it on things that are not going to be beneficial. Use sex in a way that honors yourself and others. As with most pleasurable things in life - we can use it in a beautiful way to enhance and beneift our lives or we can use it in a way that is destructive not only to ourselves but to those around us. The world around us tells us that 'if it feels good do it' no matter what the consequences may be. One thing that yoga teaches us is to consider our actions. We are so used to instant gratifcation of our senses that sensory control has to become a practice and something we train ourselves in.
Brahmacharya has a lot to do with moderation and balance in our lives - in ALL areas of our lives. Practice it when it comes to eating - don't overindulge, practice it when making purchases - maybe you think for a week or two about something that you want ot buy before making a hasty purchase, Anything we waste unnecessary time or energy on draws us away from the higher purpose of yoga which is to grow spiritually.
We think that we are somehow going to lose out on pleasure if we stop indulging ourselves but try practicing moderation in your life and notice where true joy lies - it is within and not outside.