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The 5 Yamas: Brahmacharya (Moderation)

The 5th yama is often translated as celibacy, but a more modern and accurate translation of Brahmacharya is moderation or right use of energy. Let's examine where and how we spend our energy on and off of our yoga mats.

On the Mat

Take rest when we need it. Our yoga practice should be about caring for ourselves, not marathoning through poses to try and conquer them. Each asana should be within our control - controlling the breath is how we preserve energy. If we can not control the breath, we should take a child's pose, or any restorative pose until we can continue on.

Don’t get frustrated if an asana is not going as smoothly as we would have wanted. Accept where we are today and move on. Wasting energy by getting irritated about the way an asana is going does not get us anywhere. Oftentimes, it just makes things worse. Give it a few tries and if it’s not happening today then laugh about it and move on.

Avoid negative self-talk. Sometimes we don’t recognize how much we have negative thoughts or we say negative things about ourselves, other people, our surroundings. No matter what form this negativity is showing up, take a moment to recognize it and let it go. This will change your outlook on life for the better.

Change our yoga routine based on our needs rather than waste energy doing the same routine that no longer serves us. Practicing the same thing in the same way will not serve us over time. The practice changes the body and mind and we need to adjust accordingly. Modifying our practice so it better serves us is a good use of energy. Doing the same thing repeatedly, especially if you feel pain, is not only harmful, dishonest and stealing from our time, it is also a waste of energy. Sticking to the same sequence, such as Primary Series, is a great way to learn a discipline but we want to make sure we are not practicing it in the same way, avoiding modifications to work with or heal an injury or avoiding a challenge. The practice will stagnate.

Learn to work with mudras, bandhas and practice pranayama techniques. These techniques teach us how to seal our energy in, direct it and move it along our central axis.

Off the Mat

We don’t necessarily need to practice celibacy unless we are filling a void with promiscuity and we feel like it would aid our personal spiritual journey to do so. However excessively gratifying the senses is a form of suffering (dukkha). Sharing your body/energy with someone you trust is completely ok to do.

Work to lower stress and anxiety. Seek professional help if necessary. These issues change our chemistry leaving us clouded (chitta vikshepa) and drained.

Creative energy is a right use of energy. Using how the world affects us to create is where beauty and purpose in life are found.

Eat when hungry, eat less, eat better, eat slower.

Limit time spent on social media and avoid conflict in the comments section.

Less is more, don’t fill your schedule just to stay busy. Enjoy some downtime to recharge.

Get the right amount of sleep. Again, seek professional help if necessary.

Keep practicing, yogi’s!

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