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Have you been following our monthly posts outlining the yogic yamas and niyamas? Last month we covered Aparigraha, non-possessiveness. As we transition into December, this month’s yama is the perfect lead into the silly season. Brahmacharya, non-excess, teaches us to tame our indulgences and use energy in a way that is truly useful and necessary.
Brahmacharya means moving toward that which is most essential. Traditionally this yama referred to celibacy, encouraging yogis to save energy in order to devote everything to a yogic path. However, we interpret Brahmacharya to encourage responsible behavior and limit indulgence.
On the mat you can observe Brahmacharya by practising the style that best suits what your body truly needs. Habits often dictate our behavior. For example, if you are a person who is always on the go and needs constant activity, a Power class may be feeding the fire- opt for a soothing Yin class for balance.
Off the mat, Brahmacharya may mean taking a look at your definition of “too much.” Brahmacharya can mean skipping that extra slice of pizza, saying no to that pricey new toy, or cutting down “couch potato time” in favor of an activity that serves your body and mind. The holiday season is one that sees a lot of excess- we often overspend, overeat, and overcommit, leaving us feeling physically and mentally drained. It’s important to keep yourself in check and notice when you’ve had too much. Learn to pick up on the subtle cues your mind sends, and discover how to say no to excess with Brahmacharya.
As we move towards the goal of finding what is essential and true in our lives, Brahmacharya is the guiding light.
About the author: Miranda Raimon is a yoga instructor and freelance health & wellness writer from the San Francisco Bay Area.