I'll begin this post with a bit of an explanation to clear up a key point: Brahmacharya is often translated - and indeed described - as celibacy. BUT before you click off this post having read the foregoing sentence, this is not a call to chastity! This more literal rendering of Brahmacharya is used in many of the traditional sources (such as the Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita among others), which come from times past, when sages, saints and yogis were those who devoted their lives completely to spiritual pursuits: living wild in forests, performing esoteric (and at times painful sounding!) rites, and renouncing the trappings of the world entirely, in their bid to attain true union with the source/God/the Cosmos.

However, for much of Yoga's tradition, there has also been a second category of practitioner, this being the "householder". This is a person diligently practicing and studying yoga, whilst at the same time living in society, doing all the things a member of a community does; raising a family and engaging in the many physical as well as spiritual aspects of life, which does include pleasurable sex and procreation. Just so you know.

Another, broader way of looking at Brahmacharya is "right use of energy". The word can also be translated as "that which leads to Brahman", Brahman being the Creator. In other words, we can focus on conducting ourselves in a way which leads us towards attaining union with a higher power, or "God" (whatever your version of God may be). This holds not only in our most intimate relationships, but in all of our encounters with others, and all other aspects of our lives.

By treating others with love, respect and compassion, we are practicing Brahmacharya. As Deepak Chopra says in his book "The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga",

"Seeing the entire creation as an expression of the divine impulse to generate, you celebrate the creative forces. Brahmacharya means aligning with the creative energy of the cosmos."

So, therefore, where and how we direct our energy in everything we do is important. Deepak also tells us that in difficult times, such as we are living right now, we have the choice to focus on personal empowerment. And, the good news is we can use our yoga practice as a tool to do this: hooray!!

Yoga, pranayama and meditation are scientifically proven to take us into the parasympathetic nervous system, i.e. the "rest and digest" and relaxation responses, as opposed to the "fight or flight" response modern day life often keeps us trapped in. Our practice can work wonders to keep us centered, calm and grounded: and we will be more centered, calm and grounded in our dealings and relationships with others as a result. The trick is to remember how valuable our practice is, and to take the time out to do it regularly, no matter what other diversions life happens to be throwing at us at any given time.

See your time on the mat as a container: something constant and reliable, which will help to hold you together when the going gets tough. Or, see your practice as an opportunity to celebrate when things are going well. It's all too easy to get caught up in worry, which, ultimately, is fear based, and not what we want to be focussed on (we become engrossed by whatever we place our attention on), for the sake of our mental and physical health.

When you're on the mat, use your practice to bring your "attention" to your "intention" for being there: don't just go through the motions, practice with compassion and kindness towards your self, cultivating courage, power and stability. See your practice as a chance to get to know the "inner you"; not the you who is focussed on the labels society puts on you, but you in the true sense, who you are at the deepest level.

Once you're practicing to generate a positive, nurturing attitude towards yourself and your time on the mat, you'll be well on the way to using right energy in your relationships, interacting with others with love, respect, positivity and care, and as a result of doing so freely and without expectation, receiving all of this back in abundance.

Happy practising!


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