The Fourth Yama, Brahmacharya and Sexual Restraint

The Fourth Yama, Brahmacharya, and Sexual Restraint





Brahmacharya is the fourth of the five Yamas in Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga. This Yama is often translated as the practice of sexual restraint or celibacy,…Uh-oh now that's a naughty word in this culture!

This Yama was first observed as the need to preserve our sexual energies and to use those energies to further our yogic and spiritual evolution. But, just like the other Yamas and all things Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, there are deeper meanings that run through each limb and certainly in this controversial Yama practice. First, to understand this Yama more thoroughly we should understand that this is not just about celibacy or chastity as these ideas are classically defined.


The larger and more relevant translation is “right use of energy” meaning that Brahmacharya asks us to actually focus on where we are directing our energies. Are our energies being used for useless endeavors? Do we need to redirect wasted energy to places that will serve us and our communities? How can you use your energy and resources effectively? It really just boils down to that!




On that other, more controversial note, approaching the ideas of right energy and sex, perhaps we could understand it more as simply not misusing that particular energy. Why waste it on a hookup? Could you spend that energy finding ways to seek out more meaningful relationships instead? Sexual energy can be severely misused in the exploitation or manipulation or even dominance of others. The misuse of sexual energy, actions that cause a separation of oneness are of course an act of violence. The very first Yama, Ahimsa is then broken. All Yamas, Niyamas, and Limbs are grounded in the practice of non-violence.





Direct your energy toward the best and most common good for all sentient beings! Don’t abuse your power! Think about restraint when it comes to wasting your time on useless things like worrying or promoting your ego! Let go!


To your health!

Sat Nam ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ The Yama Yoga Store
Written by Soorya Kirti Kaur

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