So this is one of my favourite elements of yoga philosophy – in the way that I interrupt it anyway. Brahmacharya is about self-restraint. Traditionally it is predominantly focused on sexual energy however it is a powerful concept that can be applied to all energy – so LIFE! To me Brahmacharya is about recognising that as humans we have limited energy, and Brahmacharya is about CONSCIOUSLY CHOOSING how you would like to use this limited energy. Its about learning to say ‘NO’ to yourself, to others etc. I wrote a blog last year in September (2014) about letting go of that which does not serve you… this is a similar concept.
Lets go deeper.
Our life force/energy is limited and precious. It is the most valuable thing you can share with anyone, give to anything, yet we often just throw it around. Everything in your life impacts your energy levels – everything will take energy, maintain your energy levels, or increase your energy. Right now can you think of someone that you DREAD seeing because they are energy drainers? Then can you think of doing something that excites you and gives you energy? I know even talking about yoga gives me energy!
Brahmacharya is teaching us to monitor how we expend (and gather) our energy. But as the translation ‘self restraint’ would indicate it is also about building will power and discipline to build and cultivate stronger energy. It’s about learning that all important word (that I feel like there is social resistance too.) “NO”.
It should be ok to say “NO.” No reason. No justification. Just “No” because it is not a good choice for you.
On the Mat:
**If you are in downdog and there is an optional vinyasa/flow/pose/challenge… if you are the person that always pushes yourself too far you will gain more energy, strength and will power by restraining. By saying ‘NO’ - resisting that temptation to do one more flow. By changing your habits.
On the flip side, if you are the person that is always sitting back in your pose, just flowing through the motions, you will gain more strength, energy and will power by moving outside of your comfort zone. By saying “No” to the invalid excuses, that temptation to run, temptation to sit back.
On the yoga mat Brahmacharya also applies as we are also looking for energy efficiency. We are looking at trying to share the effort in poses so you can find that perfect balance of effort and ease that allows you to breathe with control so that you can cultivate more energy. Can you say “No” to your ego when it wants to keep pushing but you are panting like a puppy??? Your yoga practice should be to your body what taking your car to the petrol station is… Refuelling, re-energising.
Off the Mat:
Its about saying “NO” to yourself when you reach for your forth Tim Tam, when you are tempted to do your 3rd yoga class for the day, when you want to take a short cut rather than doing it properly, when you know you are making invalid excuses. Its using the word ‘No” to constrain your energy, to restraint your desires, to discipline your mind and body - to fuel your life force. Choosing what you know is best for you long term…. Not in that transient moment.
Equally it is about learning to say ‘No’ to others. I still am not amazing at this. Learning to set boundaries around friendships, time, relationships and families. Saying ‘No’ when you know you need to recoup a little, limiting time with people you feel deplete you, spending more time with people who energise you.
#01: Identify an addiction, or your kryptonite. Whether it is instagram, sex, running, drugs, yoga, salt and vinegar chips, soy chai’s, chocolate, alcohol, running, exercising, gossiping… What do you crave? What do you over-do? What do you get kicks out of where you need to exercise self constraint? Start slowly and simply. How can you start to gather more prana/energy? Cut back and watch how your ego starts to find validation in your old ways. Watch the resistance in the breaking of the habits.
#02. Before you immediately say ‘YES’ to anything –pause. Whether you need to pause before you pick something up at the supermarket, put the phone down and have a think before you message someone back, or simply walk away. Pause and assess. Don’t respond or act without thinking if right now that is the best option for your energy reserves. Will this option give you energy, take energy or leave you neutral.
#03: When you roll out your yoga mat set the intention to be more energy conservative in your practice. Come back to a steady seat (equal effort & ease) where your breath is only even, slow, controlled and through the nose. Feel the difference in your energy when you step off your mat at the end of class.
Observe your life. Increase your awareness. Grow your consciousness.
KORINNE McNEILL: Yoga is life for Korinne. Creator of the Green Room Korinne is grateful everyday that she gets to share her passion with others.