Bramacharya can be translated to mean living moderately. Our life energy is precious and when we have a healthy respect for it, we naturally tend towards moderation. In our yoga practice it becomes about noticing which practices are working for us and which don’t work for us. It’s about becoming aware of our energy and using Yoga classes as a way of balancing it.
For example, if you’re feeling slugging and haven’t moved very much over a few days (think about the time between Christmas and New Year as an example), then a dynamic practice may be exactly what’s required to balance the energy and cultivate a little more vitality. But if you’re very active with young children or have a very physical job or enjoy running then you may prefer a more restorative Yoga practice which is ground based and slow moving. If you’re exhausted, then you may simply need savasana and a guided relaxation.
It’s the idea that we ‘can’t pour from an empty cup’… if we find ourselves depleted or spreading ourselves too thin then we are out of balance with what is truly our birth right. To find balance in life is to find sustainability, to enjoy good health and vibrancy every day. It’s truly a practice of beginning to notice how we feel. How we feel about things and situations, relationships and food. Respecting our energy in order that it doesn’t become depleted and that we’re channelling and using it well means attuning to the times when we feel depleted and the reasons why.
It’s noticing that some situations feel draining and naturally become hard work as on some level we resist doing them. It’s noticing what makes us feel vibrant, joyful and most alive and naturally becomes effortless. When we notice and take responsibility, we begin to reinstate balance. Take for example an imbalance in the food that we eat… whilst we may enjoy excesses and indulgences from time to time, we know that if those excesses and indulgences were regular then we’d start to feel the effects in our bodies in a way which doesn’t honour our true vitality.
Likewise, we may enjoy alcohol from time to time, particularly at the end of a stressful week, but when consumed regularly an indulgently we feel unwell. The same goes for spending time in relationships which are depleting and, or knowing how much and how often we can tolerate them. We may experience our work situations as draining or depleting and need to address the balance.
Whilst balance in there in our everyday language and something we take for granted ‘I’ve overdone it’ ‘I’ve spread myself too thin’ ‘I haven’t got time’ etc. if we pay more attending on a daily basis to the things that truly nourish us; mentally, physically and emotionally and those things than drain us, we empower ourselves to begin to make choices and to observe the kind of moderation that makes life sustainable. You’ll be amazed at just how far the energy of sustainability extends once you have found it within yourself.
Take Bramacharya off the mat today: Begin to notice how the food you’re eating makes you feel, while you’re eating it and afterwards. Listen not just to your mind, but the reactions of the body and decide what feels truly nourishing. Or perhaps you’d like to apply bramacharya to your social media usage? Noticing when scrolling through Facebook or Instagram which accounts bring you joy, and which make you feel uncomfortable.