Yoga Sutras challenge - Day#4 - Brahmacharya

Brahmacharya. I've been hesitating to post about this yama as I don't want to offend anyone or cause any "feathers to be ruffled".  Let me begin with a disclaimer:  This post is for informational purposes only!  I am not suggestion anything.  As my teacher says "All we can ever do is follow our own inner guidance".  That goes without saying with this particular yama.

Okay, here we are at day#4 of our challenge.  Brahmacharya is translated as "Right use of sexual energy".
Another translation of the yoga sutras called it: non-excess and still another referred to Bramhacharya as personal restraint.   (Don't worry, this will not be an X-rate post)

I suppose I should start by giving you a definition of Ojas from David Frawley's book: Yoga and Ayurveda
"Ojas-primal vigor: the subtle energy of water as the stored up vital reserve, the basis for physical and mental endurance; the internalized essence of digested food, water, air, impressions and thought.  On an inner level, it is responsible for nourishing and grounding the development of all higher faculties"

The goal is to increase Ojas.  We do this by taking in healthy, pure food, water, air and impressions and through our meditation practice.  The more intense our sadhana (spiritual practice) the more Ojas we build. The more Ojas, the more endurance we have for deeper, more intense sadhana.  It is believed that Ojas is released during sex.  Therefore, you are depleting your "primal vigor". 

Let me pause here for a moment and remind you that I am not suggesting in anyway that you have to abstain from sex in order to be a yogi.  What I would suggest is that you make conscious choices.  During times of intense sadhana consider refraining from sexual activity.   The idea is that you increase Ojas through the intense practices and you retain that energy rather than depleting it when you refrain from sexual activity.

Since most of us householders would have a difficult time convincing our non-yogi spouses of the benefits of practicing Brahmacharya I would suggest that you consider the translation of "personal restraint".   Think about all the ways in which we expend our energy unnecessarily and consider ways in which you can reserve your energy.  Perhaps that might be by choosing to rest instead of staying out late.  Maybe it's by choosing to remain quiet instead of engaging in unnecessary talk. 

Imagine for a minute that you are planning to climb a mountain.  You need to prepare before hand. You'll make sure you make good choices about what and how much you eat and drink, you'll make sure that you prepare physically by exercising and strengthening your muscles and you'll want to get a good night's rest so that you will have the endurance to complete your climb.  It's the same with spiritual practice.  To build endurance for the long trek towards enlightenment you need to retain your energy.  

Think of Ojas as Gold (have you seen the price of gold these days??)  You'll want to spend it wisely.  If you keep spending without putting some in the bank you'll eventually end up being over-drawn.   I have way more to say about this topic but I'll spare you. Besides, I think you get the idea.  Comments welcome.


  1. I remember in our training classes how people would freak out: what, no sex? But I agree with your assessment; it's about maintaining ojas, our essence and sexuality is just a part of that. People who run on empty, do too much, work out like nuts and don't nourish themselves physically and spiritually are not practicing Brahmacharya. I think Ed isn't too fond of that one translation about sexual energy. We can also understand sexual energy as primal energy, which ceases to be ojas if we scatter it--that is why those with Vata disorders really need to practice this sutra as we are such frenetic airheads.


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