This month our focus moves to the 4th Yama: Brahmacharya. The Yamas are Patanjali’s ethical codes on how to treat others.

Brahmacharya
Brahma = truth; essential
charya = vehicle or means to

A movement toward the essential; self-restraint; continence
Sutra II.38:

A) By one established in continence, vigor is gained

B) When one does not misuse sexual energy, one obtains enduring vitality resulting in good health.

C) Upon the establishment of celibacy, power is attained.

Brahmacharya is often loosely translated as celibacy. Patanjali simply gives us the guidelines to preserve our vital energy. We should control our perceptual senses, desires, and abstain even from thoughts of objects of desire through a firm control of one’s mind, as well as through a controlled diet and sleep. Brahmacharya cannot be attained if one indulges in too much sleep or food intake.

The Upanishads, a classical text from which Yoga stems, advises the student to marry and raise a family upon completing studies. Therefore, it does not necessarily imply celibacy. It is with moderation and self-restraint that we are able to move towards the essential. It means responsible behavior with respect to our goal of moving towards the truth. Through restraint, we can free ourselves of desire and produce the highest individual vitality. Practicing brahmacharya will make us happy, strong, healthy, wealthy, and blissful!


“Tells us to use our sexual energy in a way that makes us feel more intimate not only with our partner but also will all of life.” – Donna Farhi

All codes of law recommend marriage; “without experiencing human love and happiness, it is not possible to know divine love.” – BKS Iyengar