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BRAHMACHARYA: The Practice of Moderating Moderation

Updated: 4 days ago

The Practice of Self-Control and Moderation, Brahmacharya is the Fourth Yama (moral discipline) of Raja Yoga

At its core, the very act of moderation serves as a personal safeguard against the chaos that can result in the absence of rules. Moderation in our own lives includes creating self-imposed guidelines and enforcing them.


Still, there’s a nuanced aspect to the practice of bramacharya —the art of moderating moderation itself.  Cunning poet and playwright Oscar Wilde wrote “Everything in moderation, including moderation” - a core value for many of us - but who’s to say what’s moderate and what isn’t? 


The Middle Way is the Buddhist understanding of avoiding the extremes of self-denial and self-indulgence. The path includes the moral compass for moderating one’s daily activities such as how we practice yoga, establishing work ethics, or what we choose to eat for lunch. Brahmacharya practice embodies not only physical restraints but also the skillful use of one's prana (lifeforce) in all aspects of living.


Brahmacharya is an invitation to channel energy mindfully, noticing the profound impact it has on our well-being. In the context of hatha yoga practice, this means cultivating an awareness of the vital exchange between asana (physical postures), pranayama (breath control), and dharana (meditation).


Moderation in Asana

The body is a vehicle through which we experience life, and maintaining its balance is a fundamental aspect of brahmacharya. It encourages practitioners to engage in asana with mindfulness, avoiding extremes that lead to injury or exhaustion.  By approaching asana with sensitivity and restraint, practitioners honor the body as a sacred vessel, rather than a tool for self-gratification.


Practice: Experience each pose with an open mind and receptive body. Coordinate holding postures with moving through them, leading with the breath, while visualizing prana flowing through every single nadi (subtle energy channel).

Listen and trust the voice within that seeks balance, harmony, and peace in every movement. As we practice being in the present moment breath by breath, letting go of the bonds of the pleasures and pains of the past, we discover hidden abilities, new energies, and even playfulness in your movement.


Uttanasana (standing forward bend). Forward bends help us remember the Middle Way: not too much, not too little. Notice how the body responds to the equilibrium between the left and right side.


Lunges  Use long holds with ujjayi (victory) breath allowing just the right amount of intensity of stretch to open the hip area. Continue releasing the pelvic floor and back leg closer to the earth, feeling the spine arch backward.


Setu bandha sarvangasana (bridge) Breathe evenly and focus on opening the solar plexus and heart center. Imagine the heart lifting out of its cage and sending self-love, compassion, and inner wisdom throughout your being.


Moderation in Pranayama

Pranayama, the practice of conscious breathing, is a powerful tool for harnessing and directing vital energy flow. Through controlled breathing, practitioners learn to balance the body's energy systems, promoting a sense of calm and focus.


Practice: Avoid excessive force or strain in pranayama techniques. Use prana judiciously for the greater purpose of self-discovery and healing.


Moderation in Speech and Thought

Brahmacharya emphasizes moderation not only in physical actions but also in speech and thought. Words carry energy; practicing moderation in speech involves refraining from gossip, harsh words, and unnecessary chatter. By choosing our words mindfully, we conserve the prana of communication, encouraging a positive and harmonious consciousness. 


Practice: Meditation helps us moderate our thoughts, creating space for inner stillness, balance, and heightened awareness while exposing the big reveal: we are enough. Pay attention to excessive desires (drugs, alcohol, sex, food), attachments (people, places, outcomes), and mental fluctuations which deplete  energy and hinder spiritual progress.


Who Decides What’s Too Much or Not Enough?

Ultimately, the practice of listening and trusting our inner voice is what enlightens us to the concept of moderation in all things. We discover that we’re our own gurus; only we know what the Middle Way means as it pertains to our personal universe.


Brahmacharya is a call to transform the way we engage with the world and ourselves. It invites us to embrace a balanced and mindful approach to life, recognizing that true fulfillment arises not from excess or absence, but from the harmonious integration of body, mind, and spirit.


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