Brahman refers to divinity, non-specific to Brahma the first of the Hind trinity but the divine as a more general concept.

Charya is a virtuous path or way of life.

Together, they literally mean the path to the divine. As we’ve seen, Sanskrit words rarely have one meaning and these big Yama concepts are often mis-translated or at the least oversimplified. Brahmacharya is most often translated as either moderation or celibacy. Moreso, a brahmachari is one who sees divinity in all, who strives for excellence and virtue in all pursuits and who takes care not to waste their prana in trivial pursuits. This is where moderation comes from. “The brahmachari uses the force he generates wisely. Brahmacharya is the battery that sparks the torch of wisdom.” -BKS Iyengar

When brahmacharya is established, virya (vigor) is acquired. Yoga Sutra II.38

How do we bring this into our practice? As always, it starts in your mind, with your thoughts and intentions. Every time you’re not present in the moment, you’re wasting your energy. When you start to feel like you can’t do something, you can’t hold a pose, you aren’t strong enough or big enough or good enough. Worry, stress, fear. What a waste of energy! A waste of your precious time. And how better could you use your prana, your time? For virtue, for good, for seva (selfless service). What an incredible force we are capable of generating, and what power we have if we use it wisely, instead of squandering it away on negativity, or even just silly pursuits. Brahmacharya starts with intention, with presence in your body, in your breath. Drishti, single point of focus. Then it expands. When you first start practicing yoga, you develop familiarity and awareness in your body; exploring breath and movement, just scratching the surface. This is called Arambha Avastha-the first of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika’s evolutionary stages. Using your energy in intense focus during this stage leads you to the next, Ghata Avastha, where you explore the connection between bodily action and changes in your mind. Continued focus on refining your body and breath in your practice leads you to Parichaya Avastha, exploration of consciousness and refined awareness of body/mind integration. Finally, everything becomes a moving meditation and one comes into a state of pure bliss in Nispattia Avastha. What more worthy pursuit is there? This increased focus can take you anywhere, everywhere. Or, you can spend your time watching tv, getting upset about sports, and worrying about celebrity relationships.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not.” Dr. Seuss



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