Yoga Yamas: Brahmacarya, or Moderation

The eight limbs of yoga, including the yamas and niyamas that we are working through, are not meant to be completed in a linear fashion.

It’s not that you master all five yamas, then move on to all five niyamas, and only after that you’re ready for asana.

We work through all eight limbs (especially the first five) concurrently, sometimes with more focus on one or another.

Like the limbs of a tree, we as people grow in many directions at once.

The fourth yama is brahmacarya.

Brahmacarya: Moderation

Moderation of the desires of the senses. Directing your energy towards your highest self. Moderation in all our actions.


Okay, so honestly this means celibacy. However, modern translations make this a bit more user-friendly and say “moderation of the senses.”⁠

Think about it this way: where your mind goes, your energy flows.⁠

If you’re chasing desire after desire, are you practicing? ⁠

Maybe, if you’ve consciously chosen your desire and you personally rubber stamp the direction you’re heading.⁠

Then the question becomes about who’s in control. ⁠

Are you controlling your journey towards what you desire, or is your desire controlling you? ⁠

Ways we can live in the spirit of brahmacarya

-Become aware of where you spend your time and energy. Are you directing your efforts towards your greatest vision for yourself and the world? Are there any areas where you feel you are wasting time, and how can you redirect the energy towards something more meaningful?

-All things in moderation. Notice where you may be going overboard or living with the mentality that things are running out, so you’d better get while the gettin’s good. Recognize the abundance in your life. Start to feel the sweet spot, where enough is enough.

-Respect that there is truly only so much of yourself you can give before exhaustion, irritation, illness, and the crazies take over. Spend time on your self-care routine so you can build up your stores of energy. Determine stopping points, and stick to them. Realize that you have plenty of time, you can only do your best with what you’ve got, you deserve to spend some of your energy on yourself, and you are enough.

-Be considerate of who you share your most intimate self with. You don’t have to give everything to everyone right away, you can and should have boundaries, and building trust slowly is beautiful and sweet.

Sutra 2.38