Effort and Surrender
Effort and Surrender
Brahmacharya is the fourth element of the Yamas, the social restraints, as described in the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali. Its literal translation means celibacy. In my view, however, celibacy’s meaning can be expanded to take on a broader meaning. In my view, brahmacharya is about having the discipline to make the proper choices about how we spend our energy and where we put our focus in life.
Sharing my life with a renewable energy expert, I learned that the goal of project is to deliver the planned amount of power at the right time, in the right place, in a reliable and predictable fashion.
This concept sounds dreamy on a personal note. Knowing exactly how and where to distribute our own personal energy would make life so much simpler.
In all of my classes, whether yang or yin, students are guided to tune in to their body sensations and breath. I encourage them to focus on their own practice, listen to the messages their bodies send them, and recognize their own boundaries. Following their own bodies’ instructions actually allows them to relax more and open up. Students who force their bodies to move in a manner that their bodies are rejecting is counterproductive. Students who ignore the messages their bodies are sending them feel drained. Students who have the discipline to practice in a manner consistent with the messages their body is broadcasting feel rejuvenated after class, unlocking and releasing stagnant energy, and having a clear and smooth flow of energy in their body.
The yoga mat provides an amazing opportunity to explore many of our tendencies. The yoga mat creates a setting which enables reflection on our own energy management. In order to spend our energy wisely, we need to work smart and reach our edge without exceeding it.
We need to have the courage and discipline to know when to push, and when to dial it back. Whether we are holding a pose or flowing from one pose to another, we want to practice in an effective manner that allows us to obtain the benefits of the work without developing bad habits or putting ourselves at risk.
We cultivate awareness and sensitivity regarding how we spend our energy through our yoga practice. On the mat we poll our body and are constantly asking:
How do we distribute the body weight in a pose? Which areas of the body require effort? Which areas of the body can be relaxed? Is there a way to isolate the effort only to the relevant areas? Are we gripping or holding tension without even noticing? What can we learn from our breath? Is it smooth and deep? Is it shallow? Are we holding the breath? Answers to these questions can indicate where you are and help teach you how to spend your energy efficiently and wisely.
Cultivating self-awareness on the yoga mat, with no judgment or deception, can help you implement that same discipline, awareness and honesty in your life . The practice of Brahmacharya can shed a whole new light on how you distribute and focus your energy in your life, and how you may use that new awareness in order to focus your energy precisely, making you both more effective and happier with how you live your life. It is all your choice.