Yama 4 & 5: Brahmacharya and Aparigraha

I found these wonderful descriptions on the Open Mind Body website – a resource for yoga students and teachers!

Brahmacharya is the fourth of the 10 yoga ethics – it is often described as moderation. However, literally translated, it means “to remain connected to source”, or “dedication to the Divinity of Life”. In this sense, moderation is not about any inherent value in denying yourself pleasure. It is really about not squandering your energy on things that distract you from a higher purpose. So, to practice brahmacharya, it can be more helpful to think about the intention to stay connected to source, than to focus solely on restricting your behavior. If you can find your connection to source, your cravings for “lesser” distractions and addictions will naturally become less compelling.

Some teachers and traditions translate brahmacharya as celibacy, although this translation seems related to the historical practice of teaching yoga to young men. Celibacy can be one expression of brahmacharya, but it is a rather limited form of brahmacharya. Sexual behavior is just one way we can distract ourselves and waste our energy.

Aparigraha is the fifth yama described in the Yoga Sutras, and it is often translated as “non-hoarding”.  Like with the other yamas, it is easy – and somewhat distracting – to focus on the behavior and not the intention. The practice of aparigraha is not about giving up all your possessions. It is about giving up the belief that your happiness depends on your ability to hold on to what you think you “own”.  What you think you own is not just your material belongings, but your time, your relationships, your memories, and your beliefs. When you have freedom from this belief, it is almost irrelevant what you actually own or possess.

So, aparigraha can also be translated as “non-attachment”, which more accurately captures the intention to let go of the fear and clinging associated with trying to protect what we own, or protect ourselves against loss.
That wraps up our information on the Yamas – the moral codes/ethical disciplines.

Questions?  Comments….. please help us keep our blog interactive….. we will be posting so much more in 2011 and we are excited to have your contibutions!




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