Happy Thursday, y'all! Today I'll introduce the fourth yama, brahmacharya.
Though the traditional meaning of brahmacharya is celibacy (and, in fact, some yoga traditions do practice this), a more attainable interpretation is moderation. Anything can be done in excess, even seemingly healthy habits like exercise, sleep, and - yes - yoga.
A practical way to begin incorporating brahmacharya in daily life is to become aware of your habits. Habits are routine, daily, and, if not controlled, are usually done in excess. The power of habits, both good and bad, is that they are done unconsciously. In order to break a bad habit, we must first become fully aware of when and why we do them.
We all have our own personal preferences for indulgence or escape. For example, my personal habit is to sleep when I feel overwhelmed. This may not sound like the worst thing in the world but it is definitely counterproductive when what I really need is action to get out of an overwhelming situation.
The first thing I do when I feel the urge to sleep is to simply notice that I am feeling overwhelmed and tired.
Second, I briefly check-in with myself just to make sure that my sleepiness is not related to an actual lack of sleep or sickness (which is rarely the case).
Next, once I've determined that I'm being triggered by some stress I can take action to wake myself up. Usually it's a simple physical movement like jumping up and down for one minute or going to do the dishes. This usually does the trick and allows me to start working on what needs to get done. If I begin to slip back into my haze, I just repeat the process :)
By bringing awareness to our daily habits, we are doing yoga. We are making the unconscious conscious and practicing moderation.
So, next time you reach for that cigarette, hit the snooze button, flip on the t.v., etc., try experimenting with this:
1. Simply notice your impulse to act out of habit, without judgement.
2. Check-in with yourself. Notice your feelings, both physical and mental.
3. Physically disrupt your actions by leaving the room, taking a brief walk, breathing consciously, or drinking some water. Really, it's up to you to find what works best in your situation.
I'd love to hear any mind/body hacks you have that have helped in the past!