The holidays can leave you feeling exhausted and burned out. Practicing the yamas, particularly brahmacharya, can help us conserve our energy and feel refreshed as we move towards 2021. If you want to find out what brahmacharya is and how to practice it this new year, read on!
What Brahmacharya Is
In Sanskrit, “brahma” means “infinity” and “charya” means “moving in infinity.” In Yoga, Hinduism, and Buddhism, brahmacharya pertains to celibacy or abstinence. The age old yogis believed that moving away from sexual pleasure helps conserve energy and strength.
To the modern, everyday yogi, how can we apply brahmacharya? More than just abstinence, the concept of brahmacharya reminds us that we are more than just instinct and sensation.
To put it simply, brahmacharya emphasizes that nourishing our mind and spirit are just as important as taking care of our bodily needs.
That said, if sex (or anything physical, really) feels draining, try to refocus your attention elsewhere to help maintain your energy levels.
How To Practice Brahmacharya This New Year
1. Don’t feel pressured to workout.
Worried that you gained weight over the holidays? Don’t worry about it too much! The holidays are all about celebrating, having fun, and resting. If you feel the need to move, consider going for a walk, doing Tai Chi, or practicing Yin Yoga.
Brahmacharya is also very much related to ahimsa or non-violence and compassion. Do you really need that HIIT workout, if your only motivation is to burn up those holiday calories? Food is meant to be enjoyed, and movement is meant to be a fulfilling experience. The New Year is the perfect time to simply relax.
Brahmacharya teaches us to conserve our energy. Remember that you have the entire year to make progress in your workouts! For now, take the time to give your body the rest and restoration that it definitely needs.
2. Take time to meditate.
As mentioned earlier, brahmacharya highlights the spirit. When we practice brahmacharya, we recognize that we are more than just our bodies—we have a mind and spirit to look after as well.
Why not take time to meditate? Take a few minutes to sit down or lie down, then scan your body and observe the breath. You can also follow a guided meditation, to help you keep focused and inspired during your practice.
Remember that meditation is any activity that helps you feel refreshed and renewed, and also helps you access the present moment. Drawing, painting, writing, or listening to music are all forms of meditation. Take your pick and unleash your creative side!
3. Connect with people that inspire you.
Most importantly, let go of people who drag you down and drain you. This can be very hard during the holidays, especially since Christmas and New Year can often leave us in the midst of toxic family members and friends.
Practicing mindfulness can be especially helpful when dealing with toxic family members during the holidays. If your mother-in-law or a boisterous uncle is barraging you with criticism, check in with your mind for negative thoughts. Then, feel free to disengage from the conversation.
Protect your needs. If sitting next to that aunt makes you upset, then don’t. If staying in your parents’ house triggers you, consider staying elsewhere. Most importantly, take time for self-care after your dinners and reunions.
4. Clean up.
Your physical space greatly affects your mental and spiritual condition. A cluttered room can leave you feeling disorganized and confused.
Get organized this New Year! Rearrange your room, get rid of belongings you no longer need, and consider donating some pre-loved clothes, towels, blankets, and books to charities and foundations.
You’ll be amazed with how a sparkling clean room can make you feel so much better. Practicing brahmacharya also reminds us that living simply can help us feel more relaxed and at ease.
5. Honor your boundaries.
Not in the mood to go out? It’s okay to cancel plans and take a raincheck. Honoring your boundaries can mean respecting the limits of your body, mind, and emotions.
Respecting your personal limits can help you conserve your energy and thus, practice brahmacharya successfully. If you’ve been working too hard at the office (or even just from home), then take time off from work to just rest and regroup. Additionally, let it be your resolution this year to truly practice work-life balance.
Take a break from social media as well. This doesn’t necessarily mean deleting all your accounts. Try to abstain from scrolling for hours on end, or sticking to your laptop all day. Your eyes will thank you!
Now that you know what brahmacharya is and how to practice it in the New Year, try to practice at least one of those tips we mentioned above! Let us know if any of these work for you. Happy New Year!