Urban Translations: Bramacharya


True bramacharya is quite like it sounds: that feeling of bra-burning liberation. The practice of non-attachment to another for the sake of yoking to one's Self is the greatest freedom, and a prime human right.

If someone has trespassed upon that right, there are a few poses for restoration that we will chat more about in a later post, but first we must understand the shit... I mean, the citta (mind-stuff) blocking the path to reunion with the body. Trust, we know that assault leaves you with a long-lasting out-of-body experience. Fret not, that too shall pass.

Bramacharya readily translates to "celibacy." However, it is not merely abstaining from sex. It is also abstaining from pornographic thought. What a task that is in today's world, especially for us Internet dwellers!

To engage in celibacy of the mind, one must realize that it is possible to view the human body clinically, instead of sexually. Yes, even after the mind has been imprinted with the experience of intercourse (whether visually, sonically or actually).

There is a danger here, however, in becoming too clinical (ask a doctor), and not being able to again recognize the humanity of the body. Balance is everything.

Similarly, we must recognize that one could see something nonsexual, like Jessica Simpson's child embracing her femininity (not yet mature enough to recognize it as a woman would) as something perverse. The diseased, perverted mind would also see, for example, the Washington Monument as a phallic symbol instead of, perhaps, a middle finger symbolizing patience (longest finger to the sky, y'all).

To restore balance, to see the beauty of both sexuality and simple sensuality without it becoming an emotional trigger one way or another is bramacharya.


Once this emotional balance is in place, the physical practice may be engaged. You will learn when to hug, when not to hug (I prefer high fives, if you see me IRL), when to speak and look someone in the eye, who to kiss and who needs a minute. You will cease the constant seeking of a lover or even a flirty friendship and you will become more at peace with the process of falling in love with yourself.

Iyengar recommends baddha konasana for this (see photo above for a lovely variation). There is also a "new pose" known as aumieasana, or "the homie," that is recommended.

When you finally choose to commit to yourself, to being alive in the livest way possible, you will then also cease violent behavior towards yourself -- the wasting of our vital life force (orgasm), overeating, over-drinking, smoking, missing out on sleep, too much time staring at these screens... This form of balance, lifestyle balance is bramacharya, urbanically.

(And yes, practicing bramacharya whilst in a loving relationship with another is too preferred. "Fidelity," as it is known among married persons, increases sexual and sensual pleasure at that moment when you are both ready).



DISTRICTiYOGA is a RYT-500 located in Washington, D.C. She often uses “namaste” as the first word uttered to students at the beginning of class, as well as the last. She began mindful yogic studies some 20 years ago in elementary school and began teaching formally in 2008.