Brahmacharya is most often translated to celibacy. So what that means is that you must take celibacy to do yoga. You didn’t know that? Just kidding. So what does brahmacharya even mean?
As I was taught brahmacharya is that it means you are engaged in what it is all about. you live in brahma which is the divine. A person who is engaged in what it is all about will be less interested in having hot sex with every person he/she sees.
Brahmacharya in a modern world
Now, I think it is important to look at brahmacharya in a contemporary way as we are all householders and you are most likely not living in celibacy. So I think when talking about brahmacharya in today’s modern world I think we could perhaps talk about sexual conduct and sexual consent. As mentioned we are householders, and we function in the world. We are allowed to have sex.
In my opinion – and many other’s opinions – it is about taking care of your sexual energy. In my opinion this for instance means that you shouldn’t cheat on your partner. Also, by cheating you are not practicing the first two yamas either (Ahimsa and Satya). By cheating you are not truthful and you are hurting another person.
But it’s also about ethical sexual conduct – consensual agreement. Granted, yes, this is a very liberal interpretation of brahmacharya but I don’t stand alone in this. But what this means is that you can have hot sex with anyone and everyone as long as you have consent. Just to clarify this is my (and many others) belief, it is not in the scripture, and this is probably the most liberal interpretation you will ever get of brahmacharya.
According to the scripture if you live in brahamacharya you will retain your vital forces and you will get special powers. You will get very strong and energetic, perhaps also a little crazy 😉
Again, these are my beliefs and interpretations and how I was taught this yama. You don’t necessarily have to agree with everything I say or believe. In fact, I encourage you to seek out other interpretations as I have done over the years. This is just the interpretation that resonates the most with me and how I believe we as householders can practice this yama in a contemporary world.