Brahmacharya is the fourth yama in the 8 limbs of yoga. It means ‘right use of energy’, and often translated to celibacy. It actually translate to ‘behaviour that leads to brahman’ which in other words mean behaviour that leads to a higher power/the divine/god.
The second book of the Yoga Sutras, sutra no. 38 states:
“By one established in continence, visor is gained”
Brahmacharya means ‘the way to the Divine’. We are all looking for happiness and joy, whether it is consciously or unconsciously. When we do not find it, we often settle for pleasure. Pleasure can be beautiful but is very limited. The deeper we go into pleasure, the deeper we attach ourselves to it. If the thing or person you have attached yourself to is taken from you, you will be crushed. When we live in this way, our existence becomes one of great attachments, which creates a lot of suffering. When one practices brahmacharya, it means that we are not setteling with pleasure, but rather want to find the source of inner happiness.
In brahamacharya, it is the sexual temptations that are most talked about. Maybe it’s because they are the hardest temptations to resist, or maybe it’s because it’s the biggest pitfall. Many people associate brahmacharya with celibacy, but it is mainly about having self-discipline to resist pleasure because one has a desire to achieve something greater.
Brahmacharya challenges us to make more conscious choices and to be more present in what we do and why we do it.
The reason why sex can be a big pitfall is because here one will be very deeply involved and therefore it creates very large amounts of karma. By conserving our sexual energy, we also preserve not only physical energy, but also mental, moral, intellectual and spiritual energy. When this energy is preserved, it is transformed into a subtle energy (ojas), which tones the whole personality, builds nerves, improves brain power and calms the mind. This energy again is what becomes our glow or aura.