As I sit here on Saturday thinking about this week’s blog with the snow pouring down and the studio seeming too far away to brave, I have decided that I will have a fully restful day, no walking, no yoga. This is hard for me. I get twitchy and a bit guilt ridden when I don’t move so this is a good goal for me, relaxing, resting, especially given the injuries I am nursing again. Here I am again, trying to practice what I preach. Deep breath. And then another… 😊
Meditation on Brahmacharya – Lack of Excess
This week we focus on the fourth yama, Brahmacharya. It has many definitions ranging from the most traditional translation in Patanjali's Sutras of celibacy to the generally more current definition of moderation or lack of excess. While many new yogis focus on the “celibacy” definition, even yogis Iyengar and Desikachar talked more about being a true and honest partner in a monogamous relationship than literal celibacy (they had families themselves). When the “mind is freed from domination by the senses, sensory pleasures are replaced by inner joy” (Rolf Sovik).
One of the more common translations says that brahmacharya translates to “walking in God-consciousness”. This can mean turning our mind inward, balancing the senses which will lead us away from negative dependencies or cravings. It can also mean the wise use of energy. When practicing brahmacharya we can focus on maintaining vitality or saving and sustaining energy. We may practice brahmacharya by moderating our eating or drinking habits. For others it may mean avoiding activities that sap our energy in unhealthy ways, possibly in the books or games we play or movies that we watch.
T.K.V. Desikachar (in my fave book The Heart of Yoga) talks about brahmacharya saying the “word is composed of the root car, which means “to move”, and the word brahma, which means “truth” in terms of the one essential truth. We can understand brahmacharya as movement toward the essential”. He later says that brahmacharya “suggests that we should form relationships that foster our understanding of the highest truths”.
“Many illnesses can be cured exclusively by the remedy of love and compassion. These qualities are the ultimate source of happiness, and we need them in our innermost being”. – Dali Lama
There is much interesting reading on this topic, see links to some of the articles I enjoyed below.
Our Practice – Child’s Pose - Balasana
Let’s practice child’s pose, Balasana, to invoke brahmacharya. Picture totally improvised, snow coming down like crazy, no way to get to yoga studio, no mats in the house and too comfy in these cashmere sweatpants to get into yoga pants. Felt totally relaxing :)
As we come into our pose, maybe with knees wide, feet together, we sink down dropping our hips back towards our heels and breathe. This is enough. And while we think about how often this pose is just enough, just what we need in midst of a hectic day or as a pause during a more vigorous yoga practice, let’s think also about how where we are right now is “enough”. Instead of thinking about our lofty goals or what else we need to be happy or complete, let’s think about the completeness of where we are at this moment. We do not need more, there is no need for excess, right, here, and right now all is good.
Child’s pose is restorative and restful, it also gently stretches the hips, thighs and ankles. The pose can also be calming and help relieve stress and fatigue.
For more detail on the pose and its benefits see the yoga journal article below. I love the following quote from the article.
Renee Marie Schettler, of Yoga Journal says:
“I didn’t understand Child’s Pose for the longest time. That is, I understood the mechanics of the pose, but I misunderstood its intent,” In my early years of practicing yoga, Child’s Pose was something the teacher told us to do when we were exhausted. I took it to be something that was an alternative option, something ‘less than’ the more challenging poses. While in Child’s Pose, I remained tensed and ready to pounce on the pose that followed. Only in recent years, after practicing more Yin, have I started to comprehend the innate and exquisite value in quiet and stillness and surrender, as well as the release and strength that proceeds from that.”
Nurturing with Food – Minestrone Soup Redux
So today, during the storm, we have been cooking. Instead of anything new, however, we made some of our favorites including Cranberry Orange Muffins, Minestrone Soup and Homemade Chai. All of which I have featured in the blog before. Given the blustery weather, soup is necessary! I have the links to the muffins and soup below. I also think the lentil soup also on the blog would also be good today.
A reader noted in the dal recipe that I forgot to list a can of diced tomatoes in the ingredient list. I fixed it on the web - hope you enjoy it, another delicious comfort food dinner! Finally, thank you for all the compliments on the Vegetable Korma and the Portobello Stew, glad you enjoyed them!
See you on the mat!