Patanjali laid out an 8 Limbed Path of Yoga to connect with the deepest layers of Self and ultimately to find happiness. The 8-Fold Path consists of:
- Yama (how to treat others)- non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, virtuous sexuality and non-attachment
- Niyama (how you treat yourself)- cleanliness, contentment, discipline, self-study, surrender to something larger than you
- Asana (postures)
- Pranayama (breathwork)
- Pratyahara (withdraw of the senses)
- Dharana (concentration or focused mind)
- Dhyana (meditation)
- Samadhi (bliss or union with the divine)
Brahmacarya: Virtuous Sexuality
Brahmacarya is the fourth Yama. This is often translated at celibacy or chastity. The way I learned it from my teacher was something a bit more applicable in modern day life- moderation and virtuous sexuality (in thought, word and deed). In our culture it is easy to get caught up thinking we have to look or act a certain way to get the attention of those around us. This Yama asks us to step away from external support of who we are and to look within. In this way we meet other humans on the path, not other people who are here to fill a need within us. This Yama asks us to examine how much of our life is spent seeking approval (physically or otherwise) from those around us.
Moderation is key here. I believe this Yama asks us to look at our lives and ensure we are connecting in wholeness with those around us. Yamas are (after all) about how we treat other people. If we are involved in intimate relationships, this asks us to be clear that we honor others in their wholeness as we connect. In our modern times, this asks us to take a step back and be sure our motives of connection are honest, clear and loving. In this way, when we do connect it is a blessed event and one that brings you closer to spirit instead of further away.