Wednesday, December 28, 2005

"The world is sexy"...

So says Sri Swami Sivananda (who would very likely disapprove of this photo and the notion of yoga as a tool for better sex) in his The Practice of Brahmacharya.

I started thinking about the practice of "brahmacharya". For those who don't know, "brahmacharya" is one of the "eight limbs of yoga". Traditionally, it is the practice of celibacy. Sometimes it is considered to be the practice of modified celibacy with sex permitted only at certain prescribed times. Some don't even like to USE the word celibacy with regard to the practice of "brahmacharya", instead construing it broadly to fit the realities of our modern "sexy" world as "conservation of vital energy".

Do people practice Brahmacharya as celibacy? Feel free to comment anonymously on this one.



samasthiti said...

Iyengar discusses this in his new book, though he applies it to our modern householder life. More of a staying committed to your partner, not having any extra curricular sex. Or not going out and sewing your oats all over the place if you are single. Either one of these really depletes your personal vital energy.
The whole having sex only during the evening, only during certain days of the woman's cycle.. I can't go for that. With kids your lucky to find any odd time to have sex even without consulting the moon etc!!

Tiffersll said...

Sexy and celibacy? Never thought I would hear those words in the same area. I'm not really sure what branmacharya is...sounds cool. lol

Karen said...

Here are a few thoughts from a zen perspective. The third of the Five Precepts is to abstain from misconduct done in lust.

Sergio said...

My humble opinion is that sex is for us to enjoy. However, it is, from my point of view, a way of showing and giving love, so I don not conceive sex outside a partnership frame (does that make sense?)

Anonymous said...

Sex has been so over hyped in our patriarchal society. The main purpose is for the continuation for the survival of the human species. For one it's been turned into this huge societal industry because of the many different taboos that surround it. It's been trapped into so many different human emotions and attachments in the human pschye that some people actually think they can't live with out it. I think this attitude is insane, it's truly just a head trip that has been further planted in your psyche by the media outlets-- movies, commercials, soap operas, tv shows, advertsing etc. I also think that men always get off way to easy in the sex equation and since we live in a non matriarchal society there is an emphasis put on sex( ie. birth control pills for women, violent porn etc etc) that may have been different if the tables had been turned. Remember ladies the idea of marraige was originally based on purely property ownership, that combined with the fact that sex has often been turned into this power/dominance thing... in essence you didn't need to be "in love" with your property to make them submit to you.

I will say that having sex with your partner or partners can be a thing of beauty but I am not convinced that it is at the core of what can truly bond you with someone. And I think thats why so many get hurt around sex issues because in the modern world because there is this huge attachment to the act and what it "means". In reality it really doesn't mean much in the scheme of things. And I think when looked at in this way the practice of celibacy or some form of it makes better sense and can be a lot easier for those wanting to try it.

Essentially the creator gave our species and others related to us a way to enjoy each others company and in return create a way to symbolize that enjoyment in the production of new people that are a combo of the persons whose comapny it is we enjoy.I think there is much beauty in that but I'm not convinced that it is as neccessary as some folks make it out to be.

yoga chickie said...

Awesome, awesome comment. Why go anonymous on something so incredibly well-written? But, anyway, seriously, thanks for the insights.


Anonymous said...

thanks for the kind words. Being anonymous suits me best. I had friend who when hearing that I was really into yoga comment" well you know yoga is really just about learning how to have better sex ala the Kama Sutra, Tantra, etc. etc ...."
I remember being kind of offended by the comment, as i had never thought about yoga and sex in the same thought, eventhough i knew what the Kama Sutra was, and also Tantra. I mean if having great sex is an offshoot of being a devoted yogi then hey thats great. But that was never a focus for me, and still is not. One of my main goals was in hopes that i would be able to clear my "channels" a little more so that I could have better insight into this world and others but thats another story all together....

Anyway I guess I feel strongly on the idea of celibacy and have tried it from time to time. Sex is a very powerful medium and even as an artist(which I am) I have found it can even cloud my artistic vision, drain my creative energy. But thats just me. I'm very careful about who I have sex with for many different reasons-- artisticly and also just physically because as a young woman artist bearing children could chnage the direction of my artistic vision--perhaps for the better, one can never know really, but I don't like birth control pills, or shots and condoms suck-- though I have always used them because I don't like STD's! So my form of birth control is usually just plain abstinence hence my views on celibacy.

With all that being said I would love to make wild passionate lovemaking with another devoted yogi if I could just find him or her even! though honestly i like guys more. Anyone ever notice how hot most long time ashtangis are? I've studied with a lot of different long time ashtangi teachers from all over and they are all so beautiful!

yoga chickie said...

Yes...long-time ashtangis do tend to be very physically beautiful, both men and women. Perhaps it is not just the way they look, per se, but the way they carry themselves, or perhaps an aura of groundedness about them.

I have to weigh in with agreement on your views. I think sex is overplayed in our society to the detriment of many. Girls are oversexualized at such an early age. Young women thinking they have to be open to threesomes and the like so that they can appear sexier to guys. I have a friend whose marriage is now over because he became addicted to sex - with other women. He discovered an online "dating" service that is basically an escort service without fees. Over the course of a year, he managed to sleep with, I don't know, something like 20 women. I don't know what sex even means to someone like that or to the women he is having sex with.

You're wise to conserve your energy in the way that you are. I am not making a judgement that sex is a waste of energy - just that sex has the power to sap energy in negative ways.


samasthiti said...

In Ayuerveda, too much sex is said to deplete your ojas. It is your life force, the stuff that makes your eyes sparkle your face glow. Yogis tend to build up a lot of this ojas through practice and through their healthy life stlyes( rest, wholesome food, yoga), which is part of that attractiveness they have.

Ayuerveda warns against sex when you are depleted in any way, which is so different from our western culture which says more sex is better( also more stuff, more money, more food, more, more, more!). That's what I love about ayuerveda, it's all about finding balance. Everything needs to be in balance to keep you healthy.

As far as abstinence, until you feel like someone is worth sharing your whole person with comes along, I think it's worth it.

But I have to say this, I think that ashtanga practice is way better than sex. Way better. I think even if I wasn't married with two kids I would say that too!

Yoga Life said...

Hi Yoga Chickie, Whoops, Brahmacharya is one of the 10 yamas and niyamas which are 2 of the 8 limbs, so technically they are part of the 8 limbs but usually not presented that way, since the limbs themselves are the Yamas and Niyamas....

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I live by a duck pond. I used to live by the East River. I don't work. I used to work a lot. Now, not so much. I used to teach a lot of yoga. Now not so much. I still practice a lot of yoga though. A LOT. I love my kids, being outdoors, taking photos, reading magazines, writing and stirring the pot. Enjoy responsibly.


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