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Brahmacharya in the life of the modern yogi: FOR and against yogic celibacy

Patanjali mentions brahmacharya in the list of mandatory ethical rules (s) for the successful practice of yoga. Today brahmacharya is usually translated as sexual abstinence or control of the sexual energy. Practicing yoga whether ancient celibacy and sexual abstinence useful if modern practice, says Sergei Agapkin .


What is brahmacharya? What is its role in yoga practice?

This issue goes beyond anatomy and physiology.
Brahmacharya should be considered in the context of not only yoga, but Indian culture in general. The term Brahmacharya is meant in many cases, very wrong. In general,
n donkey work of Swami Sivananda, brahmacharya became interpreted as sexual abstinence, even though nothing in this term does not interfere with sex.

Semantically, the word is from the roots of
Brahma and acharya . Acharya means “commitment” or “fully next.” The term also brahma can be regarded as a deity: that is brahmacharya as a commitment to the law of Brahma (Brahma gave laws to all living), Vedic path. In another embodiment, treatment, brahmacarya – data is following by a teacher, adherence guru . Again, as you see, it has nothing to do with either sex, nor with refraining from it.

Meaning of brahmacharya, when viewed in a historical context, is to follow the life cycle.
18-24 years old young man had to abstain from sexual activity, devoting themselves to study, because it was not yet ready to take responsibility for their children and family. Practice brahmacarya men differ for different starting from Indian varn system (cast) and ashramas (lifetimes). As Krishnamacharya said, “Brahmacharya for a family man is to meet his wife at the first request.” As you can see, all these definitions are very far from what we are accustomed to today understand by Brahmachari.

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Was the practice of abstaining from the ancient yogis?

If we turn to ancient texts, there are often found approval, contrary to the idea of sexual abstinence.
It never was about to Yogi avoided sex. There are certain rules that need to be observed. For example, the yogi could not refuse to have sex with a woman who could not conceive of her husband.

The Manu Smriti set out a system of rules that determine the behavior of members of contemporary society and continues to largely determine the social norms.
For example, a person should practice brahmacharya because of their age, which means that it will refrain from sexual activity until about 24 years, until the end of his period of apprenticeship or his parents did not marry. This is quite reasonable, because if he abruptly becomes a father (and no protection methods), then the chance that he will end education will become a master is reduced to zero in a traditional society. But when he marries, becomes grhastha (family man), that childbearing and marital duties would be his dharma. Therefore, all the rules of yama and niyama, which are set out in the yogic texts are meaningless without reference to the stage of life and caste (varna) person.

The practice of brahmacharya says relations regulated society, and it’s not just sex, it’s compliance with the rules and the performance of duties in all areas of life.


If we look at current research whether there is some benefit from sexual abstinence? Does the rejection of sex on the growth of the creative and spiritual potential of the human?

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We can look at the huge number of people who follow brahmacharya because of certain life circumstances.
These are the people who sit in prison and people who are in military service. In this and in another case, some important spiritual breakthroughs we do not see, on the contrary can observe the gradual degradation. That is the person for a couple of years of service in the army is not usually too moves in the spiritual and intellectual development. After returning from the army and already having sex, for the same two years, people usually reach much larger in its development. The same applies to places of detention. One can argue, saying that it is a compulsory brahmacharya. But the fact remains.


Many well-known spiritual teachers deliberately refuse sex life. Even as family men, men live with his wife in “spiritual marriage”, explaining that sex prevents spiritual realization.

I have in this respect there is a very great doubt, because causal relationships are often confused.
That is, a person lost the desire, and he explains his lack of some principle. I do not claim that this is so in all cases, but the possibility exists.

Human sexual behavior, regardless of gender related to testosterone levels.
Testosterone – the hormone that greatly affects a person, making it more active, passionarnym, giving him the power to change something else. Therefore some
periods of abstinence can sometimes help increase energy, vitality , play the role of “kick”, allowing the man to surrender to intense training or any other activity. But if the first body can react arousal and activation that took away his sex, then after a while, there will be adaptation and testosterone decline. Some studies suggest that yogis, especially those in low-protein vegetable diet, after a while drops testosterone levels and they are no longer interested in the opposite sex is not for ideological and for physiological reasons . Parallel to this, such people usually cease to take an active position in life, are very accommodating and tolerant.

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Be healthy and consciously practice!


On Yogasecrets.ru questions answered
Sergey Agapkin

Sergey Agapkin is the founder and teacher Agapkin Yoga Station, Ryazan Yoga ‘center, the Rector of the Institute of the traditional system of rehabilitation (Institute Yogaterapii), a teacher of yoga instructors preparation courses Moscow Ashtanga Yoga Center. He is a certified instructor Emergency First Response (№ EFR4657) and International Yoga Federation (IYF), a member of the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT) .

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