Chastity is not a very popular notion. Many modern day yogis, myself included, might not be so keen to the idea of brahmacharya, if celibacy were a requirement for adhering to the yamas.
A more modern interpretation of brahmacharya is maintaining vitality or tempering excesses. Ancient yogis would practice chastity in order to have more energy to devote to yoga, meditation and raising the collective consciousness.
This idea makes a little more sense to me. I am definitely a person of excess and seem to completely throw myself obsessively into habits, both good and bad. Moderation, balance, a little of this and that has always been a problem for me. I ran a marathon before ever running a 5K or half-marathon. I have a real problem with eating till I feel like I am full, instead of satiated.
I do not maintain my vitality or energy very well. I go all in. This has not worked out that great for me. It leaves me feeling drained, spent and takes the joy out of previously enjoyable activities (like running).
Yoga has helped me become more aware of maintaining vitality and trying to practice moderation. I have been trying to temper my excesses and question my motivations before I throw myself into something.
I chose Child’s Pose or Balanasana to practice brahmacharya. This pose is calming and helps to re-regulate the breath. I often remind my students that this is a pose they can come to anytime during class, whether it is cued or not. This is a pose to find when you feel you have lost your breath, when you need to sit a pose out or when you simply need a moment of privacy.
I have been much better about being honest with myself in my yoga practice, and finding this pose when I am feeling overheated or overworked. However, I still need to work on finding the principles of this pose off of my mat. Can I take a moment to stop and re-connect with my breath before I make a decision? Can I pay more attention to my breath and body to maintain more vitality?