40 Minutes

Lesson Five | Twists

Brahmacharya - Remember your own divinity

Sometimes Brahmacharya is translated as “abstinence.” However, when we break

down the word in Sanskrit, it more literally means “abiding in God/Divinity.” So let’s feel into

what that means ­­ to make a home inside of the Divine; to dwell in the remembrance that we

have a spark of the Divine within us. Abstinence from anything ­ sex, certain foods, certain

lifestyle choices ­ is a pretty extreme approach. It involves cutting things out of our life, and

saying an absolute “NO.” In contrast, the practice of abiding in Divinity asks us to be discerning,

and to contemplate “what choices best honor the Divinity within me?”

Instead of making hard and fast rules for myself like “No sugar ever” or “No spending this

month” etc, the subtle practice of Brahmacharya asks me to be in constant discernment about

my words, deeds, and thoughts to check that each of them honors the Divine in me. So I’ll ask

myself, would a little macaroon or a sweet treat really hit the spot right now? Would that make

me feel pampered? Or delight my tastebuds? Or am I really craving a nutritious snack with

protein? Or maybe I’m seeking out sweets because I’m tired or emotional, and a better choice

would be a nap or chatting with a trusted friend. The true practice of Brahmacharya is one of

vigilant discernment into what will honor our highest selves. When we see ourselves making

choices ­ financial, sexual, nutritional, or otherwise ­ that will deplete our energy, overextend our

resources, or result in us feeling icky afterward, then we need to set limits and redirect our

actions. On the flip side, life is to be enjoyed and savored, and the delights of tasty food,

mindful spending, and conscious intimacy are all ways of remembering that the Divine in us

takes joy in the miracle of embodiment. It feels good to have a body! That is the essence of

any Brahmacharya practice ­ for each of us to make personal choices that are right for us, and

treat our body as a house for the Divine.



What will this practice mean for the choices you make this week? How will Brahmacharya

inform your diet, lifestyle, and routine? On one page, I invite you to make a list of any blaring

red flags ­ issues, incidents, choices you might make this week that set off an internal alarm.

Red flags are those recurring issues that get us to compromise our highest self ­ examples

would be “every Friday night I stay up til 3am and drink too much a feel hungover on Saturday”

or “every time I shop at this particular store, I spend too much and use my credit card” or “every

time this topic comes up in conversation, I end up saying things I wish I could take back.”

On the other side of the page, I encourage you to contemplate healthier choices you could

make this week to honor yourself as a divine being. Make a plan of action that includes

alternatives. So don’t just say “this week I won’t drink or spend or speak about any

controversial topics.” Go deeper than that, and find the middle path where you will be happiest.

Create a livable budget for this week; plan for a few meals that indulge your tastebuds without

blowing your health­needs; carve out time for honest and open communication with people you

love and respect. This stuff involves creating new habits for ourselves. Making lists like these

ones in our journal will help us consciously approach the new week with an intention to live in a

way that honors our Divine self.



This week we’ll be using a mudra meditation technique. Mudras are sacred hand gestures that

have symbolic power. Take a comfortable seat on a chair or cushion and find good posture

throughout your spine. Then place your hands in this mudra position: The right hand is held

upright with palm flat and facing outwards (this hand symbolizes boundary­setting and warding

off ignorance and bad choices or lifestyle habits). The left hand rests in your lap with the palm

facing open and up (symbolizing acceptance of life’s gentle blessings and abidance in the

beauty, pleasure and delight of the Now). Spend 3-­10 minutes holding this powerful hand

gesture, with eyes closed, and steady breathing in and out through the nose. Imagine yourself

poised for Grace, balanced between extremes, making choices that honor the middle path and

support the Divine in you.



Craving some yoga practice time to share with others? This week I invite you to visit Yoga

Illumined studio on South Congress in Austin, TX. This is the location at which Courtney and I

filmed our video series! By visiting the studio, you’ll have access to a full range of props

including bolsters, blocks, massage balls, straps and blankets, as well as quality yoga

instruction from teachers who have studied the Yamas and Niyamas with Zoe! For those of you

who have never been to Yoga Illumined, a special introductory offer awaits you this week ­ $20

for unlimited classes all week long. Visit www.yogaillumined.com to sign up for the Newbie

Special and browse class schedule.