Seeing a poster on the community board for “Family Yoga” or “Partner Yoga” usually implies an asana class or workshop that you and your family (or partner) can go to together, but there are other ways of drawing your family and friends into your yoga practice.
In a post I wrote outlining the eight limbs of yoga, I defined the practice of brahmacharya as the wise use of energy. In his book The Heart of Yoga, T.K.V. Desikachar elaborates on this concept of brahmacharya:
This word is composed of the root car, which means “to move,” and the word brahma, which means “truth” in terms of the one essential truth. We can understandbrahmacharya as movement toward the essential. […] More specifically, brahmacharyasuggests that we should form relationships that foster our understanding of the highest truths.
Drawing elements of Desikachar’s explanation into my understanding, I see the practice of brahmacharya as actively and intentionally moving your life in a direction that aligns with your deepest values and your greatest joys.
A common challenge to the consistent practice of brahmacharya is the easy way in which seemingly urgent things get in the way of the important things. For many of us, the urgent things often relate to work and productivity, accomplishing and acquiring, while the important things are our friends and family, our health and general well-being.
Your practice of brahmacharya might mean committing to leave work on time to be home with your family instead of staying at work an extra hour or two to finish up a project. It might mean choosing to have friends and family regularly into your home instead of occasionally having them over to a clean and ridiculously well put together version of your home.
The basis of this practice – this Family, Partner and Friend Yoga – is recognizing how important your relationships with your friends and family are to you. In the midst of all the things you will do and not do in your life, how much do you value cultivating and supporting deep connections with others?
Place yourself in the future and think about what you want to look back upon.
Once you have clarified your value for relationships, the next step is to ask yourself whether or not the ways you spend your time and energy accurately reflect the importance of these relationships. Does the way you are living your life communicate what you love and what you value?
If your day-to-day life does not reflect how important your friends and family are to you, the next step in your practice is to begin to find ways to move towards a life that does. This practice requires discipline, commitment and, most importantly, compassion. It is a life-long yoga practice to stay connected to our values in the midst of all the urgency that life throws our way, and it is an even deeper practice to commit to using our time and energy in ways that align with those values.