December 13, 2021
Let’s Talk about Sex… as it Relates to Yoga
As most humans well understand, there is a basic biological function to having sex. It’s our primary method of reproduction. In this regard, sex can be understood as a creative act.
But sex, as most humans also well understand, can also be a highly pleasurable act. A source of genuine ecstasy, in many cases. Because of this, sex is something that many people find themselves craving even when they have no intention of reproducing.
To be clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with having sex purely for pleasure. In fact, there’s a lot that’s healthy and wonderful and very right about it. Where it can become problematic is when people begin overindulging and/or using sex as an escape from other issues.
In this way, sex can become a distraction – a form of self-sabotage, even – on one’s spiritual path. And a very common one, at that. As Mr. Iyenger wrote in Light on Yoga, “Nothing scatters the mind more than lust.”
Given this reality, and considering that one of goals of yoga is to help us harmonize our interactions with other people, it should come as no surprise that the subject of sexuality is addressed in the Yamas, the five ethical observances that form the bedrock of yogic philosophy. As many students of yoga know, the fourth yama is a concept known as Brahmacharya, which is often interpreted either as “celibacy” or encouragement toward some form of sexual continence. But while this explanation isn’t wrong, per se, it’s a bit incomplete.
As the renowned teacher Georg Fuerstein explains in his book The Lost Teachings of Yoga, the word “Brahma” refers to the creative principal of the universe, and the word “Charya” means “to move within.”
Put together, “Brahmacharya” literally means “to move in accordance with the creative principle of the universe.” In other words, it is encouraging us not to squander our creative potential, and in this way the practice of yoga is inviting us to consider that as much as reproduction is essential to our existence, so is creativity itself. It is through creative expression, after all – making and appreciating art, cooking, tending to a garden, raising children and/or growing a business, etc. – that we find connection to our own souls, and where is the joy or meaning in life without that?
So what do we do with this information?
Well, one option is simply to white knuckle it and try to resist all potentially self-destructive desires by sheer force of will. Another, perhaps more enjoyable and effective option, is to look to the chakra system, which provides a map to help us understand the subtler dimensions of our being, as well as how to navigate our lives.
If you’ve ever studied the chakras, you may know that the 2nd chakra, which is located just beneath the navel, is considered the energetic center of sexuality and creativity, i.e., the forces behind reproduction, making art, building a business, raising a family, etc. As such, this chakra is said to govern our ability to create the life we want for ourselves.
You may also know that the 2nd chakra pairs with the 5th chakra, otherwise known as the throat chakra, which is considered the energetic center of communication, and thus governs our ability to express ourselves creatively.
Essentially, what this means is that the chakras are encouraging us to give expression to our creative impulses. So the next time you’re feeling a little lusty, if there’s no one you really want to have sex with, or the person and/or people you want to have sex with aren’t available, maybe consider that what you’re ultimately feeling is simply a creative impulse, and instead of trying to suppress it or release it in a way that doesn’t benefit you, maybe pull out your journal… or your art supplies… or some random ingredients in the kitchen… and make something, and see if it doesn’t help you get to a better place.
Good luck, and as always, below are some recommended practices: