The Path to Freedom is Choosing Less

What yoga teaches us about moderation

Photo by Jan on Unsplash

Walking with God” is the literal translation of Brahmacharya, though most often defined as moderation or non-excess. It is the fourth Yama of the 8 Limbs of Yoga.

This is the fifth post in a series of posts about the 8 Limbs. We are still exploring the first limb, but if you’d like to read the other four and an overview first, go here. I’ll wait.

God provides all we need. Our human condition leans toward lack without a strong spiritual foothold. Our minds incessantly chatter — this isn’t enough, I’m not enough, I want more.

The practice of Brahmacharya asks us to look at the way we live. It reminds us to practice gratefulness for all we have each day instead of looking for ways to add more.

Ever heard the saying, ‘mo money, mo problems’? It’s a pointer to the truth of Brahmacharya.

Money is not the problem. Having nice stuff is fine too. But when the money and the stuff rule you, problems take hold — and quickly spiral out of control.

My truth is that the more stuff I have the more weighed down I feel.

I am drawn to the idea of minimalism, and though I’m not a minimalist per se, I do regularly look at my life and work at ways to consume less. My mind is less agitated when I keep life simple. I am more free and available.

A few practices I engage in regularly that fall in line with minimalism (and Brahmacharya) …

  • Only wearing clothes out of a Capsule Closet
  • Adopting a ‘uniform’ for the season (wearing nearly the same thing everyday for weeks on end). Disclaimer: I have several items that are the same or nearly the same so everything I wear is clean.
  • Getting rid of things each time I buy something new
  • Regularly assessing need vs. want

Brahmacharya reminds us that we are already enough. It’s our minds and past conditioning that muddy our way of thinking.

Addictions, compulsions, hoarding, etc. all start by not practicing Brahmacharya.

  • Wasting time on social media (maybe for hours!) vs setting a time limit or staying off completely for periods of time
  • Too much wine and a hangover (or acting the fool) vs a fun night of laughter among friends using moderation
  • The joy of playing a scratch off lottery ticket vs depleting your life savings to win big
  • Savoring that piece of cake vs feeling bloated and sick from having too much
  • Wearing the same clothing and feeling good in them vs having too many choices and feeling scattered. There are enough hard choices in a day — clothes shouldn’t be one of them.

Moderation actually provides more joy as we are able to fully experience whatever we are doing, eating, practicing vs. allowing our minds to get intertwined in the situation, demanding more with the end result of dissatisfaction.

Taking only what you need and living within your means is the path to freedom. Too much of anything is never a good thing.

Brahmacharya honors our true essence and the life force within us. Practicing gratitude and mindfulness help us stay present to this Yama.

And each time you misstep (because you will — you’re human!), forgive yourself and practice some more.

Thanks for reading. Did you enjoy? Please tap the 💚 clappy hands (as many times as you’d like) to recommend it to others. Namaste …


Hi! I’m Heather, a writer and yoga educator from SE Ohio. I share daily-ish here as part of my spiritual practice, and am working on my first book, Yoga Prayers. Download the first 25 pages, A Prelude to Yoga Prayers, for a brief introduction into yoga history and philosophy — and let me know what you think! Yogis, I’m also looking for stories to include in the full version of the book — how you came to yoga, what you’re learning, how you’re applying the 8 Limbs. Reach out!