Iam 34 and practicing brahmacharya for the last 1 yr 8 mths. I was trying to understand the relationship between brahmacharya and weight loss that i observed in my body (some of it is muscle loss as well).
Iam wondering if LONG TERM brahmacharya (more than 1 year etc) could result in lower Testosterone hormone, and this in turn could result in weight/muscle loss, since Testosterone is an important hormone for muscle growth (anabolism).
My reasoning is that by long term brahmacharya, the body gets a signal that one is not going to be having much sexual activity, and hence by "use it or lose it" logic, the body naturally reduces the testosterone hormone. Perhaps by the same logic (and perhaps as a consequence of lower T ?), the semen production also starts decreasing due to long term brahmacharya.
I've seen reports that say celibacy is useful to "conserve energy" and useful for bodybuilding / boxing etc, but could it be that this applies only on short term like a few weeks / months. In short term conservation, the body still is habituated to the drive, so it stores up the accumulated energy which may be useful for bodybuilding etc. But in long term conservation, if my above line of reasoning is right, the T hormone levels drop and hence one finds it more and more difficult to maintain muscle mass. Could this be the reason we find many yogis/monks thin ? Ofcourse they may not be lifting weights that much, so that could be another factor leading to muscle loss.
Overall, my point is that long term brahmacharya + Yoga sadhana MAY result in decreased T hormone levels (and also decreased appetite, decreased intake of food ?) resulting in loss of weight/muscle.
Please share your overall thoughts on this line of thinking.
Levels of the male sex hormone (testosterone) rise further to a week of abstinence and thereafter settle down into equilibrium further to continued Brahmacharya.
As per medical science, low testosterone becomes common in normal men leading a life of seminal wastage (a life of non-Brahmacharya) as they begin to age, especially after the age of 30 or so. It's symptoms are generally seen in the form of fatigue, decreased libido, difficulty with erections, weight gain in the form of fat and loss of muscle mass. On the other hand, high testosterone is known to lead to possible heart problems, skin acne, hair loss, irritability and aggression, liver damage and mood swings. Hence testosterone is a very important hormone on which the overall health, strength, vitality and well being of a man depend upon. An increase or decrease of this hormone beyond permissible limits has negative effects on physical and mental health. The regulation and production of exactly the right quantity of testosterone is required for optimum health, well being and vitality of the body.
The practice of long term, unbroken Brahmacharya with yogic practices of Bandha, Pranayama and long meditation results in producing exactly the right quantity of the hormone. This is a process which is unavailable to the common man wasting his seed. Such a perfect state of balance would have existed in the common man only in his early teens, just after the onset of puberty when the body was replete and complete with all hormones further to the 12-13 years of natural Brahmacharya from birth. This state of ideality lasts for a few years after the onset of puberty and gradually turns into imbalance as one nears one's 20's if the reproductive fluid is lost often in recreational sexual activity. In the normal man leading the life of a non-Brahmachari, the body has to constantly compensate the loss of sex hormones lost during ejaculation. It accomplishes this function at the cost of health and vitality of the other living tissues. Eventually, the ability of the body to re-compensate this loss diminishes (seen notably after the mid thirties) and this leads to low levels of testosterone and its after effects.
The apparent weight loss that you describe is perfectly normal for anyone practicing a life of Yoga and Brahmacharya and is the result of an altogether different reason. It is a sign of health and not the opposite. Further to the production of the correct and right levels of testosterone (as was during early teenage) due to prolonged Brahmacharya, three important changes among many other minor changes take place in the body:
1. The tendency for accelerated cell multiplication within the system reduces.
2. The bio-magnetism within the living cells increases (as was in teenage).
3. Increased Ojas in the Linga sharira (astral body), prolongs the life of living cells in the Sthula sharira (physical body).
These three major changes are the foundations which act as a basis for slowing down the ageing process in the Brahmachari Yogi. How is this so? To understand this, we will first have to get clear with what actually constitutes ageing.
Ageing is the result of irreversible degeneration and decay within the living cells of an organism. The body is in perfect condition, full of health and vitality during the teens. As one progresses towards the twenties (with the loss of reproductive fluid) the perfect state of health very slightly starts to wane. After the mid twenties and near the late twenties, the body starts a more noticeable leaning towards degeneration in one wasting his reproductive fluid for recreation. To compensate for this degeneration, the body of a normal man produces more living cells. This is what leads to obesity and an increase in girth during the initial stages of ageing in the normal man or woman. It is generally seen in men and women starting from the ages of 20-25 and reaching a peak near the age of 50 or so. In the next stage of ageing (seen from 50 or so onward into late old age), the body even starts to lose the ability to produce as many cells as are being debilitated. In other words, its ability to add more cells (that lead to weight gain earlier) itself reduces. Then, there is irreversible loss of muscle mass, weakness, loss of vitality and severe probability of disease and decay. The person becomes unhealthy and thin due to rapid loss of muscle mass and vital mass. This is completely irreversible and permanent.
Coming back to the three points mentioned earlier, conservation and transmutation of the vital fluid through resorption in a man or woman enriches all the living cells within with much Prana (vital energy) and drastically reduces their decay and ageing. Since the cells continue to function normally, the body of such a Brahmachari does not send signals for rapid cell multiplication as in case of the normal man. This immediately stops an increase in the girth or size of the entire body. The body of the Brahmachari becomes lean, tight and taut as in case of a person in his or her teens. Ojas in the person which is nothing but a kind of electricity holds together the living cells with much grip and tenacity (just as an electromagnet holds metal objects when charged with electricity). This is a part of bio-magnetism. Bio-magnetism is naturally at its peak in a person during ones teens unto the early twenties. It is this energy which is responsible for the youthfulness of a young person. This is why obesity and slackness in flesh or accumulation of fat does not generally occur in one's teens. The same process re-activates in the Brahmachari who is into prolonged and unbroken Brahmacharya beyond a year or so. This leads to a tightening of skin and flesh and slows down ageing very significantly. The compacting nature of the process makes it appear as though the body is becoming thinner. In reality, excessive fat gets discarded and the required amount of muscle mass is compacted (excess is shed). This can be checked through a fat-percentage test. In other words, the body more or less reverts to the size it was in further to complete growth that it achieved in the late teens or early twenties which is its correct and healthy size.
This reversal into a hormonal mode similar to that during the teens is what is responsible for slowing of ageing in the Brahmachari. With proper Yogic practices in Brahmacharya, the aspirant can reduce the ageing process to a very bare minimum. It is clearly mentioned in the Yoga-Tattva Upanishad that the body becomes 'krushaka' (taut and wiry) in case of those who practice Yoga & Brahmacharya and this acts as the foundation for health, longevity and youthful beauty. Wrinkles and sagging of skin reduces greatly. The earlier one starts the practice, the better are the results.
In the Yogi who is into continuous and unbroken Brahmacharya with long meditation, his vital life energy goes towards becoming Ojas and into the production of Soma (amrit or divine nectar in the Sahasrara chakra of the brain) which is then used for revitalization both normally and especially in the state of Samadhi. Here, the vital energy does not flow copiously into the muscles beyond required limits. As much as is required for good health and strength is inducted into the muscles and not more. It will flow copiously to the muscles in that man who is only into muscle building or exercise and NOT into spiritual Sadhana or meditation. In such a person, complete Brahmacharya cannot take place as the percentage of semen identified for conversion into spiritual energy gets lost through a wet dream. The nature of conserved semen is such that it has to be channelized into spiritual energy for complete sublimation. Else, a part of it flows out and gets lost. Hence in such people merely limiting themselves to physical exercise or sports without deep meditation, this part of semen flows out without doubt in the occasional wet dream even if Brahmacharya has been thorough. However, they do get full benefits of Brahmacharya as regards the body but little benefits in terms of spirituality.
This is the reason monks/yogis appear wiry and thin. But this tightness should not be mistaken for the loss of weight/thin body occurring due to disease or ill-health in non-Brahmacharis due to age etc.. The wiriness of the Brahmachari is a sign of lithe strength, health, vitality and bio-magnetism of the finest degree. If the Brahmachari was previously lifting weights (before Brahmacharya) and had much muscle weight, he will generally find that this excessive muscle mass (which is bad for the heart in the long run) will now reduce leading to a taut and slim body which is fresh and young. This happens further to Prana (vital energy) flowing into the brain in large amounts further to meditation and the conversion of vital energy into Ojas (which earlier became muscle girth).
On the whole, one can rest at ease when he finds the above changes occurring and know that the body is producing just the right amounts of testosterone (neither more nor less but lesser than that which was produced through muscle building). As long as proper food/sleep (at the right time) and spiritual activity is carried out, there is no cause for worry. Hence in the advanced stages of Brahmacharya, it makes sense to reduce on muscle building exercises and switch over to yogic asana-s (postures), for these complement Brahmacharya and do not contradict it. Muscle building in the gym produces much testosterone (leading to production of more sex hormones) and leads to sexual aggression and irritation. This is not the aim of the advanced Brahmachari, for meditation cannot be taken into Samadhi (super-consciousness) by such an irate mind. In fact, the true Brahmachari who is spending much time on advanced meditation will gradually develop less of an inclination for muscle building. It is a natural shift, for his vital energy is depositing in the brain (as Ojas/Tejas/Soma) and not in muscle girth beyond the required limits. However, weight lifting or muscle building can be carried out moderately by beginner Brahmacharis performing simple meditation (as they have not yet reached the stage to practice advanced meditation). Once the Yogi becomes a complete Urdhvareta, muscle building does not cause problems as Veerya is not formed physically.
ॐ तत् सत्
(That Supreme being is the absolute truth)