Brahmacharya translates to Divine sexual etiquette, a practice and a way of life with the purpose of conserving one's sexual energy (for men, in particular, one's semen) so that it can be transformed into a more powerful form of energy, in other words, transmuting sexual energy (or Retas) into spiritual vigor (or Ojas). In the ancient Chinese philosophy of the Tao, sexual energy, which is the same as creative energy, is called Jing and it is to be conserved to promote a longer, more creative and healthier life. Jing is stored in our physical body, especially the kidneys, sperm and ova. We lose Jing energy through:
a) indulging in negative emotions b) having sex without using the tantric orgasmic upward draw, especially for men as they are losing their semen c) using drugs and alcohol d) smoking and using other stimulants e) sexual promiscuity, addiction to pornography, and f) having sex with a person who is not that emotionally/spiritually “healthy”.
Similar to the philosophy of the Vedas, in the Tao, this Jing energy can be transformed into Ching energy by the sexual organs, and then to CHI or life force, and then finally CHI can be transformed into Shen, which is spiritual energy. How you utilize these energies will determine whether or not you become a fulfilled, creative, passionate about life, well-adjusted person. If you do not practice some level of brahmacharya, your sexual energy can become blocked, suppressed, or expressed without proper control or awareness, and thus cause harm to you and/or others.
So how do we practice brahmacharya, then? The most extreme form of practicing brahmacharya is to diligently perform complex energetic practices, channelling and circulating sexual energy, of which the orgasmic upward draw is one, and to be celibate, which is a vow that monks, brahmacharis and sanyasis take. Fortunately, for those who endeavour to err more in the middle of the spectrum of conserving and channelling sexual energy, there are less extreme ways. For example,
a) we can avoid losing Jing by eliminating the things that I mentioned earlier on, or at least do those things in moderation, b) by cultivating love, joy and kindness as much as possible, as this will transform dysfunctional emotions stored in our organs, and then of course, by c) doing yoga or asana, but specifically applying mula bandha throughout our practice. Mula bandha is the root lock of the pelvic floor, and we apply it by squeezing the muscles that would stop you urinating midway. For men it is the perineum, and for women it is the vaginal or yoni muscles.
By applying mula bandha, the normal downward moving energetic wind or apana vayu that travels along the shushumna channel, is redirected to upward moving, facilitating conscious knowing, harnessing, and directing of your sexual and emotional drives.