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Sober Yoga Girl: Brahmacharya: Non-Excess with Kristen Hutchinson

Brahmacharya is the practice of moderation. In this Philosophy Chat that was recorded live in the Sober Girls Yoga Facebook Group with Alex and Kristen, they speak about what the practice of moderation means to them and how to live with this practice in their daily lives. They offer some journal prompts and discussions. Join the Sober Girls Yoga Facebook group to tune into this live chat every Monday at 7am EST (7pm AWST!) Alex and Kristen both co-lead the Sober Girls Yoga 30 Day Challenges and the 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Trainings with The Mindful Life Practice.


Hi, friend. This is Alex McRobs, founder of the Mindful Life Practice and you're listening to the Sober Yoga Girl podcast. I'm a Canadian who moved across the world to the Middle East at age 23 and I never went back. I got sober in 2019 and I now live fulltime in Bali, Indonesia. I've made it my mission to help other women around the world stop drinking, start yoga and change their lives through my online Sober World's yoga community. You're not alone and a sober life can be fun and fulfilling. Let me show you how.

Hi everyone. Welcome back to our in the world. It is our weekly conversation we have about yoga philosophy and living, yoga and sobriety and all these things that come together. Now I will give everyone a warning which is that I'm in a hotel right now and the WiFi is inconsistent and I tried to get on my hotspot and my hotspot wouldn't get I suddenly if this suddenly cuts out in the middle, it's my fault, it's Bali's fault. But we're going to give it a go and see how far it goes. And it looks like we're working and we're live well. There's six people watching. Amazing. And Mimi has said good morning. Anyone else that's tuned in and watching, let us know where you are in the world and yeah, how are you doing, Kristen?

I'm doing well.


It's Monday morning here and I am just having coffee and waking up, getting ready to start the week and I, as always love starting it off with you and these chats. Amazing.

I love it too. It's so nice because we have this great conversation but then it's like I get to see you every week for a little catch up before the week starts. It's really nice.

So happy to be here.

I went to my first twelve step meeting today. Yeah. I'm like I wonder if I'm allowed.

To talk about this because it's supposed to be anonymous.

I think I dare that I've been I don't know, I'd have to ask. But I really enjoyed it. I was saying to my friend that I went with that. I feel like it felt really similar to what we do, just with different themes. Like everyone in the room. It was like a structured share where people got to share about their sober journeys. But it wasn't like people weren't talking about yoga or feminism or the types of things that we focus on. So it felt really familiar but also different. And yeah, it was nice. It was nice. I would love to hear I know there's lots of people in the group that do twelve step and that don't do. And if you have gone before, I would love to hear your reflections if you find similarities between our meetings or anything like that. So we are on the fourth Yama today and if you've been watching along with us, we've been doing this for four weeks where we get together and chat about one of the yama of yoga. One of the yamas of yoga. And today's is brahmakarya or brahmacharya. I don't know if it's a char or cuff, brahmakarya or brahmacharya.

Do you know?

I don't. I say brahmakarya, but I don't know if that's right.

Okay, I'm not 100% sure, but brahmacharya or brahmakarya can often it's translated into moderation. And I have to say, when I was posting about us doing this topic, I tried to restrain from the word moderation. And the reason why was because I didn't want people to think that it was like a conversation about moderating alcohol, which I think that word jumps to that. And so I really love the way that it's been defined here, which I used the word today, non excess when I was describing this. And it's basically refraining from overindulgence with food, sleep, pleasure, and work and cultivating a sense of sacredness in everything you do. And so I think for that, it looks different for everyone. And for the example of alcohol, the practice of moderation, I would say if you're someone that finds that you are always drinking to excess or you're drinking regularly, then it might mean to totally abstain. And that doesn't mean that you're not practicing moderation. You're just like, finding your relationship with the thing that works for you. I don't know what your thoughts are on that.

Yeah, and I agree. I think that sometimes it's finding if it's something that's not serving us and not benefiting us, then you make a decision of whether it should be in our lives or not. And that is a practice of it. So whether it's the opposite of non excess, it's avoiding something that's not good for us and then inviting space in for things that are. And then that's kind of, I think, where that moderation piece comes in, because then whatever it is that is good for us is kind of coming into our lives in a moderation perspective.

Absolutely. Yeah. What does it look like in your life to be living with this yama?

Yeah, so I think, like, all of us have or can have periods where we have habits that drain our energy or take our energy. And so for me, that can be not getting enough sleep, maybe overworking or not having that balance between work and life. We were just kind of chatting before. It could be like binge eating foods that aren't good for your system. And today I'm having inflammatory response from overeating foods that on the weekend that I'm just sensitive to. And while I don't regret that because it's an amazing weekend, it's just I'm now having to because I went in excess on the weekend, and now I'm kind of kind of going away from it. But I think for me, it's kind of identifying what are those habits that take from my energy or take from my peace, whatever it is, and so a lot of that for me can be the work life balance component. And I've had a little bit of a fluid relationship with that, of trying to kind of find that middle. And I think it can sway at times, but it's always kind of coming back to where is that middle?

Where you feel like your energy is there, it's not drained and you're kind of balanced. And so for me, it's a lot of just gaining that awareness of okay, what are those habits and behaviors that drain my energy and then how can I replace those with healthier ones. And again, it's fluid. But if we prioritize kind of the things that bring us more of that high vibration energy, that positive energy, we can start to experience more of that, I don't know, moderation, balanced way of living. So I think for me, a lot of the ways it shows up is with sleep work and I mean caffeine, but that's one I'm not going to talk about today because I love my coffee, but also just like the foods. I'm just a very sensitive person to.

A lot of food so it's something.

I have to watch. But I think we can also experience it in our yoga practice where you can be so in your yoga practice and then you can fall right away from it and then it's kind of coming back to where that is. Yeah, totally.

And it's funny that you bring up the food thing because okay, today after I started out as well. But after the meeting, I had a cheeseburger, a cheeseburger with bacon fries. And then I went and had a chocolate smoothie and a matcha latte. And then I had spring rolls. And then I was walking on the beach at Sunset, and I was like, I feel if it's my friend, was like, oh, I wonder why. And I was like, I know exactly why. Because this is like the lineup of things I've eaten in the last 6 hours. And I think a big thing is like cultivating a sense of mindfulness around and I didn't have this for live. Okay, my wife I cut out.

But we're back on. You're back.

Okay, great. Hopefully the live is still happening. But I think since before I got sober it was in sobriety when I first started to understand because I was just putting so much stuff into my system like social media and alcohol and caffeine and sugar. And I didn't have any awareness around how each of these things that were coming into me were impacting me until I slowly started to isolate them. And then I made connections of like oh, alcohol makes me anxious and depressed. Oh sugar makes me have this energy crash and high. Oh, being submerged on social media makes me feel bad about myself. And then once you start to have mindfulness around how things impact you and you don't have to be perfect like, both of us are both teachers and leaders and we've both given examples from our current life of how we've gone astray. And then that constant practice. It's a practice and you're just reminding yourself and you're going back on the.

Path of like, oh yeah, this is.

Not working for me. I need to go back to what's working. And then you just start again.

Yeah, absolutely. And you know what? I think that's a huge one that I completely missed is the social media and our consumption of it. The best way I can describe is just like the mindless scrolling. You can just get sucked into that world and then hours go by and you're like, what did I just do with my time? And so I think it's again, just not beating ourselves up over it. We're all human and we all are going to kind of have periods where you're fluid between the two, but it's really just having that awareness of what creates that high vibration energy in you. What creates the low vibration energy in you?

And where can you try to kind.

Of find the middle or closer to the high vibration? And I think you talk about that so much in yoga, right? Like allowing your, what is your words, like the body to find the moment and the mind to find the middle. And I think that's exactly the practice. We have enough in our lives that's telling us how to be, what to be, where we can start to feel bad about ourselves. But it's coming in with that just loving compassion and again, the whole notion of the ahimsa coming into this one of creating that compassion and just the loving awareness of what feels good, what doesn't, and just bringing yourself back into that center.

Yeah, I love that. And that finding the middle concept comes from Ralph Gates, by the way. That was what he was teaching on the training I did with him. Yeah, he also had another one, flow like water and end like fire, which I say all the time. And people were saying it on.

It was so funny at the end.

Of my yoga teacher training, people were referencing the things that I said and that's one of them. And it's so cool how your words get passed from people to people and.

Just seeing that connection. I love that. Okay, yeah, go ahead.

Oh, you go ahead.

No, I was just going to say the other thing I thought about is just the whole notion of just allowing ourselves to just also slow down and take a moment to kind of connect into the senses. Because I think we're in such a fast paced lifestyle, so it's not uncommon for us to even go, I don't know, like an entire afternoon, an entire day with not taking a sip of water or not doing anything to nourish.

Ourselves because we're just like, go, go.

And so we lose kind of track of what we're consuming in that time because you're almost just in this autopilot state. And so sometimes it's just giving ourselves that permission to slow down, kind of connect into our senses, take a few deep breaths, being present with what we're eating, what we're drinking, checking in with our body kind of regularly and observing anything, and just not being afraid to say no. I think there's so much fear around saying no to something because there's so much of that FOMO fear of missing out on something, because if you say no, what happens? What are you going to miss?

Et cetera.

But I think anyone who's a good friend isn't going to mind if you say no, because they're going to understand that you need rest and you need time for yourself. And so it's making the sacrifice of, like, I'm not going to go to.

This because I'm going to care for.

Myself and I have a bubble bath, I'm going to go to bed early, I'm going to treat myself to a nursing meal, whatever it is, and just not being afraid to miss out on something for your own well being.

Yeah, I love that. That's such a good example.

And that's been a practice. I had to learn that because I was constantly the yes person. I would say yes to anything that my manager or work asked me. I would say yes to all of my friends, I would just say yes. And then I'm like, Why am I so tired? And I think it's just like reflecting and being okay, saying, you know what, no, I would love to, but I'm going to do something for myself tonight.

Yeah, that's such a great example. I think I've become more and more that way with work. I used to take calls at the most ridiculous times and I would teach yoga all week and multiple times a day because I wanted to meet different time zones and accommodate different people. And I was actually thinking yesterday about how I used to Europe yoga class. It was like four in the afternoon in Bali, which I had specifically put on the schedule for people in the UK to come at 08:00 a.m.. And after consistently a couple of months of one, two, or no one showing up, I just took the class off the schedule. And I was thinking about it yesterday because one of those people now comes to the other class. He's just moved his schedule to the one that I'm offering. And I'm like, that's such a perfect example of like, I was massively overworking myself, but it ended up working for him to just move his schedule to come to what I was offering, and now I'm not overextending myself and it just ended up working for him. So I think sometimes we overextend ourselves to try and please everyone, but in the end, they'll make it work for them if they really want to be part of what you're offering or your community?

Yeah, absolutely.

I'm just going to pull up and see. I've minimized the live I'm just seeing we don't have any questions. If anyone has any questions as they're watching, feel free to type them in the chat. I love the interaction that we get on these and conversations about moderation. I'm going to share some journal prompts for all of you. So these are some things that you could journal about on this topic this week. In what area of my life do I need more balance? Where in my life can I pull back on excess attention? Excess attention? Am I currently honoring myself and my friends, my partners, my colleagues in our relationships? In what area of my life do I procrastinate? And I'll share my main thing because it's so funny because I recently had this big drama with my yoga teacher training students around phone use in the morning. And I've been thinking a lot about how I feel like it's like maybe it definitely is a rule, but I also am like maybe I'm projecting my own phone issues onto them because I have like a really serious phone addiction. And I was sharing this week that one of the things that I want to go into this week with is not using my phone until middle of the day because I don't need my phone until the middle of the day.

So right now my routine is like, I get up at 05:00 a.m., I ride my motorbike, I teach morning breath work, morning meditation, morning Asana practice, have breakfast, teach an Asana clinic, and twelve is when I'm out of the yoga teacher training school for the day on most days. And so I'm lucky. And then I get straight to work and do my thing and whatever. But I just feel like my phone just sucks me into the drama of things that I could really sort out later in the day. Like so and so needs this or that or whatever. And it's really not going to matter if it takes me a few more hours to respond to their message, but it's going to help me stay in this high vibration mind state away from all the drama of this little box. So anyway, I have another phone that is an old phone that I used to use for work. And I'm thinking about charging it up and having it totally disconnected from Wi Fi and data and just using it as like an alarm clock. And if I have anything that I need to do, like write a note or something or use Google Maps, then I can use that.

But then keep this one off throughout the morning. That's my plan. I'm going to start that. Maybe tomorrow, maybe not, because tomorrow is my last day of vacation. Maybe I'll start it on Tuesday, Wednesday, Wednesday. But I'm wondering, do you have an intention for moderation or brahmacharya for your week? This week?

Yeah, that's great question. I, too have an issue with my phone, so I think there's definitely some work there that I could do of just being more intentional with how I start my mornings. I feel my best when I wake up, have my coffee, do a little meditation, and just am kind of present. So I think there's a way to pause apps so I might try and explore what that looks like so I can pause them to a certain time so that I can't even physically click into them. Because there's so much that we're just so used to doing, and it just opens up and your finger automatically clicks on Instagram or whatever. So I think I'm going to start to invite more meditation in to my mornings. The other thing I've been doing, and we're going to continue doing it, I think I talked about it last week is with Sarah, we've been doing mindful sweat every single morning. Yeah. So we're going to do that again this week. So that's a really great way to start my morning. If I do a little meditation, some mindful sweat, and then I think for me, it's kind of returning into that high vibration, just a little bit of focusing on what my work life looks like.

This week, I'm going into another busy week and just really ensuring that I get out during the day. I take my breaks, I take those moments to nourish myself throughout the day, to pause and connect in with how I'm feeling. Because when I'm doing that, I'm much more present in the evening with my family, because if I'm not caring for myself during the workday, I'm tired, I'm maybe grumpy or whatever in the evening. And so I think it's just finding that balance with work and caring for myself throughout the day. And right now, for me, that looks like going for a walk on my lunch, having my lunch, and then taking myself out for a walk just in nature, not with my phone. Well, my phone, I like to listen to the bird app, but that's what I do on my phone and just kind of really be present with myself. And so I think that's what I'm going to carry through this week. And also just continuing the practice of saying no to what doesn't feel good and resonate with that love, that answer.

And Sarah is watching and Sarah says yes. Yay to daily yoga. And I need to lessen my phone use as well. It's really easy to lose time in electronics. Yeah, so true.


I have such mixed feelings about it. Like, so mixed because on the one hand, it's like, we would not all be together if it weren't for social media. So it's like, obviously a force for good, and it's brought me to so many people. And then on the other hand, it's like just this vortex of last week or the past few weeks, for me, it's been like this TikTok vortex of the eras tour and instagram reels. And now it's shifted to this vortex of I like watching everyone's commentary on the Barbie movie and I'll just watch that for hours before bed. And it's weird because it's like, I feel quite connected to people, and I love hearing people's opinions that resonate with me, but then it's like, okay, I don't feel that great about being sucked into my electronics for this long. So it's like finding the middle, finding moderation. The middle. Yeah, absolutely.

And I think you've inspired me to go see that movie.

Oh, my gosh. You have to. Oh, my gosh. I have to tell you the craziest thing. I know we're still on the live, but I posted in the Facebook group saying, what do you guys think of the Barbie movie? And someone commented saying, it was awful. It was so bad. Complete waste of whatever. And you know what's wild? I knew it was a man. I was like, how did this man get into the sober girls yoga Facebook group? And I clicked his profile, and it was man. Like, I was going through his photos, and I'm like, how is this here? And I think because he had a gender neutral name, but isn't that so funny how I was like, this comment would not be here. Even if it was someone who disliked the movie, they wouldn't use such harsh words. There's been female participants of the group that have said, I didn't care for it that much, and that's, like, a different response than being like, it was a horrible waste of like anyway, so I've removed him from the group. But it's okay to have different opinions on things. Totally. But keeping them in our usual safe space, which it always is in our.

Group, of a safe discussion.

Yeah. But definitely watch the movie. Let me know what you think.

I will, absolutely.

All right, on that note, have a great Monday. Have a great Monday, everyone. And we're going to be back next week with our last Yama, which is my I think it might be one of my favorites. Operate. Letting go. A good shot on that.

That's a good one.

All right, you all soon.

See you soon.

Hi, friends. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Sober Yoga Girl podcast. This community wouldn't exist without you here, so thank you. It would be massively helpful if you could subscribe, leave a review, and share this podcast so it can reach more people. If we haven't met yet in real life, please come get your one week free trial of the Sober Girls Yoga membership and see what we're all about. Sending you love and light wherever you.

Are in the world.