The past four months for me have been spent in the yoga studio for teacher training. It’s been something that I’ve wanted to do now for a while so I took a yoga leap and have been immersed in practice, observation, teaching and studying…it’s been a welcome challenge. I keep hearing “trust the process” and it’s true…this process of learning over the last several months have left me with a deeper desire to live the best life and be my most authentic self. The best part has been that I’ve been sharing this wonderful experience with like-minded yogis.
One of my latest assignments was to focus on one of the ten yamas and the niyamas (external and internal ethics). I was assigned “Tapas” which translates as a fiery discipline, staying focused, doing your best and having discipline.
It’s the third of Patanjali’s Niyamas (positive duties and personal observances). The word Tapas comes from the Sanskrit verb tap, which means to burn and evokes a fiery discipline or passion. This fieriness is what gets our heart pumping and fuels our desire for personal growth in our yoga practice.
Think about the times you are faced with a challenge in yoga class or in life…when we practice facing up to it, that’s tapping into Tapas and learning to be strong. Tapas ‘burns’ away self-doubt and leads to self-trust and inner strength.
I think of my grandmother who started smoking at age fourteen…when she quit and age eighty, she was miserable but then she began to see benefits and enjoyed life more fully. The removal of impurities allowed her body to better function.
What lights your fire? When we turn up the internal heat, we ride the Tapas wave. Tapas is NOT comfort driven…it can be truly painful. It’s the rewards that come from sticking with the fiery discipline that are so sweet.
When we have this focused self-discipline, we purify the mind of impurities, habits and patterns that are no longer serving us. By burning through the negative, we become freer and more in touch with life because we’re burning brighter.
If practicing tapas is too intense, back out, but if you can take the challenge and allow your brain to sort itself out…use that energy to jump into the fire and see a change that lasts. It’s the unpleasantness in the beginning that tells you, “yep, this is Tapas…I’m doing it right!” If you’ve lit the fire, imagine yourself glowing with positive energy and your yoga mat becomes your “Field of Dreams”…if you build it (heat), Tapas will come.
Deep down, we know what’s good for us. So…Come on baby, light your fire!
Five poses to guaranteed to light that ‘Tapas’ fire: Hold these poses for five or more breaths: Utkatasana, plank, boat, dolphin plank, and jump switch.
Music with a fiery theme and help you stay inspired:
- Doors- “Light my Fire”
- Jimi Hendrix- “Let me stand next to your fire”
- Johnny Cash- “Ring of Fire”
- Billy Joel- “We didn’t start the Fire”
- Talking Heads- “Burning down the house”
- E Street Band- “I’m on Fire”
- Grateful Dead- “Fire on the Mountain
I’m currently working on my testing teach out and I’m working on a Tapas themed class. Now if I can just teach “breath of fire” I will feel elated! Every day should have a little bit of Tapas!