This week I have been sharing my thoughts on Tapas, one of the Niyamas, the personal observances associated with the practice of yoga. The Niyamas are the second of the eight limbs of yoga. If this is all over your head, don't worry it was once over my head also. In the words of Pattabi Jois: "Practice and all is coming."
We often go to a public class, do our asana practice (make the shapes) and leave feeling slightly lighter, more grounded, the list goes on with respect to how the practice opens us. We do this daily or perhaps a few times a week. Why are we doing this? This question lies at the heart of Tapas. The direct translation of Tapas is heat or fire. We have all experienced this heat and this fire in our daily lives, or rather throughout the course of our lives. The low points, the adversity, the struggle. We have all been there at the edge, the bottom, the low, thinking that we would never make it out the other side. Tapas offers us the teaching that the heat of the fire helps to forge us and transform us into someone stronger than we could have possibly imagined prior to entering the heat of the fire.
Tapas as it relates to the Niyamas is "Self-Discipline" as associated to committing to a daily practice, or sadhana in sanskrit. That commitment to a daily practice, weather it's clean eating, mediation, asana or a combination of all of them helps prepare us for the heat of the fire, because we are daily facing the fire of practice and self-discipline. Even when we don't want practice, even when we are avoiding ourselves and our practice we turn back to it, we do it and discipline ourselves daily though our commitment to our practice.
In this way, when the low comes, when we are faced with adversity we are able to trust that we can stand up to it and move through it, coming out the other side changed yes, but even skinnier then we we entered, still practicing, growing and learning. The practice, the Sadhana grounds us, holds us true to ourselves.
In the words of Deborah Adele:
"The discipline of Tapas will mold u into someone of great depth and profoundness if we let it. Can we stand the heat of being dismantled and changed forever by the fire? Can we prepare ourselves daily through our practice, our staying power, and our choices? Can we stay in the burning with integrity? Can we hold on for the blessing?"