Tapas often translates as discipline, however literally it means to burn. It evokes a sense of fiery discipline we can envision as burning enthusiasm. This niyama refers to the focused and disciplined use of energy to actively pursue the aim of yoga; realization of the inner light of awareness. Tapas creates a flame which sustains and illuminates. With focused and disciplined enthusiasm we burn off physical, mental and emotional impurities that keep our inner light from shining bright.
Our story; I practice with enthusiasm.
Tapas is a tool for transformation. Because tapas has such a fiery connotation, it conjures an image of a hot, difficult yoga practice. Yet we don't want to burn out in the process of awakening! Perhaps it's the self-discipline to set aside a time to simply practice regularly. Then again, it could be the focus required to stay with the breath and see what arises in a long held posture. And we all know it takes focus and discipline to refine our negative thoughts, words, and habits both on and off the mat.
As we move through life, we come to realize that any positive change or transformation we wish to make, requires a certain amount of consistent sustained energy...burning enthusiasm. From a yogic perspective, this is the practice of tapas!
We chose a yin yoga practice as our physical focus this month. In a typical yin class the postures are generally held for 3 to 5 minutes. It takes focus and discipline to stay in a pose for any length of time, as the mind and the body often complain! Yet when we practice with enthusiasm we can overcome outward discomforts and connect with something deeper within. Here are a couple of postures to try, if you are new to yin yoga begin with a 1 minute hold and add time as your enthusiasm for the practice begins to burn.
Bridge Pose; Begin lying on your back, bend knees and bring feet close to the body hip width apart, arms alongside the body, palms facing the floor, inhale to prepare and exhale as you lift the hips and arch the back keeping the knees parrallel, the weight of the body is on the shoulders and the feet, hold the pose and breathe freely, exhale and release the pose by rolling the spine down slowly as you pull the belly in.
Sphinx Pose; Begin lying on the belly legs stretched out hip-width apart. Arms are bent, elbows under your shoulders, forearms on the floor and parallel, middle fingers forward. Inhale and press your forearms into the floor lifting the head and chest. Press the pelvis into the floor and engage the legs, lengthening the spine. Gently pull the shoulders back, lifting the heart. Let your face and eyes soften, drawn the chin in. Hold for several breaths. To release, exhale as you lower to the floor, bring the arms alongside the body and turn your head to the side and rest.
Mahalo, we serve.