Tapas — self-discipline. No I’m not talking about the appetizers.
Tapas is another limb of yoga. It is one of the virtues noted in a yogi’s practice. I have found, for me, this is one of the harder virtues to keep in the forefront.
Today I am lacking in Tapas. I’ve wandered off from my computer several times while writing my column. I live a pretty clean life, but I like to have cocktails. I practice yoga but tend to let my personal practice ebb and flow – at times I over-ebb. I
I am a hard worker, but I have a creative mind, i.e., sometimes easily distracted by butterflies, or as the case is today, a goat getting ready to have a kid.
As I’ve said before, the practice of yoga is just that, a practice, continuing to be mindful and bringing yourself back to center when you notice you have drifted from homeostasis.
The word tapas means heat. In yoga we focus on building heat to burn off impurities. So how are tapas used to create more discipline?
The asanas (poses) of yoga are meant to purify the body and prepare the body to sit in meditation to focus the mind. It is used to “burn away” habits that do not serve us.
The destructive patterns in our lives are called samskaras and can be anything that is overdone or underdone in our lives, work, exercise, emotional connections, food … you name it.
Creating tapas can mean accepting boundaries, accepting the suffering necessary to lead to balance, like giving up excessive consumption or leaving a toxic relationship, or on the flip side of that, maybe you have closed yourself off from trusting anyone or allowing yourself to experience an emotional connection with another person due to previous patterns in your life.
It is creating heat, pushing past your comfort zone, generating the inner environment to bring change and to find homeostasis by accepting the struggle to achieve peace.
Next week is Thanksgiving; this month we focus on gratitude. You can focus on gratitude for things that no longer serve you for how they may have benefitted you: Maybe your child who came from a relationship that no longer functions; or, maybe the experiences you had with someone.
I have “thanked” my “fat” belly for the service it has given, including housing my son before he was born, allowing me to eat delicious food, keeping me warm, and holding up my yoga pants. It’s done lots of things for me and even though I chose to release some of it, it has served me in many ways.
If you are looking for a good way to keep your yoga practice rolling next week while getting ready for your holiday, my friend and fellow yoga teacher Jewel Bethel-West is offering a karma yoga virtual class. It is at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 24 and is on Facebook . If you go to my page, you’ll see the link to her class.
It is a “pay what you can,” class.
Liz Jones can be reached at Liz@LizJones.co or through LizJones.co