When I say tapas in the header, who thinks about delicious small plates of food? I used to! What I’m referring to here is the practice of tapas or disciplines, developing a purifying heat or accepting struggles and pain without causing others struggle and pain. This is a distinctly yogic idea of how to develop ourselves. Practicing tapas helps us refine our interactions within our own minds and hearts as well as improving relationships in the world.
When we practice tapas we become aware of and fully acknowledge the areas of resistance in our lives. If we are human, we have resistance to something. Tapas offers us the strength and courage, the will to surrender to what is and change what we can. Nearly all of us are really hard on ourselves when we come across resistance. On this path of yoga, we develop patience with ourselves and our practice. It helps us to be willing to look at the areas of our own lives where we find suffering and to get beyond the suffering by facing our fears instead of running from them. We use everything as a means of learning and growth.
If you want to purify something you often times add heat. That’s how coal turns into the purity of a diamond, we add heat and pressure. The heat and intensity of an asana practice is one way to create a purifying heat within our bodies. Don’t you feel better after a good asana practice? Another way is to develop consistency, dedication and disciple with your practices like getting to class three times a week or sitting down for your meditation every day.
When we consistently do things that are good for us, we begin to purify from within. Think, if you have a terrible diet and want to improve your health, you can’t just decide to eat healthy for one day. You’ve got to purify the diet with consistency over the course of time. That is what will have the most impact on your health.
What are other areas of your life that you can purify? Purging yourself of negative self-beliefs? What are some things that you push away or hold onto too tightly? Can you let go of some of these things? When you find yourself out of balance and off your center ask why. Once you can see some of your patterns, be dedicated enough to yourself to practice getting rid of them.
We all know there is a lot of great things in this world that we could be doing for ourselves. How many of you have taken a break from your yoga or meditation practice? Several months or even years later you make your way back to it and wonder why in the world you haven’t been practicing. That is what tapas is. It is doing what is good for you – body, mind, and soul. Then when you fall off the “good for you wagon” you get back on. Tapas is the practice of getting back on and getting back to the things in your life that make you be the best version of you!
Enjoy getting to know tapas! Let us know how it’s going for you!
With love and light,
Founder of Maitri Yoga