Welcome to our Blog page.
We thought that a blog page would be a great idea to share some Yoga phylosophy and other insightful topics that would immensely complement your Yoga asana practice.
The yoga of posture is a small component of other yogic knowledge, so if you have a little free time to yourself please take time to read our posts below.
It will make your yoga practice so much more interesting and will transform you inward to make you a better person outside in the real world “in and off your mat”.
This month we thought we would dig a little deeper to some of the ideas that we commonly come across in our yoga practice - and this months topic is Tapas. Here are a few common interpretations and dimensions to what tapas is as well as common examples of how tapas come up in our practice - and the benefits we get from working with them.
But firstly, what is Tapas?? Well, the word Tapas is derived from the root Sanskrit verb 'tap' which means 'to burn’ and is also translated as heat, energy and austerity. These are all ideas which gives a sense of the fiery discipline and enthusiasm we bring to our practice - and any anyone who has been to one of our Vinyasa or Ashtanga classes will have certainly felt this heat. :)
Now this is all well and good, but there are also lots of other dimensions that make up Tapas that are more subtle but still very useful. On a more everyday level examples of Tapas include:
⁃ The disipline that gets us out of our beds in the morning on a rainy day when we’d rather be in bed,
⁃ It's what makes us choose healthier foods because we know some foods may not help us healthwise, or with our yoga practice.
⁃ It's the keenness that keeps bringing us back to our yoga mats,
⁃ It is also drives us to try that difficult posture we don’t particularly like again, maybe knowing we won’t get there this time, but then trying again anyway.
- It's what keeps in a yoga posture that we might not like or find uncomfortable.
And it is the gradual more mundane everyday process of these kinds of little tapas - of step-by-step, one-by-one changes that are where the real key and power behind how Tapas accumulate benefit and work in everyday life. It is this slow incremental process of change that really allow people to make what may appear very large, transformation changes in their lives.
And this process of Tapas takes many forms on different days for different people ... Some days it might look like a super sweaty powerful Vinyasa practice. On other days it might look like the self-discipline to simply get yourself onto the mat and see where you go - and that might be through a gentle yin practice or simply sitting cross legged and breathing. Other days it might be the focus that’s required to remain with the breath and stay with whatever arises for several minutes.
And it is this dynamic, ever changing nature of Tapas where the pitfalls and traps of Tapas can begin. When the fire of tapas burns too brightly for example, we might push ourselves so hard that we become vulnerable to physical injury or mental self-aggression. We might place unrealistic expectations on our selves, we might push too hard mentally and physcially. It is a very difficult balancing act, but it does really help to know that the origins of all Tapas come from compassion, kindness, truth, peace and love.
With tapas so often described as fire and passion, it's easy to forget the gentler, more compassionate aspects of Tapas. And it is critical for our longevity in our yoga practice to take a kind, thoughtful and compassionate approach to yoga practice - and life.
And it is in this way that Tapas gives a view into the inner world. There, in the space between the breaths, often lies the repetitive thoughts. And it is in this way that working with tapas is really like holding up a mirror to ourselves - and doing this consistently will develops the grit it takes to develop kindness, compassion, peace, loving thoughts about ourselves and the world. Iyengar couldn't have said it better when he said “Life without tapas is like a heart without love.”
So while Tapas may initially look restrictive working tapas - and the journey that it is, is really freeing and it moves us towards a better, freer way of being. So whether you come to yoga: to find peace of mind, to reduce the effects of stress on our bodies and minds, to deal with physical pain or injury, or to become mentally or physically strong and flexible. Whatever the goal may be, when tapas is applied in any of these areas, it moves us forwards.
And there you have it!! That is our take on what Tapas is, how we work with it and the dimensions that make up this concept. We hope this is helpful and provides a little more understanding for what Tapas are - and maybe around why some days one the mat are easier or harder than others, but all are worthwhile.
With much Love and Kindness
Words written by Our dear teacher Hamish.