Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Light Your Fire

“The wider practice of yoga is not about arranging our life so that it is perfect and easy and non-challenging. Rather it is about using the discipline we find in asana practice to be able to remain easy in the midst of difficulty. That is the true measure of freedom…” – Judith Lasater

The Sanskrit word tapas is the third niyama on our list. Tapas is often defined as heat. Yet it’s more ancient roots explain tapas has having the ability to remove impurities. In fact, the word tapas is used to define the process of heating alloyed gold until the debris is burnt off, revealing only the purest product.

Through the practice of yoga we can also use heat to burn away the nonsense and expose our true power. sun-1106981__340This does not just apply to intensive ashtanga, hot or vinyasa yoga forms. Any type of asana, pranayama or meditation can generate tapas.

This week choose a portion of your practice where you feel you need to apply more will power.

If you can’t sustain downward dog without stressing your shoulders, approach the posture through child’s pose and gradually build on the time you remain in downward dog until you feel stronger.

Maybe you can’t relax in savasana for more than 5 minutes. Use a timer to add one minute to each practice until you relish a full 10 or even 20 minute savasana.

As you bring more self-disipline into your practice, you will realize that you have more confidence. This “I can do it” attitude leads to greater contentment. Ultimately you will find that when you persevere in your practice (and your life), you feel more balanced, purposeful and joyful. A little work will release your attachments and free up your consciousness for higher realizations.

If you are interested in learning more about the concept of tapas, click on this previous post: “Tap Into Your Strength.”

Be the Light!

YOLY Challenge #37: Tap Into Your Strength

After a couple of months of restoring and purifying, we begin afresh as we enter the month of March and the start of spring. It is a clean slate for building our strength, our sturdiness.

The month of March was named after the Roman god Mars who was known for his strong, warrior like quality. Although warrior honors were bestowed on many ancient figures, Mars was known for achieving his strength through  levelheadedness and discipline.

Acquiring strength in yoga is founded on discipline as well. In Sanskrit, we use the word “tapas” to define discipline but not in a severe or stern manner.  snail-1447233__340For myself, yogic discipline or tapas can be explained by one word, passion – the heat within our hearts formed from exuberance. Good, disciplined action should lead to a sense of purpose or empowerment; it’s what we encounter in a really great yoga class – a feeling of soaring above all else.
So, our challenge for the week is to try and generate more tapas (heat) in our lives – on and off the mat.

Select a pose that you are avoiding or may find difficult, then practice it.  Apply compassion, however, and don’t go beyond your comfort zone. Begin slowly or practice a variation of the pose first.

Strive for consistency. This can be in any area of your life that you feel is lacking.  Maybe it is your regular yoga practice or even the time you lay down to sleep each night.  Pick one thing that you feel is erratic and get it on a steady track.

What are you afraid of?  Do the single thing that you most dread or feel that you just aren’t trusting yourself to achieve.  Choosing this more challenging path is definitely fuel for the fire. Maybe it starts with a telephone call or visit that you have been putting off.

“As the trials increase, the errors become less. Then doubts become less, and when the doubts lessen, the effort also becomes less… direction will come, and when you go in the right direction, wisdom begins. When wise action comes, you no longer feel the effort as effort- you feel the effort as joy.”  -B.K.S. Iyengar (The Tree of Yoga)

Click here if you’d like to start a Year of Living Yogically!

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