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Tapas - Fire

Updated: Feb 19, 2022

Our October intention is Tapas, a Sanskrit word meaning "fire," or "passion."

Fire and passion are tricky things. With the right approach, they can burn just enough to keep us warm. If not tended, however, the fire can go out, or rage beyond its intent. In our yoga, this fire is what brings us to the mat. With the right approach, our practice keeps us warm and content.

Tapas is often interpreted as discipline, and sometimes austerity (stern or severe). YIKES. When have we ever heard the word "stern" in our yoga practice???!!! Probably never. So then how does STERN fit in with"listen to your body" and "take what you need"?

Allow me to explain!

As humans, we suffer. Calming our ever-moving mind is not easy. We attach to thoughts, people, ideas, and we get stuck in never-ending circles of pain (Samskaras). To go with this idea, I'm thinking of a pool game my brothers and I would play growing up. We'd create a whirlpool by swimming and swimming and swimming in one direction, then try to go against the water. IMPOSSIBLE!

Enter, yoga.

Sutra 1.2: Yoga is the calming of the fluctuations/agitations of the mind.

Yoga is the attempt to re-route our thoughts and action. Just like those whirlpools, it's SO HARD to go back against the grain, against the natural human circle of suffering.

And don't we just wish it was an easy fix. That we could say "Ok, get on this yoga mat. You're healed!" Showing up to our asana (pose) practice and just laying on our mats is not going to yield the results we want. We remember Tapas the next time we think of showing up to our mat in a lack-luster way.

We bring with us fire, passion, discipline, and stern attention to our work. The difficulty we experience in an asana should mimic the difficulty of life. If we can push through the physical and mental difficulty of holding a pose, we can push through difficulties off the mat too.

Now don't go thinking that you're going to torture yourself in each class! As always in yoga, it's a balance. Here are some examples of what Tapas might look like:

  • Your mind is distracted during class. With Tapas, you hold yourself accountable to get focused.

  • You take a break from class in a Child's Pose. With Tapas, you stay focused on your breath, letting thoughts come and go instead of thinking of it as "free time."

  • Your friends are texting on a group chat while you're taking class. You see the phone lighting up, and you want to check what they're talking about. With Tapas, you are stern with yourself and stay focused on your practice.

  • You want to reach a certain pose. With Tapas, you show up to the mat often to build the strength toward the pose.

  • You REALLY don't want to get out of your comfy, cozy bed. With Tapas, you show up, because your practice is important and you are dedicated to becoming better in mind and body.

  • You keep repeating negative things to yourself. With Tapas, you sternly redirect your mind (I always use my breath as a reset - I take a big deep breath in and choose a new thought).

Thinking of it this way, our fire burns just right. Not too much, not too little. We do the hard things. We challenge our thoughts. We get up early, or stay up late to complete our yoga practice. We stop scrolling and just sit.

For JFY, October is the month we begin/continue to SHOW UP for ourselves with FIRE, PASSION, AND DISCIPLINE.

Excited for another month with you!



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