Yoga practice of the month: Tapas and Self Care
Tapas has many definitions. It is generally translated as “self-discipline,” “effort,” or “internal fire”. The Yoga Sutras, considered the most important text of Yoga, suggest that “when tapas is in action, the heat it generates will both burn away impurities and kindle the sparks of divinity within.” (www.yogajournal.com) This kind of conscious effort can be the foundation of self-care.
In observance of National Physical Therapy Month we invite you to practice tapas with an eye toward cultivating healthy habits and breaking unhealthy ones. “Asana is tapas, but if you become an asana junkie, then your tapas is to stop practicing asana. One goal of tapas is to stop anything you do mindlessly because you’ve become habituated.”(Gary Kraftsow quoted in www.yogajournal.com) A more mindful yoga practice, whether at home on your mat, in class with friends, or as part of your prescribed physical therapy program will result in greater self-care.
“Another way to understand tapas is to think of it as consistency. One of the highest disciplines is that of consistency: getting on the yoga mat every day, sitting on the meditation cushion every day, observing the antics of the mind every day, forgiving your mate or your child yet another time. If tapas is considered in this vein, then it becomes a more subtle practice, a practice that is concerned with the quality of life and relationships, not just with outlasting some difficulty…Tapas is ultimately measured in the consistent willingness to begin practice again and again, over and over again to bring awareness to this very moment. Ultimately nothing is more difficult than consistency.”
You can apply tapas to any aspect of your life: your yoga practice, your diet, marriage, over-coming procrastination, carpentry, recovery from an injury, even learning to play the piano. Through mindfully committing yourself to that practice, you will start to reap the benefits of self-care.
This month, we invite you to abide by your practice and connect to your own determination. Do the work. Find your limit and take care.