And it’s alright.
In Seattle, we make it to this month and everything feels a little more possible. The days are longer, the windows are open, and we know (at least we hope) there are a few months of shorts and t-shirt weather.
The sun is provides the ultimate tapas, a Sanskrit word that means to heat, to glow, to give out warmth, to shine, to burn, to change, to transform.” This can refer to turning up the temperature in many ways – on enthusiasm, on discomfort, on passion, on food. Tapas is most often transformational; when we cook a vegetable it can change from bitter to sweet, from hard to soft. Sometimes tapas means making something, like a posture, more physically challenging; at others (and for others), taking a restorative pose is more difficult, and that’s tapas too!
Tapas is an integral ingredient in yoga practice. It shows up in the second limb of the eight limbs of yoga, the niyamas, which outline the five ways to relate to ourselves. We are asked to practice cleanliness (saucha), contentment (santosa), self-discipline (tapas), self-study (svadhyaya), and self-surrender (Isvara pranidhana). These, in addition to the yamas, the ways to treat others and the world around us, come before all other aspects of practice, from asana, to meditation. In Yoga Sutra 2.1, tapas described as is one of the three foundations of kriya yoga, the yoga of action, in concert with the last two niyamas: svadhyaya and Isvara pranidhana.
This month, consider how you can balance these last three ways to conduct yourself. Can you find ways to turn up the heat (tapas) that are appropriate to you (self-study) and surrender the outcome (Isvara pranidhana)? What is one thing you could either do more of or less of that would be a practice of kriya yoga?
Have a wonderful June!
Posted by: Anne Phyfe Palmer, 8 Limbs Founder and Teacher Training Director