What happens when we heat something up? It can burn, if there is too much heat, but it can also purify and transform. That’s how you make magic happen in the kitchen, or in metalwork – the application of heat has the power to radically alter a substance.

The second Niyama (personal observance, the second limb of yoga), tapas, has at its root (tap) the meaning “to heat, to give out warmth, to shine, to burn.” Tapas is translated in several ways: some speak of it as self-discipline or austerity, others as warmth, heat, fire. One definition I’ve heard is enthusiasm!

The idea in yoga is that when we strengthen and purify our body and mind through the application of heat (think holding chair pose or concentrating on one thing for more than a few minutes) we develop more of an ability to withstand challenge – be it the challenge of social distancing, of losing one’s ability to work or pay our bills, or the challenge of meditation.

I don’t know about you all, but I’ve found it very difficult to concentrate deeply since sheltering in place began. Work and home have blended into one amoeba-like blob. My office is in my kitchen. I’m teaching yoga, with my computer, in the space I usually dedicate to my own practice. But I know where to turn when my mind starts to spin. My go-to has been a one-minute Warrior 3 pose. I haul myself into the pose – one foot on the ground, the other flying behind me, my arms reaching ahead or to the side – and I stay, and breathe. And do the other side, of course. And boy have I loved taking Livestream classes with my fellow yoga teachers at 8 Limbs. They have been a life saver! I am so grateful for the amazing grace they’ve brought to the Zoom platform.

Right now, humanity’s feet are being held to the fire. We can let this heat cook us, exhaust us, or we become stronger, and kinder, and brighter.  To help us through, here are some resources, shared by Wazhma Samizay, owner of Capitol Hill’s Retail Therapy.

Any questions? Anything to say? Send me an email: annephyfe@8limbsyoga.com.

Happy May!

Posted by: Anne Phyfe Palmer

Neighborhood Studios