In this second post on Tapas, we will look at what it means to practice this Niyama on our mat.
Tapas means self-discipline, but it does not mean pushing ourselves to our physical limit. It means being realistic about our practice. I’ve never practiced a head stand. I can do it. I have the strength and the balance to get into the pose, but as someone who has a prior injury to my cervical spine, it’s not safe or practical. So, even though it is a challenging pose that many find invigorating, I practice self-discipline and use other types of inversions in my practice. There’s no reason or benefit for me to push my body into that particular pose.
Tapas is also about consistency. Sometimes, we don’t feel like getting on our mat. We don’t feel like doing our practice. On those days, it’s all we can do to lay on our mat for a few minutes and breathe. But if we do that, we build a habit of getting on our mat consistently and soon, we realize that the time spent there even if it is just breathing, is always time well spent. It gives us the time we need to acknowledge and honor our abilities, whatever they might be, and the more consistently we do it, the more we feel like doing it!
Tapas is our internal wisdom. It encourages us to practice, even when we don’t feel like it. It reminds us how good our practice makes us feel, if we just do it. It’s when we commit to the consistency of our practice, that we burn away the impurities that distract us and pull us away from it, and away from our contentment.
Make time for your practice, you’ll thank yourself for it. If you have the space, leave your mat rolled out and ready. Sometimes that’s enough to get your there. Invite your furry friend or your littles to join you on your mat when you don’t feel like it. They have a way of making everything more fun!
Next time, Tapas off the mat.