Tapas, or “Just Do It” Yoga
Just Do It.
Pop culture references aside, “Just Do It” is a powerful mantra for inspiring action.
Over the past few weeks, I have unsuccessfully been trying to get back on the blog writing bandwagon, so I’m invoking the ”Just Do It” mantra to motivate myself into posting something on my blog – even if it is the worst post I have ever written!
A few months ago, my grandma went into the hospital. My writing (along with almost everything else in my life) was put aside because I wanted to spend as much time by her side as possible. I lost my grandma at the end of March and celebrated her life with family and friends in mid-April, and though I have had more time since then, I still haven’t been able to write.
I have a long list of ideas for blog posts, but my written words haven’t been flowing.
And, I had a similar experience with flow on my yoga mat today.
Most days, I could spend hours doing yoga on my own. I love exploring sequencing, playing with different postures and taking in what ever lessons my practice has to offer. But, today I was stumped – a practice wasn’t flowing from me.
My solution: I grabbed the latest copy of Yoga Journal and followed the home practice.
I still didn’t find my usual intuitive flow, but I stayed on my mat.
And, in this commitment to staying on my mat lies my understanding of the yogic practice of tapas.
In the Yoga Sutras, the Indian sage Patanjali outlines an eight-limbed path of yoga, and in the second limb (the niyamas), he offers five observances to bring more joy and ease into our lives. Tapas, the third niyama, is commonly translated as “fierce discipline,” but Judith Lasater offers a definition that really resonates with me. She describes tapas as “consistency in striving toward your goals: getting on the yoga mat every day, sitting on the meditation cushion every day—or forgiving your mate or your child for the 10,000th time.”
My basic personal tapas practice is a daily 15 minute meditation. I sit for 15 minutes every day – no matter how much I may not want to or feel like I don’t have the time to. In her book Mindful Yoga, Mindful Life, Charlotte Bell offers the suggestion that yoga and meditation practitioners commit to doing five minutes each day.
I share this suggestion to emphasize that the practice of tapas demands consistency, but it does not require an abundance of time.
With the often paralyzing presence of choice in our day-to-day lives, tapas is a committed directing of our energy towards actions that support our well-being – even when we are not in the “mood” to do things that support our well-being.
It’s a commitment to just doing it – every day.
Whatever your “it” may be.