Yoga is a process of transformation – on every level. It begins with the physical practice of postures but eventually, ultimately it becomes so much more. It changes you from the inside out.
The element of transformation is fire and in yoga philosophy this is TAPAS.
Tapas is one of the five niyamas, or principles in yoga philosophy, that give guidelines of behaviour to create well being for ourselves and others. The complete system of yoga has 8 steps (also called limbs) which act as principles of how to live a meaningful and purposeful life.
Tapas literally means fire, heat or to burn.
Tapas is the willingness to do the work, which means developing discipline, enthusiasm and being open to learn. In yoga, it’s usually a commitment to your practice. Figuring out what you can do consistently and then make that time non negotiable.. even when you don’t feel like it.
Tapas relates to inner strength, willpower and focused, consistent effort. Its the energy that’s needed to create change and take on the challenges we’re faced with both on and off our mat. Its goal is stop you doing things mindlessly and bring more consciousness into your life so you’re less controlled by your habits and conditioning and have more freedom.
The process of transformation requires a degree of discomfort – maybe even suffering at times – to make it happen. Tapas is the fiery determination and discipline to get ourselves out of our comfort zone stay with things even when they are hard.
In the discomfort is when we learn most about ourselves – being able to stay at that point when you want to give up – ultimately, that’s where we grow. The secret to making change stick when things get tough is to harness your discomfort and transform it into personal power through your yoga practice.
An example of this is practising poses we’re not confident with or are our least favourite – there’s friction as we are going against the grain of what we’re used to and what’s easy. This heat is what’s needed to burn through the resistance and habitual patterns, purifying the spaces within your body and mind. It burns off what you are not and don’t need.
We meet the inner resistance with the breath which is a neutralising force. If you can stay calm and breathe through the pose you will see that layer of resistance dissolve.
Yoga is about facing our resistances and not fighting with them. That is the only way we will grow out of them.
In your practice the breath is what sustains you at your edges and allows you to break through your edge into new physical. mental and emotional spaces.
We can see what we are saying to ourselves when it gets tough or we’re not feeling great. We can observe what we are saying to ourselves when it gets tough or we’re not feeling great. The unconscious inner critic needs the light of awareness in order to change – when you can see it then you have a choice to do things differently.
Change happens with consistent, conscious effort – which is what yoga is about. Results come from persistent practice and sustained effort over time.
Yoga is a medicine. Transforming ourselves is an endless process which we live.. It can’t be captured or possessed. We can only participate in it.
We make shapes to change our patterns 😉