Like Indian food, in yoga too it’s the spice that leaves you wanting more.
Too little is boring. Too much hurts.
Centuries ago, the great sage Patanjali outlined the „Eight Limbs of Yoga“. These eight steps basically act as a roadmap on how to live well. Your Yoga practice consists not just of the physical postures but also of the awarens of your attitudes and behavoirs. Tapas is one ot the personal disciplines that helps you to cultivate healthy habits and letting go of unhealthy ones.
It translates as discipline, the right effort or burning enthusiasm..
It is the fire inside your belly. It sustains you, sometimes burns you. It dies if you don’t attend to it carefully.
If you do, you have a friend for life.
Using the right amount of Tapas will get you what you want. It will support you to do whatever is necessary to reach your goal. It let’s your dreams come true.
Here is what it’s not.
It’s not free. You have to work for it. It doesn’t come easy at first. Once you have it you can lose it. It will burn you if you don’t respect your self limits. It will die if you close your eyes to the circumstances of your life.
If you grab your chance and look carefully both at who you are and what is actually happening in your life I promise you, it will transform you.
Drop your labels! Cut your story line! Look in the mirror. Do you like what you see?
This is your reward:
There is no lie in your fire! You are riding the horse not the horse riding you!
Growing up I always thought discipline meant working harder than anybody else. Only the fastest earned applause. Exhausted at the end of the day? A nod of appreciation. Push, push, push a little more. Brownie points!
This not only brought praise and self esteem but also much needed love.
Then something fabulous came into my life:
It turned a lot of things up side down ¤. One of them my willingness to burn that fire to death.
Everything I learned about yoga fascinated me. Tapas caught my eye.
It’s not quantity. I read. It’s quality. Wow! It has less to do with accomplishment and more with commitment. I was hooked. I realized I have a choice.
I was committed before. But the new spice called „mindfulness“ added a flavor I needed. It made me ask:
IS DOING WHAT I DO SUPPORTING MY GROWTH?
The right amount of Tapas was the answer. Self-reflection the tool.
Not too much not too little. That’s when growth happens. The fire sizzles - I wanted that!
„Remember, it doesn’t matter how deep into a posture you go - what matters is who you are when you get there.“ Was a quote I pinned to my wall.
Like scales falling from my eyes, I instinctively knew that there was a tool that helped me grow. Without being exhausted .
And – this was totally interesting to me. I could use this approach to everything in life. To all the things in a day I had to do and the ones I didn’t want to do.
From the yoga mat into my life. From doing the dishes to being a spouse, a mother and – to being kind with myself.
Investing yourself half heartedly…because it is not your favorite posture, teacher, chore or whatever will kill your fire.
For the rest of your life!
How do you know?
For me, working with the edge was the answer. It gave me the number one tool for having my fire burn passionately without burning up. Growth happens when we approach our edges with curiosity and a good dose of honesty. Sometimes it’s doing a little more, sometimes a little less.
Sounds simple? - It is and it is not.
Habits run your life. After all, our labels can make us shine. To break a habit or carve a new one takes 100% willingness to be present to your life.
But it’s possible and so rewarding. I know it’s where growth happens for me.
To discover your edge stay with me for another moment. Think about this. Your family plans to climb a mountain:
A - You barely have time to grab your shoes and shirt and shoot ahead of the crowd. Before you know it you are up there. Wiped out with a few leg cramps and blisters on your toes. You didn't see much. A little bit full of yourself, you got impatient with your fellow hikers who enjoyed the ride. The blisters will hurt on the way down, but hey! you made it. Cross it off that list.
B - You ponder if the mountain is too high for today and there are a few clouds in the sky. You always wanted to do this, but your back hurts. You have things to do. You postpone. No cramps, no blisters. But hey, tomorrow is another day. The disappointment of again letting the lazy bone win, mulling inside.
Clearly: Too much Tapas will burn away your energy. You made it but you're bruised. Too little will not get you anywhere. What lies between too much and too little? Between trying and not trying?
To find the right amount of Tapas learn watching your actions on a zero to ten scale.
Zero is the couch - Ten torn muscles.
Anywhere between zero and ten is your edge. It’s different for everybody. It changes all the time.
If you are healing an injury, your edge will be closer to one for some time. Watch it mindfully and let it grow.
If a stretch hurts way too much or you are biting your teeth, you are over your edge. That gives you a nine or ten. Ask yourself first: why? Is the resistance in my body? Is it in my mind?
If it feels too easy, you are rolling your eyes? You’re not committed. Perhaps you never liked that pose or teacher. Are you thinking about the couch? Or the top of the mountain? Where are you on your scale? Ask again.
You find your edge when doing a bit more hurts, a bit less sends you to la la land.
The right edge shows up in a feeling of being fiercely alive and present. Honest and authentically you! You like what you see in the mirror – just you in your skin!
I can tell you it's worth it. Even the corners of your mouth know!
Can you feel it?
It shows up if you like the pose or not. It has nothing to do with that. Quite the opposite, it has to do with showing up 100% no matter what. You use the right spice mix, you get things done.
Remember, sometimes it's doing more, sometimes less. Sometimes speaking up, sometimes being the listener.
How many things a day do you have to get done and not particularly like them? Or you just hate them? Invest yourself wholeheartedly. Drop your complaints. This is your life. All of it. One hundred percent!
The reward will be you’re holding the reigns in your hands.
You are growing toward the direction of your dreams. With consistency! You will yourself to make small changes and feel your fire burn.
Be it a daily yoga practice, a deep breath before you answer the phone. Going on a daily walk....
You know what is missing in your life!
Is a regular yoga practice something you’d like but you never get to it? Start small.
Take 1 minute now.
Feet grounded. Sit tall. - Smile!
Gently breathe in.
Feel the breath flow in through your nostrils and your throat.
Relax your face, relax your throat*.
Inhale, reach with your arms out and overhead
Reach them out and down, rest them on your lap.
Relax your throat.
Repeat 5 times.
*a lot of tension accumulates in the throat. Gently swallow one time. Feel the movement in your throat? Relax right there.
Do this every day for a month. Program it into your day. It becomes a wonderful habit. With just a little Tapas, you keep your fire burning. Do it standing up if you like. Each time you focus on your breath, it becomes a meditation in action.
Not for you? Too simple? Pick something in your life that burns you up and drives everybody around you crazy or lacks juice all together and go for it. Use Tapas to help you ride your horse.
Now ask yourself:
How does Tapas show up in your life? How often in your day are you 100%?
NO MORE - NO LESS.