Tapas has become one of my favorite niyamas. Tapas is often translated traditionally as ‘austerity’ or ‘discipline’. In this sense, Tapas can mean cultivating a sense of self-discipline, passion and courage in order to burn away ‘impurities’ physically, mentally and emotionally, and paving the way to our true greatness. Discipline is a tool that helps us one step at a time, which I can appreciate. We do not have to do it all at once. Instead of going directly to the end goal, we can take one piece at a time.
Creating a daily practice takes discipline. It is not always easy to start something new. Whenever I think of starting something new, I envision a ladder or flight of stairs. How can I break it down to something that seems doable? By doing that, I found it easier to maintain discipline. I also discovered that I was able to enjoy and appreciate each step for itself instead of as a means to something else.
When I look at building a daily practice, I see five areas that we could include. Some days, 10-15 minutes is enough to center and ground. Other days may call for a longer practice. Here are some ideas to add to your daily practice.
Working with Your Natural Rhythms
Ayurveda teaches us that each of us is made of different combinations of the elements, called doshas – earth, air, water, fire, and ether. That affects how we start and approach our days. For example, when learning about my dosha, I gained a greater understanding of food. Ayurveda breaks food out into 8 different food groups, such as meats. I found recommendations for which meats would with my dosha and which to stay away from. It helped me understand why my energy would change when I ate meats that didn’t pair as well for my dosha.
Our breath is the one thing that we do that affects everything else. It influences our hormone levels, health, energy, and outlook. At the beginning of the day, I like to my practice with an Ujaii breath to warm the body. Then, move into a Bellows breath. The sharp inhales and exhales activate the energy in our solar plexus. The energy of self-awareness, self-esteem, our will, and flexibility.
Movement helps me understand where my energy is sitting as well as start to bring it into focus. One of my favorite practices in the morning is a series of twists followed by Yin stretching. These movements start massaging my energy, clearing any blocks, and preparing for the day.
Meditation can come in a variety of ways. As we are raising and clearing our energies, a mediation using visualization can support us as we focus our energy. As we visualize our path or intentions, we are able to sit with the thoughts, emotions, ideas, etc. that bubble up with our visualization which helps us see how it can come to life.
Each practice and day is unique and special in and of itself. There are times when our experiences may link together. By journaling our experience, we capture where we are in the moment. Also, we can then be able to go back to our experiences for reflections, notice the connections (if any) between our experiences, and notice any new thoughts that may pop up later.
How do use tapas, or discipline, in your day to day? Is there a practice you are thinking about including? Please comment and share your thoughts.
I look forward to hearing from you.