तपस् - Fiery determination, gusto to accomplish, fervor to persevere
Often associated to fire, heat, burn, flame, shine.
Tapas presents itself in a multi-faceted way. Coming to the mat and practicing a vinyasa flow is a common scenario to depict yogic Tapas. Yet, there are other ways that a fiery determination, a steadfast mind over matters that distract us show up in life.
As a segment of the Inclusivity Training for Yoga I enrolled in, I have access to interviews with diverse leaders in the Western yoga community. For example, Teo Drake, an advocate for queer and transgender people in yoga says, “as a trans person, as someone who is working class, as someone with a hidden disability, just getting to a yoga studio, just getting up the guts is one thing.” Teo’s words resonated and I realized, just getting to a yoga studio requires Tapas.
Tapas can be felt in all areas of our lives, not just in yoga. I recently visited the Nuyorican Poets Café to hear young poets rhyme and style their spoken words. The writers offered up their hearts and souls on stage to a crowded, nameless audience. I am constantly in wonder at these shows. It strikes me that these poets too need Tapas to consistently show up and hone their craft.
As we enter summer, it’s easy to feel the tapas of the weather full on! When it is this hot, I feel a need to slow down, hydrate and rest more. My yoga teacher in India, Guru Bhoomaji Chaitanya, reminds his students, although we strive to be like the ancient yogis who lived in caves as ascetics and taught students one at a time, it isn’t practical. We live in a different time. I remember this advice especially when I am unable to slow down due to my commitments. I bring Tapas into my life as I strive for yogic balance between the pasts' teachings and modern day practicality.
When you find yourself overworked or tired, remember your purpose of action and live with intention. It’s true we all need respite from the daily hustle and it’s true we may need to be patient before we find time to rest. When necessary call in Tapas to light your inner fire and move forward with passion.
May we all shine on.