In YTT, we were assigned to pick a sutra from part 1 and 2 that resonated with us. After much reading, rereading, and researching, (because seriously reading the sutras is like reading an early edition of the King James Bible), I chose Tapas as the sutra that I most resonated with.
Tapas is the practice causing positive change, or self-improvement. It means “to heat.” The heat from tapas is thought to burn away impurities and allow us to live authentically. Most people connect with tapas through exercising (such as asana), but it is so much more than that.
Tapas is created anytime you are feeling heat from discomfort, the good discomfort. You might feel tapas when breaking an old habit, changing your direction in life, getting out of your comfort zone, opening up to new ideas, self-discipline, going for that dream you’ve had for years, etc.
On the other side of the discomfort tapas creates, is a positive and lasting transformation.
This past year, I have tapped into some major tapas. I spent the year taking steps to create the career I have always dreamed about. It forced me to step out of my comfort zone. I have lived part panic and part excited for most of the year.
Chaturanga is perfect for producing tapas. Every time you do a chaturanga imagine building tapas, creating positive change, and becoming the best version of you.
Exercises and journal ideas to create tapas:
1 - Choose a small habit to change, like brushing your teeth with your non-dominate hand or take a different route to work and change it for a few days. What did you notice? How did you feel?
2 - Choose an uncomfortable situation and sit with the discomfort for one minute longer than when you want to get out. This could be interacting with a difficult person, it could be public speaking, it could be holding a pose, anything that is unpleasant. Can you let the heat of tapas burn through the discomfort?
3 - The next time you workout, push a little past discomfort (not pain or risking injury) and feel your muscles burn with tapas.
4 - Think of a person you have a difficult relationship with and interact with that person. See if you can maintain a positive attitude and can be friendly with this person. Afterwards, reflect on how the interaction made you feel. Did you feel the heat of tapas? Were you able to remain cool and positive?
5 - Spend some time reflecting on a big dream you’ve always wished to accomplish. List the steps needed to accomplish that dream. Take the first step. Reflect on how you felt after you took that first step.