Tapas (the yoga concept, not the food)

In previous posts, I’ve mentioned that both yoga and Pilates are useful practices in conjunction with receiving the Rolf Method of Structural Integration. However, to experience thebenefits of either yoga or Pilates, one has to actually do the practice. Despite knowing that, on Saturday morning I was trying to decide whether going to yoga class would improve my day. I ended up going, had a good class and (not surprisingly) felt much better afterwards both physically and mentally.

This experience reminded me of tapas, one of the niyamas in classical yoga philosophy. Tapas is translated a number of ways, including as zeal or discipline. Although I have practiced and enjoyed yoga for many years, I wouldn’t say that I burn with zeal for it most of the time. Rather, I apply the idea of tapas as consistent practice.

Unroll the mat!

Unroll the mat!

Charlotte Bell, in her book “Mindful Yoga Mindful Life” says:

Tapas then is a discipline of balancing our lives so that we invest our resources wisely. Much of practicing tapas is developing the art of discernment, determining which of our daily commitments support the general direction of our evolutionary track and which do not. … I’ve found tapas to be a meld of discipline, simplicity, mindfulness and enthusiasm.

I encourage you to consistently practice good habits like exercise, eating healthy food and regularly receiving bodywork. Whether we think of these habits as tapas, life rules or just the way we roll, the benefits accumulate over time.


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