After my post the other day I decided to look into Tapas a bit more. I remembered that I have a copy of a Yoga Masters training manual that I purchased a few years ago. I opened it up to see what they had to say about Tapas. I should not have been surprised to find an entire chapter about it. Reading through it I found that most of the chapter talked about the lack of willpower that modern Americans have. Its a hard topic for me. I now am planning to add Willpower to my list of things to work on along with Complacency. It gives me a great deal to think on, maybe I should start meditating so that I can focus on it. One thing at a time though, back to my daily getting on the mat goal. It’s a good tapas, and I need to start somewhere. The following is the Sutra that was referenced in the chapter. I wanted to keep track of it for future reference.
43. The perfection of the powers of the bodily vesture comes through the wearing away of impurities, and through fervent aspiration.
This is true of the physical powers, and of those which dwell in the higher vestures. There must be, first, purity; as the blood must be pure, before one can attain to physical health. But absence of impurity is not in itself enough, else would many nerveless ascetics of the cloisters rank as high saints. There is needed, further, a positive fire of the will; a keen vital vigour for the physical powers, and something finer, purer, stronger, but of kindred essence, for the higher powers. The fire of genius is something more than a phrase, for there can be no genius without the celestial fire of the awakened spiritual will.
Patañjali. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: the Book of the Spiritual Man (Chapter 2 Sutra 43).
This winter I have been experimenting with sprouting various seeds. I posted recently about sprouting wheat berries and how delicious I find them. Recently Roni from GreenLiteBites posted a recipe where she used a sweet mustard dressing. As soon as I saw it I realized how delicious it would be and wanted to try it. I came up with the following recipe that was delicious and perfect for a cold winter day where spring seem so far away. It has just a bit of a kick from the combination of mustard, vinegar, and onions in it. Even the man of the house gave it a thumbs up, after commenting on how the wheat looked a bit like spiders.
Spicy Sprouted Wheat Berry Salad
- 1 1/2 cups Wheat Berries
- 1/2 White Onion (The kind with enough flavor to burn your eyes when chopping)
- 1 cup chopped carrots
- 1 stalk celery chopped
- 3 (generous) servings Roni’s Maple Mustard Dressing
- 1 cup raisins soaked in hot water until they are nice and plump
- Start the wheat berries sprouting a few days before you want to make the salad.
- Let it grow until the tips of the green leaves show up, it seems to add a nice level of sweet to the salad.
- Look up Roni’s salad dressing and mix up a batch, tweaking it as you go for the flavor you want.
- Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and let sit a room temperature for a while for the flavors to mix.
- Eat the delicious salad until it’s gone.
Once my 31 days were done I decided to just keep going. Today is the first day that I made a decision to not get on my mat. It’s been a great run but today I need the break. I posted this on a Facebook group board and one of my teachers said the following
…my guess is you contemplate compassion, truth and definitely tapas. Thinking you DID practice yoga today.
I looked up Tapas to get a better understanding for what it is. I found this description on the Yoga Journal website and found the last paragraph describes exactly what my goals for my yoga practice are. I decided to repost it so that I can find it again when I need it. Now after all this research and some new thinking about myself and my goals I am tempted to say that I “did” yoga and count day 39 anyway 🙂
Tapas is one of the most powerful concepts in the Yoga Sutra. The word “tapas” comes from the Sanskrit verb “tap” which means “to burn.” The traditional interpretation of tapas is “fiery discipline,” the fiercely focused, constant, intense commitment necessary to burn off the impediments that keep us from being in the true state of yoga (union with the universe).
Unfortunately, many people mistakenly equate discipline in yoga practice with difficulty. They see another student striving to perfect the most difficult poses and assume she must be more disciplined and therefore more spiritually advanced.
But difficulty does not in itself make a practice transformational. It’s true that good things are sometimes difficult, but not all difficult things are automatically good. In fact, difficulty can create its own impediments. The ego is drawn to battle with difficulty: Mastering a challenging yoga pose, for example, can bring pride and an egoistic attachment to being an “advanced” yoga student.
A better way to understand tapas is to think of it as consistency in striving toward your goals: getting on the yoga mat every day, sitting on the meditation cushion every day—or forgiving your mate or your child for the 10,000th time. If you think of tapas in this vein, it becomes a more subtle but more constant practice, a practice concerned with the quality of life and relationships rather than focused on whether you can grit your teeth through another few seconds in a difficult asana.