Monday, January 24, 2011
Thursday, January 20, 2011
This week’s challenge has been Tapas, or fiery dedication. I feel lately, as I mentioned in my last post regarding santosha, that the tasks required of me lately have not afforded me the time to be less than contented. If I am to be successful in my goals, it’s counterproductive to make the time to regret, worry, over-project or over-speculate.
That same situation applies to the observation of tapas. My dedication to this chosen path (to be a business owner, a student, and a teacher) definitely feels fiery at times, and most times, cannot feel otherwise. The moments that I allow myself to entertain another way, all I can envision is the people who I already teach and my fellow students and what we have to learn from each other in order to grow as people. I can’t imagine my life without them, without this discipline I have chosen. It’s that steadiness that allows me to walk through even the most challenging times with relative ease.
Where I have noted a lacking is in my practice. I have become adept at practicing “off the mat” most of the time, but sadly, sometimes that’s my only practice all week. This week I resolved to change that, and freshen my practice by attending some classes with some new-to-me teachers or ones I hadn’t practiced with in a while. I went to Randi Weiss’ Flow class at the Jewish Community Center, where I also teach. I actually attended the class that she and I share teaching on an alternating basis. She has such a solid foundation in the Ashtanga tradition and such a lovely voice. It feels great to be a student, and I am getting a little better at turning off the “instructor control panel” when I attend a class. It’s in those moments when I do, that I really connect to the practice and then walk away feeling stronger, more balanced and centered, and rejuvenated.
Last night I went to Sue Agee’s Power class at Om On, where I also teach. This was my kind of power! Her teaching style is very grounded in knowledge of anatomy (which I have to admit, I have become a bit of a geek where anatomy is concerned-- talk to me about pelvic and shoulder girdle stability!) but her delivery is very elegant and soft.
My intention was to get up and go to Peggy Boon’s 6:30 Sunrise class, but alas, tapas took a long winter’s nap. :)
Still a day and a half to observe tapas (and continue if possible-- I contentedly report that santosha and sauca are still in effect-- Day 20 no caffeine!)...
I am also including one of the quotes from my fellow teacher trainees about tapas that I think is beautifully put (I may post others)-- Thanks to Chris Yax of Hot House Yoga in Virginia Beach:
Tapas: It seems to me that tapas is the energy that gives life to the fulfillment of intention. It's fascinating to me that the energy needed to commit to an asana practice, meditation practice, or writing a book is the same energy required to take better care of yourself, to be more compassionate, loving and open hearted. It is the energy of discipline. I've been conditioned! I hear that word and immediately feel it means I have to do something I really don't want to do, but I should. I can honestly say that anything that I've felt I should do, but would rather not do, has never stayed long in my life. Rolf turned that on its head last weekend (or the one before) when he said to be disciplined is to be a disciple of that which I seek to have in my life. To rather be doing nothing else than what I'm doing. To rather be with no one else than who I am with. I am a disciple of my meditation practice. I am a disciple of my asana practice. I am a disciple of taking care of myself. I am a disciple of love. And when I forget, I am a disciple of forgiveness. Love Always in All Ways!
Aren't I lucky to have such wise people to study with?! Namaste!
Here's another post on Tapas and Svadhyaya, Week Four's Niyama, written and submitted by my teacher, Rolf Gates:
A friend and I were sharing the mellow moments in the parking lot after a 12 step meeting. The day had been warm and the evening around us gentle and fragrant. We talked for a while about family and sobriety and then the conversation drifted to surfing. We talked of good days on the water and bad and at one point my friend called another surfer “salty”. This is high praise. It means the surfer in question stays on the water. She’s out there everyday sometimes twice a day. She embodies tenacity, consistency, a passion for practice. It is the salty surfer who trains so hard on the small days that when the waves get big and courage and skill are called for she shines.
In the days following this conversation I reflected on the quality of “saltiness”. In Yoga this is called Tapas, zeal in practice. Tapas and being salty are not about a pumped up moment. They are about long-term commitment. They are about putting in your ten thousand hours in order to earn the right to be truly excellent at something. As I reflected on the nature of this kind of commitment my thoughts turned towards a personal inventory. Where in my life have I been willing to pay the price to achieve excellence? Where have I not? What is the nature of the price of excellence? What is the nature of the price of settling for less than excellence?
This does not feel black and white to me. "Salty" can also be obsessive. "Low sodium" can mean that someone has chosen balance. In either case there is Karma, cause and effect. sat nam Rolf