Tapas In Our Yoga Practice: Inviting in the Fire

Simon-ParkDetermination and a passion are descriptive of the Sanskrit word tapas. Tapas (austerities; discipline; literally “heat”) is one of the Niyamas (niyamas describe actions and attitudes that we should cultivate to overcome the illusion of separation and the suffering it causes) the fire that we create within our yoga practice that helps us burn through all of the heaps of emotional, mental and physical baggage that we have aquired along our lifes path.

I love this next quote, and do not know the author to which to give the credit…

“Behind the notion of tapas lies the idea we can direct our energy to enthusiastically engage life and achieve our ultimate goal of creating union with the Divine. Tapas helps us burn up all the desires that stand in our way of this goal.”

Tapas is not easy by any means. Nope! It is meant to burn through the ego. Trust me when I say, the ego definitely does not appreciate toppling over in yoga class or for that matter looking ‘foolish’ in any way shape or form! In fact the ego when bruised will usually take the form of anger. Oh yes, it’s true, yogis can get angry! For some yogis not being able to do a pose not only opens a can of worms it can turn into a tub full of snakes! (Make that hissing snakes) I once watched a student curse out a teacher and then turn to the entire class and call us a couple of unmentionables as well.

I had the pleasure of taking a class from Rusty Wells a few weekends ago at Wanderlust and he talked about being open, curious, and childlike. (And not in a terrible twos temper tantrum kind of way) He spoke about what was it like for you when you first began practicing yoga? You were cool, you did what the teacher said, you tried new things, you were willing to invite new poses in, new sensations, new challenges. At some unfortunate point alot of people become yoga “experts” (yawn) and put the brakes on their tapas, that fire that brings about transformation, growth and keeps the yoga love flame burning. Yoga is a relationship, you have to put the work in. You have to be willing to give, to burn and ultimately transform or the flame will go out. It requires everything that you have and then more at times. It will test you to your breaking point, because therein lies the beauty, the alchemy, the truth of who you really are. Beneath the frustrion, the anger, and after you’ve gone through your own ring of fire you will arrive at something familiar something real, and a person you can proudly call your true self.

Unleashing the Magic: What Handstand Will Teach You

brian la river handstanding aloneYoga is not achieved by mere reading of the scriptures.
Hatha Yoga Pradipika I.65

Fresh back from Wanderlust Festival I am feeling inspired by the many yogis I met over my three days I spent “yoga-ing” it up on top of the mountain. As Brock and Krista Cahill’s assistant during my time there I had the pleasure of helping a lot of these fine yogis levitate 9,000 ft in the air in what for some of them, may have been their very first handstand! What an amazing experience!

What struck me in particular was the focus, effort, patience, and persistence these yogis showed. Nobody comes out of the womb handstanding, so if you want to learn how you must be willing to fall.

I would be willing to argue that the willingness to fall is one of the surest signs that someone will be successful at finding their handstand. I know from my personal experience when I became comfortable with falling was when I began to finally “get it”.

Handstand really brings up those spooky fear of the unknown. Learning it becomes an excercise in believing, and trusting not only in your own abilities but that if you fall (and you will sometimes) that everything is going to be okay.

Unlike poses like Warrior two you can’t see what is coming at you so easily, and you aren’t firmly rooted to the earth in preparation, you must learn to let go and believe that the universe (or the person spotting you) will catch you.

Believing that everything will be okay releases the magic. There is little room for doubt when you are balancing on your hands. If you want to receive what the universe has to offer you must let go and believe.

Spiritual Gangster Video: Rise Of The Cool Yogi

 

Spiritual Gangsters: Rise Of The Cool Yogi

Sounds like a movie title, doesn’t it?

Well, that’s because I copied Transformers (Rise of the Machines) forgive me,..but I had to get your attention…

Onward and upward to the point of this post then…

(woot! woot!)

Well, before I get blasted for saying “rise of the cool yogi” what I mean by that is, when I was first getting involved in yoga I had a fear that fitting in with my fellow yogis meant wearing patchouli oil, not drinking my favorite wine and speaking barely above a whisper…(and a breathy one at that!)

Thank God, that is not the case!

In fact, I think this video is really proof of the fact that yogis are quite stylin’ these days! (and by stylin’ I mean we are setting trends and taking names, but don’t let it go to your head yogis…remember? No ego!)

You go Spiritual Gangster!

This video gets me all excited!

It makes me want to boogie around my living room wearing my stunner shades, a bandana, Spiritual Gangster clothes (of course!) and maybe even a mustache!

(and, sometimes I do,… mustache included,…video to follow!)

Enjoy My Spiritual Gangsters!

Is Patience Still a Virtue?

“A patient mind is the best remedy for trouble.” – Plaut

In the age of instant gratification, instant messages, and fast food is patience still a virtue?

We like things to happen fast!!! When they don’t we get agitated, we just want to get on with it already! Have you ever been in such a hurry that you imagined a problem that wasn’t there and in trying to “fix” it actually created a real problem? If you are like me and the other 99.9% of the humans, the answer is yes!

Yoga teaches us to pause in those moments where you feel your blood pressure rising, the old samskaras (habits) taking hold and say “Ommmmmm”

okay,..no I’m kidding (but I had to make sure you were actually listening and hadn’t gotten distracted!)

The Yoga Sutras says “The pain that has not yet happened is avoidable.”

How you ask?

Breathe!

Let’s face it, you aren’t doing yourself any favours by running out to meet your troubles halfway.

Patience young grasshopper!

Breathe. Meditate. Yoga. ..Ahhhhh…

Be patient, everything happens as it should.