Tapas | Discipline

Updated: Oct 9


Every meltdown I had as a kid revolved around three things.

  1. Fighting with my brother and trying (and often failing) to get him in trouble.

  2. Not wanting to cleaning my room.

  3. Or the worst of them all…Math.

To be specific, most of my fits of rage revolved around not wanting to learn my multiplication tables. I was convinced they were unnecessary for the life I had planned as a Ballerina/Farmer.

No matter how many times my family tried to make it a game or a story to get me involved, I just hated the rote memorization of multiplication tables.

But unfortunately, there is only one way to learn them…

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Tapas is this month's theme and it is associated with the element of fire.

It is the behavior which propels us in the direction of positive change.

Maybe you were once told “follow your passion and you’ll never work a day in your life” or some nonsense like that. Well, I hate to be a bubble-burster, but, the truth is that even if we follow our passion, our lives will still be filled with work.

Tapas is the practice that keeps us going, even when the going feels like work.

Agni is the energy of fire located in the stomach. This digestive fire is what helps us process and break down our food, but it is also the passionate energy which gives us willpower to shift and create change.

The first steps towards radical transformation (be it waking up earlier, drinking more water or dismantling white supremacy) all require a strong and determined first step. And then after that first step we need consistency and discipline to stay on the path.

Cause we know the journey isn’t always going to be Carebears and Beach Days. There will be mornings when we hit “snooze” too many times. Or there will be those moments when we turn to social media for a little dopamine hit instead of pulling out our yoga mat or meditation pillow. We all do this. We all know this is the resistance.

[If you’re interested in reading more on a dialogue with Resistance and how it can impede our creative processes, I highly recommend Steven Pressfield’s “War of Art”.]

This is why we need Tapas. It keeps us on track once we’ve committed toward a goal.

However, we all know that there is a delicate balance to working with fire.

Sometimes a fire can be too intense or wild and our energy will often be reactive and aggressive. We can overextend ourselves and eventually get “burnt out”.

Or the fire could be too weak and our energy is stagnant and slow. This creates that constipated feeling of being over burdened or stuck with our current circumstances.

"To transform" is a state of being, where one is in flux and finding a new equilibrium. So having Tapas with us on the journey, is entering into the delicate and nuanced dance of progress.

Because there will also be moments on the path when we get to celebrate a “win”. We also know these well. We’ll get up earlier right before our alarm clock and feel good! One day we'll skip that extra dose of caffeine and make it through end of day with plenty of energy. And we’ll even have the time when we surprise ourselves and balance for a couple seconds in Bakasana.

These “wins” might not be daily occurrences, but if we’ve been disciplined on our path long enough, we will notice them regularly. We’ll gain traction, by observing our small shifts and gain the self-fueled momentum which gets us to the finish line. In this way we might even discover that the arduous work of transformation might actually be joyful and exciting as well.

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8 x 5 = 40; 8 x 6 = 48; 8 x 7 is 56…

Even though I did avoid taking math class after the age of 16 and pursued an art degree, I am happy to know that discipline is a tool I’ve needed many times in my life. It almost gives me hope that as I turn my attention to the future, I know it will be work, but the change we seek is happening and it’s exciting.

See you on the mat.

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© 2019 Sarah Girard Yoga.

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