When the universe asks you to step up and commit yourself to a practice that could be life saving or life changing, what do you do? In the Yoga tradition it is when we call upon the practice of Tapasah or Tapas.
In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali introduces this concept in Book Two Sutra 43. He says: Kayedriya Siddir Asuddhi Ksayat Tapasah. This translates to, 'by austerity, impurities of body and senses are destroyed and occult powers gained.'
The direct meaning of tapas is “to burn”. When we burn or purify our senses through disciplined practices of cleansing, fasting, silence, commitment, and focus we move through a period of temporary pain or discomfort. It is believed that through this period of intensity we are able to purify and strengthen our system.
With a pure strong body, mind, and spirit we are then able to perform mystical feats. On the physical plane we gain energy, strength and flexibility, we are able to perform poses that we could never do before. On the mental plane, we gain strong insight, connect to the universal consciousness, and awaken the power to manifest our dreams and desires.
Springtime is the perfect time to enter into the practice of Tapas. Food cleansing rituals are helpful to rid the body of the winter amas or toxins.
Pranayama techniques such a bhastrika breath help to clear the subtle body channels and lighten our emotional burdens. Mental disciplines such as Trataka candle gazing, help to awaken the inner spiritual vision.
I was recently having some health challenges, and my functional medicine doctor sat me down in our last session and put me on a full cleanse regimen. No dairy, no gluten, no sugar for 2 months. At first I looked at her and said “I can’t, I would miss my chai tea with milk, my dark chocolate almonds, my goat cheese and my home made bread!
She looked at me and said, “Please, just for 2 months”. I took a deep breath, a moment of reflection. I realized it was okay. I could do this. It was time for me to start practicing my tapas.
It’s only been 3 weeks, but so far so good. I’m definitely having moments of discomfort. I can feel my body detoxing all of the heaviness from the gluten, dairy and sugar in my system. I’m getting headaches and feel super tired. But my mind is getting very clear. My meditations are very potent. I can feel the purification starting to shift, and opening my energy body.
The practice of Tapas never fails to disappoint. If you are feeling heavy, or stagnant, or stuck on any level, I encourage you to make a commitment this spring. We have just 6 weeks or so until the summer solstice. This is the absolute perfect time to practice your tapas to lighten up for summer.
Here are some ideas for burning through some of that excess winter Kapah (earth + water) energy:
1. Do a restricted food cleanse. Try taking out dairy, sugar, gluten - or all of the above.
2. Practice 3 to 10 minutes of Bastrika breath daily.
3. Practice more challenging asana. Work towards mastering an arm balance or handstand. Or commit to 108 core abdominals a day!
4. Practice Trataka Candle gazing for 10 minutes daily.
5. Do some heavy spring-cleaning. Purge your closets.
I hope you enjoy this powerful transition and take advantage of the power of the Tapas to make the most of this season where the energy is fully expanding towards the light within and without.
Sending you lots of love and strength.
With pure love, Lauren