“How can you rise, if you have not burned”
― Hiba Fatima Ahmad
Weekly Focus: Tapas (to burn, to create heat)
Tapas is the third Niyama and is derived from the Sanskrit word “tap” meaning to burn.
Most simply translated as “to burn” or “to create heat,” tapas can also be seen as discipline or austerity. We can come into tapas through repetition, creating an internal fire that you may feel physically in asana (physical yoga practice) or more subtly, that we may notice cleansing our thoughts, words, and actions. We utilize tapasic practices to chip away at the raw edges, to refine the Self, and to find the diamond inside. We cannot clear all away at once however. Like all practices, it is work, and it can be easier or harder on certain days. Knowing when to calm and invigorate our fire is a tool to doing our best. If we keep the candle burning at both ends, we will burn out. How do we find the balance?
Align/Flow: Vrischikasana (Scorpion Pose)
Scorpion Pose is a forearm stand that incorporates a deep back bend, allowing our feet to drop over ourselves, towards the head. Talk about a fiery position! This pose will bring fire to the core, the shoulders, upper back and more! We require a warm, heated body to even get into this pose, at which time the temperature really goes up. Often times these fiery poses require immense focus and concentration — which can help us to release and push away outside distraction. When asked to work on these big poses, remember to simply do your best, no more and no less. The offer is here for you to set the expectation — make it reasonable, make it achievable, and make it work for you.
Stretch/Restore: Scorpion Stretch
A common stretch for the front of the shoulder, this will be a lovely position to counter all of that heavy shoulder work in forearm stand. This stretch can be taken on the floor or at the wall. What we love about this pose is it’s adaptability — by adjusting the position of our extended arm we can greatly impact the ways in which we feel this stretch. Here are a few different arm positions to try at home:
- Arm extended to a “Y,” reaching about 45 degrees up from the shoulder
- Arm extended to a “T,” reaching directly out from the shoulder
- Arm lying in a “cactus,” extended directly out of the shoulder and bent at the elbow
- Arm extended to a reverse “V,” reaching about 45 degrees down from the shoulder