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तपस् Tapas

Posted by Julie Andres on Monday, June 27, 2011 Under: niyamas
The third niyama - tapas - is usually translated from Sanskrit to English as 'austerity'. Austerity is one of those words that comes with connotations of severity and withdrawal - along the lines of the yama, bramacharya, commonly translated as 'celibacy' (see previous post).
In the vernacular: quit, give up, diet, unplug.
Even the word 'practice' can make us twinge at the thought of hardship. I have endeavored to explore this reaction - the hankering that erupts when one supposes that full indulgence is not 'allowed'. This feeling of deprivation, the fight to fill the emptiness, may well be what causes our minds to struggle so when we are about to do something that's good for us - go for a run, pass on the cheesecake, get onto the yoga mat …. It's a hard one to go along with, isn't it? Who in their right mind would choose austerity as we understand it?
I like to consider the yamas and niyamas as wholly original concepts that stem from fresh, new words. That's why Sanskrit is becoming so valuable to me as I shed my old skin and don the new one that is yoga. Yes, I know it's an ancient language, but its words help me to access the 'beginner's mind' that is so essential to learning fully.
So, from this little place that is my theory and my practice, tapas has come to mean 'self-discipline'. Patanjali's Sutra 2.43 Kayedriya Siddhir Asuddhi Ksayat Tapasah (By austerity, impurities of body and senses are destroyed and occult powers gained), tells me that we can know the principles behind yoga inside and out, but the real reward - the breaking out of the habits that shackle us - comes when we knuckle down and do it.

In : niyamas 

Tags: yamas  niyamas  eight limbs  ashtanga  yoga  self-discipline  austerity 

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