It is November now and here in Far North Queensland we are experiencing hot yoga without the use of a heater. Sweating and practicing in the heat has multiple benefits not just physically. Today. let’s talk about the ‘tapas” the fiery self-discipline which is part of the Niyamas included in the ancient 8 limbed yoga system. You may have heard me talking about these systems in class. Therefore you may know asana, or the practice of the poses only comes 4th in priority of realising unity – yoga. The 8 limbed system of yoga is a very valuable toolbox for our every day life challenges, especially when we encounter “heat” in the sense of pressure or responsibilities. These are the times where we need to focus and act even more with balance and kindness. In Sanskrit, “niyama” means “observance,” and these practices extend the ethical guidelines provided in the first limb, the yamas. While “yama” is usually translated as “restraint,” and the yamas outline actions and attitudes we ought to avoid, the niyamas describe actions and attitudes that we should cultivate to help us overcome the illusion of separation and the suffering it causes. There are five of these niyamas but today we will focus on tapas. The word “tapas” comes from the Sanskrit verb “tap” which means “to burn.” The traditional interpretation of tapas is “fiery discipline,” the fiercely focused, constant, intense commitment necessary to burn off the impediments that keep us from being in the true state of yoga (union with the universe).
In today’s time it’s often misunderstood as some may try to exhaust themselves on the mat. Although this cleansing through exhaustion may help open up pathways which were unknown to you or have been withheld, tapas reminds us more so to keep practicing our most challenging discipline.
It may be the discipline of honouring your body and/or energy, it may be to reach to better fitness or a healthier lifestyle, it may be to offer more service or acceptance towards yourself and/or someone close by.
When we are on the mat, sweating and the heat is “just getting too much” we are reminded to have a close look inside: What is our mind, breath and body doing?
What are we telling ourself or which mindset leads us through this heated practice?
Do the answer and reactions somehow relate to what is happening in our life off the mat? And if we feel much more empowerment on the mat, how could we translate this empowerment off the mat?
The observance (the practice of niyama) on the mat is such a powerful tool to guide us in situations off the mat.
So while practicing Yoga anywhere in the heat, let’s enjoy the sweat ( it detoxes our body) and learning more about how we can detoxify our life.
With heat rising and mango season just around the corner. Learn from the indians how to cool down healthy. I love this recipe, as there are green mangos under the trees everywhere.
I’ve borrowed this recipe from a webpage called Sailu’s Food. Enjoy!
Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 15 min
Raw green mango – 1 large or 2 medium sized
Roasted cumin powder – 1 1/4 tsps
Mineral rich Salt – 1 1/4 tsps
Palm Sugar syrup – as required
Black pepper corns – 15-20
Mint leaves – 25-30
Chilled water – as required
Boil mangoes in 3 cups of water OR pressure cook the mangoes till soft. Cool and remove the soft mango pulp from the seed and skin. Grind to a smooth paste.
To prepare a ONE tall glass of Aam Panna. In a blender, add 4 tbsps of mango pulp, 2 tbsps of sugar syrup, 1/4 tsp roasted cumin powder, 1/4 tsp of salt, 3-4 black pepper corns and 6 to 7 mint leaves and blend to combine well. Add 1 1/4 cup chilled water and continue to blend for few seconds.
Pour into a tall glass with crushed ice and serve.
The left over ground mango pulp from Step 1 can be kept in a clean plastic container and stored in the freezer. Use the mango pulp as required to prepare Aam Panna.
Adjust palm sugar syrup based on the sourness of the mango. Adjust spices according to taste.
Some of the mangoes are very fibrous and hence the cooked mango that is grounded needs to be strained before use.
Aam Panna can be strained and served, though I do not strain.