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Tapas: Burning Through Old Habits

This week in yoga class, we are learning about Tapas which translates as Self-discipline, Internal Heat or Zeal. I find Tapas as I muster the courage to "face the fire" in my life or order to transform, possibly by setting boundaries or making time for radical self-care. When I make choices to be still, to move slowly and to be steady as opposed to what may be fun, fast and easy, I am practicing Tapas. When I stay just one minute longer when unpleasant feelings and sensations arise, I give myself the space to notice and choose the best path for my journey of transformation. Tapas encompasses the day to day choices that burn through old, non-supportive habits and patterns toward building strength, character and a more joyful life.

The Journey

by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice – though the whole house began to tremble and you felt the old tug at your ankles. “Mend my life!” each voice cried. But you didn’t stop. You knew what you had to do, though the wind pried with its stiff fingers at the very foundations, though their melancholy was terrible. It was already late enough, and a wild night, and the road full of fallen branches and stones. But little by little, as you left their voices behind, the stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds, and there was a new voice which you slowly recognized as your own, that kept you company as you strode deeper and deeper into the world, determined to do the only thing you could do – determined to save the only life you could save.

-Mary Oliver


Out of the night that covers me,       Black as the pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be       For my unconquerable soul. In the fell clutch of circumstance       I have not winced nor cried aloud. Under the bludgeonings of chance       My head is bloody, but unbowed. Beyond this place of wrath and tears       Looms but the Horror of the shade, And yet the menace of the years       Finds and shall find me unafraid. It matters not how strait the gate,       How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate,       I am the captain of my soul.


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