Have you ever had periods of intense discipline in your life? You probably have. And, with a specific goal in mind it was easy to stay motivated. Before the activity that would bring you towards your goal, you may have even thought about how it would feel, or look when you made it into a reality. The same is also true with Yoga practice. The most sincere practitioner of Yoga is working towards realization of their own soul, or, union with God or the Universal. To truly be a Yogi means that this goal is the basis for all ones’ actions and thoughts.
In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the second Pada, or chapter, consists of directions on the practice of Yoga. The first word in Pada II is Tapah (tapas).
So where does the discipline come from?
Consider what you feel most impelled towards in your life. It’s Ok if it’s not unmasking the truth of your soul or meeting God. It could be as simple as wanting to be better to your family or a becoming a greater teacher. If you have the good privilege of being able to access the internet and read my fledgling blog here, your goal probably isn’t mere survival, leading us to my point. As human beings, we are unique in having motives not directly related to our immediate survival or gratification. That we can live in ways that allow the time for “non-essential” pursuits such as Yoga, art, music, study, writing, etc., is a great gift. The opportunity itself to develop creatively and spiritually is an amazing inspiration when you realize that everyday you could be experiencing a more intimate relationship with the purpose of your life. This has actually brought us to the second word of this sutra, and aspect of practicing yoga – Svadhyaya – the study of self or scriptures.
Before, I said that Tapas could be translated as enthusiasm for practice. This is an excellent translation for our purposes. The original Greek word enthousiasmos meant literally to be possessed by a God, inspiring you to do things beyond your normal capacities. The meaning now describes an energetic state in which a person is passionately engaged, absorbed and excited with their present work or interest.
Again, it’s Ok if you’re goal isn’t merger with the Universe or whatever, yet…*chuckle* Dedicate your practice to a higher source or fundamental aspect of truth. If it’s a very physically objective goal, such as becoming more lithe and sinewy, you could dedicate your practice to honoring the beautiful design and amazing capabilities of your body. It’s about living up to the potential you are given to shine in this world. If you dedicate your practice to a higher Being, even if only imagined, it will have positive affects. A fountain of energy can seem to spring up from inside, enthusiasm, tapas. Commit yourself to the goal, that realization, that God, and it’s as if your efforts become acknowledged. A little something extra is pushing you in the right direction. This is the greatest aspect of practice – Isvarapranidhanani – surrender to God…or another way to think of it, surrender of Ego.
Here’s a nice page I found describing enthusiasm.
Where do you get your inspiration from? Tell us in the comments section and see how your inspiration can inspire others!