Practicing Tapas

It is Monday morning, and I have lived here for one week. So much and yet so little has transpired in a week. Marjim, Goa, is a smaller village with tourism as its main source of income. The season has not yet started, so it is still a sleepy, quiet village. The weather now is very hot most days – about 34 degrees! It is necessary for me to stay inside between 11-3 pm and rest.

My days consist of rising around 4 am, drinking tea, and doing a little yin and meditation practice. At 6:30 am, I walk downstairs and Swati is waiting for me. She is the daughter of Mama Bhakti and is charged with looking after me. Munna, who is a young man who brought me here and was taking me to practice, suffered a bike accident and is in hospital. Very sad for him and his family. We are praying he makes a full recovery. Please send your well-wishes.

Debs India Blog - 2018 Oct 22 - Practicing Tapas

When I arrive at the Shala (Indian word for yoga school), I sit and wait until a spot opens up. I begin my practice of Ashtanga Primary series, and by Surya B I am dripping in sweat. Sharmila has a busy Mysore room of about 50 people. She is small, gentle, and has the strength of an elephant. I swear she has eyes in the back of her head. There is no cheating, not that I would dare!

When I complete the Primary Series to Setu Bandasana, then I begin the Intermediate series. This way of practicing gives you incredible focus and strength in adverse conditions, despite exhaustion and slight dehydration. Somehow, the breath and focus on the drishthi carries you through. I face my obstacles and habitual patterns each practice and say, yes, I see you. I choose to move through instead of retreat.

Practicing tapas – the heat that is created by intense practice – begins to clear the way for self-reflection as practice unfolds. Mental limitations and unconscious habits are illuminated, and the practice is to neither ignore or indulge – in this way, they dissolve away. Moving through the intensity of practice at times feels like a storm trying to remain in the breath and concentrate the mind as sensation, fear, and doubt arises. Deep calm sets in post-practice, where silence and sustenance are welcome.

I relish this time of quiet to read, journal, practice, and rest. It is easy here to do such seemingly no-things. Some days I stay in after practice. No need to go anywhere or see anything.

Bless you, all.