April 10, 2012

Sirsasana, Tapas and Fear

For the last week or so I am able to get up into headstand completely on my own, without Jeff or Harmony standing close by to catch me as my body wants to slam backwards onto the wood floors.  I have no love for Sirsasana.  It comes at the end of my practice when my body is tired and I just want to lay down in Savasana.   Placing my forearms on my mat at the end of practice; cupping my head in my palms; becoming so focused that all I am doing is breathing and finding a lift in my core; lifting my legs straight up into the air as I press into my forearms and find strength in my shoulders takes every ounce of focus that I have.  For at least a couple breaths I think of nothing except breathing and lifting.  My brain always manages to intervene on this intense moment by freaking out a little and going WTF are you doing here upside down!  But I feel - proud, is not quite the right word - accomplished, is maybe a little better. I have been putting in the effort and it is showing. 

One of the Niyamas that Patanjali lists in his Yoga Sutras is Tapas.  Tapas are a form of austerity or self discipline.  Tapas literally means heat and implies effort.  Tapas help lead us to self mastery (Himalayan Institute).  I feel as though every day since the beginning of January, I have been performing my tapas.  Every morning I wake and practice my pranayama, given to me by my teachers.  I chant before my pranayama - to some people this may sound strange, weird, crazy but it focuses me.  It gives meaning to my daily routine of pranayama.  It is acknowledgement to the greatness that exists all around us - within us.  It is truly a moment in my day where I simply sit with myself.  This focus on one of the Niyamas (observances) within the 8 limbs of Yoga is giving me a strength I didn't know existed within me.

This strength is being tested.  On Thursday I teach my first yoga class to a Grade 12 PE class.  Part of me is freaking the fuck out - when I let myself.  But I'm noticing a different part of myself that is becoming detached from this emotion - a part of myself that is acknowledging this emotion and trying really hard to just move on.  (Much easier said then done but this self is trying.)  I am also being given a brand new opportunity for work and this is making me extremely uncomfortable.  It is a risk - financially but mainly for my ego.  I feel as though I am trying to stand on my head in Sirsasana and Jeff or Harmony may or may not be there.  There may be someone to catch me if I lean too far in one direction and there may not.  The key thing is that I need to trust my own self - my own strength - my own inner light.  Sirsasana "literally turns your world upside down" (Yoga Journal) and probably helps you deal with the comfortable life you're used to living being shaken up and jostled about.

So between Sirsasana, Tapas and Fear, my yoga practice is lending a most welcome helping hand to this so called life of mine.  I am eternally grateful for my practice, my teachers and the life that I have.

*Disclaimer*  In absolutely no way has this new found trust in my yoga been easy.  It's taken me months to even venture forth and share any of what I've been exploring in the last few months on this page again.  This practice brings up a lot of crap - internal crap, external crap and just plain old crap.  It tests you, it teases you, it picks you up and hugs you and then promptly spits you back out again.  But it's teaching me to trust my self, to love my self and to be my self with no expectations.

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