I hope you had the loveliest start of the year. One month in, I am very excited about 2020. For me, this will be the year of breath, as I received funding to go to pranayama teacher training with Sudhir Tiwari for a whole year and was accepted to study for two weeks in Kaivalyadham, India, with his father, O.P. Tiwari. I will also have a book chapter on breath published by My Bibliothèque and will develop two performance pieces with breath at their core. And, of course, my regular pranayama classes at Rosina Bonsu Moves!
Being fully booked until November 2020 has made me consider discipline in the context of yoga practice. For someone like me, who thrives with clear boundaries, discipline can be yet another way of hardening and an excuse for negative self-talk. Yet, discipline is none of these things. It comes from the same route as disciple; it is an engagement with a technique in order to learn. It is not a straight jacket, it is not something that, if missed, hell breaks loose and one becomes a bad yogi. True discipline is an opportunity.
Tapas, the third of the five Niyamas (or internal observances) is usually translated as austerities, and also self-discipline. But the literal meaning is heat, or to burn. Through discipline and in practice, we are able to build the heat necessary to purify and to transform. And that, sometimes, means to soften, to rest, to let go, to try less hard. Just like nature if doing right now. It might be a new year but we are in the middle of Winter. Do conserve your energy for February. Are you disciplined enough to listen to what you need?