As organic creatures born of the elements of water, air, fire, and earth, we also become the proud carriers of these elements throughout our lifetime. A balance of our elements keeps us healthy and allows us to function. The element of fire is connected with passion, warmth, and intensity. Some of us carry more fire than others year-round but currently, the element of fire is naturally stoked in each of us as we commit to intentions for the new calendar year ahead.
One of the niyamas (yogic guides for balanced living) that comes to mind is tapas. Tapas has many translations from its Sanskrit root related to a burning desire for the practice. It is sometimes described as a fiery commitment that keeps us coming back to our mats day after day. We know that too much heat in a fire can burn out the fire too quickly; too little heat and there is no spark to keep the fire going. It would be better to find the sustainable slow burn of our inner fires to support us as we enter 2013.
As we climb onto our yoga mats with intensity and a desire for health and wellbeing, and perhaps a dash of ego to get fit and fabulous in the process, we must keep our inner fires in check. Show up to the mat each day but don’t push too hard or punish yourself if you don’t get there. Meet your edge in asana (postures) and accept challenges but also know when to back off as the Winter body requires gentler care.
I always tell my students: yoga is a practice for life, not just for today. There is no race or deadline or monetary reward. Just show up. Do let your tapas fires burn bright from within. Also allow Winter’s cooler temperatures to keep you from overheating. With this natural balance in place, you are likely to see your intentions on and off the mat fully realized…with a warm heart and a cool head.