The Limbs of Yoga: Austerities
Austerities (Tapas) means to endure difficulties and challenges with positive intention, understanding that we put very specific emotions and beliefs onto our experiences, but really, they are all subjective, and more often one has to endure some hardship to truly realize potential. Tapas is action done with faith and without the expectation of specific results. Our Western understanding of austerities and suffering simply doesn’t allow the idea of hardship or struggle to be anything but pejorative. We exist in a state where our whole existence is geared towards the acquisition of material goods, sense enjoyment and emotional comfort.
The idea that austerity is a choice, and can be highly beneficial to our quest for happiness or contentment, is anathema to our understanding of existence. Austerities in yoga are what could be described as blessings in disguise. I’d go so far to say that they don’t even require a disguise, they are blatant advantages. By being able to release attachment to sense pleasures and go without, you are able to clearly see the real from the unreal, and let go of that which doesn’t serve you. The long-term adoption of austerities has many benefits aside from enhanced spiritual capacity. This week, make like a yogi and give something up to grow – get out of bed and do yoga when you want to sleep, say no to cocktails and treats, give away something you treasure, then add it up. Drinking, partying, shopping—it all costs money. Productivity gains go through the roof. Waking up every day feeling fresh and full of juice is incredible, and that enjoyment doesn’t diminish.