Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Not That Kind of Tapas

I was not feeling too cozy at a little before nine this morning when I stepped out into a -2 degree windchill to open up the studio for class at Jaya.  My jeans frozen, and legs froze along with them, in just the block and a half between my front door and the subway entrance!  I saw puddles of dog pee frozen solid!  It was so cold, even when I was underground waiting for a transfer at Jay Street later, that I couldn't put my hood down or take my gloves off, and I was still shivering!  At that point I was somewhat petulantly making my way to Ashtanga.  I wanted to stay holed up in our chronically over-heated cozy as can be apartment, but I felt so sleepy and sluggish, I knew I wouldn't get anything useful done if I didn't get myself out of the apartment and moving, so I kicked my butt out the door and to the Om Factory for my hour-long led Ashtanga class.

If you aren't familiar with Ashtanga, you can start with this earlier blog post I wrote about it.  I made it uptown, got changed, got into the room, and got moving.  Still reluctantly at first, but it only took a few minutes for me to revel in the glory of being more than warm enough in shorts and a tank top.  Ah, the power of tapas!  No, not Spanish small plates: your internal fire!  Your body is a furnace. 

You know this already.  You learned about warm and cold blooded animals years ago.  Mammals, birds, and maybe dinosaurs are warm blooded, while reptiles, fish, and insects are cold blooded.  There's lots of other families of animals too, obviously, but those are some good examples that allow you to mostly extrapolate the rest.  Warm blooded animals use the bulk of the calories they burn to heat their bodies to a consistent temperature reguardless of the ambient temperature around them.  Whether it's 100 degrees, or 10, your body is right around 98.6 degrees.  On the other hands, snakes love lounging on rocks in the sunshine because they need the sun's warmth to heat their bodies up enough for them to have the energy necessary to move, hunt, eat, digest, and all the other fun things animals do.  That's why reptiles can eat so infrequently.  The sun does their heating for them, so they don't need anywhere near as much fuel as warm blooded animals do.

'Tapas' is a yoga term that refers to your internal furnace, but not just in the sense of your being warm-blooded.  'Tapas' has to do with how hot you get when you're working hard, and how good you feel afterward.  You build tapas through movement and effort, and the tapas purifies your body.  On an energetic level, you also build tapas when you practice discipline: getting up twenty minutes early to meditate, saying no to that second doughnut, or that ungrounded sexual experience.  In that sense, you can sort of think of tapas as the friction created between what you want, and what you're doing.  That heat purifies our intentions and strengthens our will power, so saying no to that temptation is easier the next time.

I was making use of both kinds of tapas today: resisting the temptation to curl up on the couch with my kitties in favor of a very strenuous yoga class, and the challenge of the class itself.  By the time I bundled myself back up and headed out, it didn't feel so cold after all.  Maybe it was a few degrees warmer by then, but it was more than that.  I'd stoked my internal furnace, and it would stay roaring for the rest of the day.

When the going gets cold, the yogis get going! 

Gather your will power and get out there for a workout, whether it's a video you pop in at home, a run layered under lots of under armor or heat tech, a fierce round of pumping iron at the gym, or the toughest yoga class on the schedule for today.  You may not feel too excited about it when you're on your way, but you definitely won't regret it!  And then maybe go get some tapas.  I won't tell!
Live Omily,
~em

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