Ahimsa and Tapas - Compassion and Motivation
Ink Drawing by Amanda Latchmore
Discussions in the Yoga Class
AHIMSA AND TAPAS - COMPASSION AND MOTIVATION
In one of my Advanced Level Yoga classes recently, we were discussing the ‘Yamas ’ (Wise Characteristics), and in particular ‘Ahimsa ’ - non-violence. We began by thinking about non-violence and compassion in relation to ourselves. One of my students maintained that we would get nothing done in life without a bit of mental self-flagellation. I guess he was saying we need ‘Tapas ’ - which is one of the ‘Niyamas ’ (Codes for Soulful Living). Tapas is the fiery energy, discipline and motivation that we need to complete tasks, bring projects to fruition and fulfil our dreams.
Ahimsa was probably more on my mind than Tapas , because people who had got themselves to class on such a regular basis that they were now in my Advanced class, were unlikely to be lacking in motivation; more likely, high achieving and hard on themselves. The people needing Tapas could be those Beginners who came to class a couple of times and then gave up.
Even the most motivated people may have some projects or tasks that have been neglected or unfinished. The fiery energy and passion of Tapas needs to be breathed into those projects to get them done. But I believe Tapas needs to be tempered with the acceptance and compassion that go hand in hand with Ahimsa , otherwise we can get angry at ourselves and others. We want to fulfil our dreams without killing ourselves (or anyone else) on the way.
There truly is nothing like regular yoga practice for cultivating discipline, motivation and compassion. Get on your mat every day and everything else falls much more easily into place.