In Sanskrit, Seva means 'selfless service' and it is describing the action of giving (being in service) without the need to receive anything in return.
Acts of Seva are often given as a benefit to others like a community or group. Being of service in this way can take practice and discipline. It's not always easy to simply give with no expectation of receiving something in return. You may not receive a thankyou. You may not be acknowledged. You may not be known. Selfless service takes away the need for validation and acknowledgement from our actions. We give because we want to be of service, to offer benefit to others, not to reap a reward or a nice, fuzzy feeling for ourselves.
Of course, when we find ourselves in a place in our lives where we give without the need to receive, and we offer up our time willingly and lovingly, we may also find that we receive abundantly anyway. Seva is not about never allowing ourselves to receive. We are allowed to give selflessly and...
Tapas. Not just tiny food from Spain, this is the third of the Niyamas (inner observances) outlined by Patanjali.
Tapas is our fire, our drive, our discipline.
B.K.S. Iyengar says that ‘Tapas is the conscious effort to achieve ultimate union with the Divine and to burn up all desires which stand in the way of this goal’. Plus, he says that ‘life without Tapas, is like a heart without love’.
Tapas can allow our desire for growth to get bigger, to burn like a flame. It can help us to stay on the path we have been led to (or chosen) when things get difficult. It can help us to develop mental attitudes and physical practices that continue leading us to higher states of awareness, connection and joy.
Tuning into our fire, our Tapas, makes us unshakeable. It burns up all of the ‘stuff’ on the periphery that is a distraction on our path forward and give us courage and wisdom to keep going.
It’s been a couple of weeks, but we’re getting back into our yoga philosophy posts! Today, we’re having a look at the first of the Niyamas: Saucha.
Reminder: Niyamas are thought of as inner observances that help us to build discipline and character.
In his book ‘Light On Yoga’, B.K.S. Iyengar says that ‘purity of body is essential for well-being’. Well, isn’t that kind of obvious? We all know that when we eat nourishing food, move our bodies and watch what we’re putting into our mind (and making aligned choices) we feel better. Well, maybe we don’t know that, but as a concept, I think that’s well known.
Saucha relates to cleanliness & purity, and it’s not just encouraging us to have showers or eat well so that we feel well, it’s also encouraging us to offer ourselves practices (like yoga, breathwork & meditation) that help us to cleanse ourselves internally when we’ve overindulged or taken...
We’ve been through the Yamas, now it’s time we turn our attention to the Niyamas. These are the 2nd limb described in Patanjali’s 8 Limbs of Yoga.
The Niyamas can be thought of as inner observances which can be used to help us to build discipline and character. In his book ‘Light on Yoga’, Iyengar calls these rules of conduct that apply to an individual, as opposed to the Yamas which are ethical disciplines and rules for the morality of a society as a whole. You can, of course, take the word ‘rules’ with a grain of salt.
The 5 Niyamas are:
Isvara Pranidhana (surrender to a higher power)
If you want to learn more about these Niyamas, we have more info on its way in future posts. Stay tuned!