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Natural Awakenings North Central New Jersey

Rosie's Corner: Tapas (The Third Niyama)

by guest contributor Nicole Zornitzer

Tapas, otherwise known as self-discipline, exposes us to the concept of being able to stay in the fire (of life) and await our blessing. Through the physical asana practice and daily commitment to showing up on our mat, we begin to further understand this niyama (positive duties or observances). Through self-study and a dedication to learning, we expand this knowledge.

I recently learned that Ram Das and I share in something very unique; we both suffered from a stroke.  April 26 marks the fifth year that I get to celebrate being alive (again). When the event occurred, life came to a halt for my family, but the strange thing for me was that I suddenly had never felt more alive. I was surrounded by an energy that is indescribable and probably only understood by those that have had a near death experience. I felt the guiding hand of a life force, the energy of my ancestors surrounding my soul telling me that everything was going to be okay.  For three months I sat in my backyard and looked up at the sky, the trees, the birds and I listened to the sound of the wind moving each branch of the trees. I waited, I listened, I nurtured my soul, my body and my mind.  

Ram Das explained that instead of being swallowed by self-pity, he chose to view his experience as being burned by the fire of the divine. He speaks of “being stroked” versus having “a stroke”.  My experiences since this moment in time and my ability to absorb what I went through are very similar to that of Ram’s words.

We all have a choice; we can break down or break open during a time of extreme catharsis. Tapas helps us grow our ability to stay in the unknown and scary versus run away in fear.

April is my month, my month to reflect, my month to acknowledge, my month to love and respect me.  I too have been “stroked” by the hands of my angels and the level of gratitude I feel is immense, to have this second chance to experience life on this earth.

Nicole Zornitzer, E-RYT 1000, Yoga Therapist, founder of Niyama Yoga & Wellness Studio in Randolph, New Jersey.