Regular practice of hot yoga changes each of us by degree, and while we bend and morph, the temperature continues to rise. Tapas (the heat of inner fire) is measured in mottos, and one word may suffice. They generate comfort in the moment. Their precepts are precious, their maxims are necessary. Simple mottos lift and invite our attention.
We may ask, is this really worth it?
My motto jumps to answer, and I say it again to find the core of its truth pushing against my doubt. It’s not much really, just a word. But the sustaining power of word and deep breath link me to a deeper awareness and I realize my bending low keeps me, like the palm tree in strong wind, from breaking.
Isn’t there another – easier – way?
And again my motto answers. Of course there is an easier way, and it’s found by returning to the basics. This is the yogic awareness of the intimate link between breath and life. This is everything, and yoga teaches us to ask the question of what we truly need. Holding on becomes a death grip when excessive, and yogis are returning to the basics: the breath, the core of being.
Is there a way to use my motto to help put me through the physical machination and hard work on my mat one more time?
My motto, weary with my doubt, answers a third time, trust there is a way and never underestimate the power of a word and its effect.
The power of word has always been recognized in philosophy and belief. John’s Gospel states, “In the beginning was the Word.” The Rik Veda strikes the same tone, “In the beginning was Brahman, with whom was the Word.” There are other examples, but the centrality and power of Word is the commonality.
It’s clear that a word-based mantra can change everything – and it works by degree – a changing and healing mantra starts as a mere physical exercise of mind.
Over time, if one holds the mantra as a precious note delivered to your hand as if from the beak of the highest condor, it becomes a genuine appeal from the heart and strikes deep into the soul.