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Burning It Off

It is summer in Maine—real summer—sunny days, muggy nights, ocean breezes, thunderstorms, and intense heat. While it only lasts for a few weeks, the dog days of summer are challenging for us cold-blooded New Englanders, in part because of a lack of air conditioning, but also because it is difficult for our bodies to process and balance this heat for such a short time each year.
In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the Niyamas, or personal observances, are laid out early in the eight limbs of yoga. Tapas is the third of these personal observances, and it translates both as discipline and passion, or fire. Whether we like it or not, it is tapas season, but how we manage this tapas determines whether we become anxious and angry at the excess fire or put it to good use. When channeled well, tapas allows us to create deep commitment and literally burn off what we are holding inside ourselves that is no longer serving us.
Tapas in asana can be felt on a physical level when we feel the burn in our quads during a long-held utkatasana or get a good sweat going during a vinyasa sequence. We may purposefully ignite our inner fire with ujjayi pranayama or stoke the flames of detoxification with kapalabhati, the breath of fire. But what does this fire actually do for us? It energizes. It purifies. It clears away everything that is not essential.
This heat we intentionally build through a yoga practice is a powerful way to commit to our true selves. It is a path toward more self-discipline and self-awareness. It is a catalyst for change. But it is not brutal, punishing, or lasting. It burns through. It burns off. And then what is left is you. What is left is grace.

Student Highlight: Lucy Bergen

1. How did you find your way to yoga? I was a dancer in college, and a very hip professor introduced me to yoga 15 years ago.  She used it as a warm-up before her African dance classes. The combination of stretches and breath work felt so good in my body– it stuck with meContinue Reading

Bethany McCorkle: Lila Teacher Feature

How did I find my way into yoga? I clearly remember when I started practicing regularly enough that yoga really started to mean something to me.   It was after I had spent my last college semester studying and working abroad and had continued on with further work and traveling abroad following my graduation thatContinue Reading

Student Highlight: Alexandra Maurer

1. How did you find your way to yoga? I first studied yoga with Diane Wilson in Portland, Oregon in 1984. She had just opened a studio and we were some of her first students. This amazing woman continues to practice and teach in the Portland area. 2. What do you do for a living?Continue Reading

Let Freedom Ring!

What do you think of when you hear this phrase? Most likely you hear the lyrics to My Country ‘Tis of Thee, or perhaps it conjures images of the American flag, the Declaration of Independence, or other symbols of patriotism. That’s what this month is all about, after all, celebrating our freedom. Freedom from tyranny,Continue Reading

Jamie Worster: Lila Teacher Feature

1. How did you find your way to yoga? I was living in Colorado when a friend shared that yoga had improved her downhill skiing. I started attending classes at a local recreation center to stretch, strengthen, and build endurance so I could spend more time on the ski mountain. Looking back, I now realizeContinue Reading

A Reflection on 5 Years

As I reflect about Lila East End Yoga rounding its fifth year in business, I humbly hold the title of “studio owner. ”  For me, Lila is held and led by the community – the community of students, yogis, teachers, friends, and family. If not for all of you sharing your practice, your teachings, and yourContinue Reading

Kristy Scher: Lila Teacher Feature

1. How did you find your way to yoga?   We’d just had our first son, Isaac, and moved Massachusetts to L.A. when he was 5 weeks old.  We knew no one, had no family on the West Coast, and I was pretty desperate for some kind of nurturing and replenishing (though I didn’t really understandContinue Reading

Lauren Fensterstock: Lila Student Highlight

1. How did you find your way to yoga? I am relatively new to yoga. I have been practicing for about two years. A close friend brought me to Lila on the last day before she moved out of state. I immediately fell in love with yoga and the studio, and cherish this as anContinue Reading

Challenge and Change: Tools for Growth

Post by: Jane Banquer There’s a big round numbered birthday on my calendar this month and along with the cake and family hoopla come daily reminders that I do not carry around the same body as when I began my yoga practice. That was decades ago, on the heels of the last serious modern danceContinue Reading