Marathon as Tapas?

Kaya Indriya Siddhih Ashuddhi Kshayat Tapasah

Yoga Sutra 2.43

“Through ascesis or training of the senses (tapas), there comes a destruction of mental impurities, and an ensuing mastery or perfection over the body and the mental organs of senses and actions”

I suppose I wasn’t finding enough discipline in my yoga and meditation practices, as I saw it necessary to train for and run The Los Angeles Marathon this year.

The whole time I was training people would ask me why I was doing this. Had I ever run a marathon before? – No. Was I in Cross Country in High School? – No. Did I even like running? – No, not particularly.

It was leading me though, this strange desire to run. I knew somehow that training myself to run a marathon would have untold benefits.

The first month I found myself angry. Angry all the time, angry for no reason. Was the added adrenaline making me this aggressive?

The second month saw bouts of crying replacing anger.  Tears, either of intense gratitude, or hidden sorrow, would pour out of me after each long weekend run.

The third month brought processing. I noticed that the held emotions from the first two months had been peeling off of me. I spent time on long runs uncovering, discovering, and attempting to discard old beliefs behind me on the path as I ran ahead.

As marathon time approached I notice a new sense of levelness and calm. Long runs were peaceful. I noticed a change in myself not only on runs, but in my every day life. I was also so proud of myself for following through with the discipline of getting up to run no matter what. In the cold, in the rain, when I just didn’t want to run – I got up, laced my shoes and did it anyway.

The marathon day was an amazing experience. Slowly and steadily, overcoming my emotional obstacles, I finished the task with joy and ease. I am not at all lying when I say that the marathon was FUN. I had a blast, and a  smile on my face the majority of the race.

I am blessed to have explored the destruction of mental impurities in this way, and look forward to the ensuing mastery over the body and mind, Marathon as tapas or not :)