Pandemic or Panacea? A Message Of Hope in the Age of COVID-19 (2020).

In these tumultuous times, as the dust begins to settle, many of us find ourselves adapting to the new reality of the pandemic. The past weeks have ushered in a sense of strangeness that has become our new normal. In the realm of yoga, this transformative heat is known as tapas, the fire of catharsis, a crucible of change and purification.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has unfolded, it has led many of us through stages akin to grief. We started with disbelief and confusion, followed by shock as the virus’s rapid spread and impact sank in. Anger and speculation arose as we questioned the origins and those responsible.

Then came the grip of fear, concern, and curiosity, wondering about our community’s safety and the well-being of our loved ones.

In the weeks leading up to today, March 27, 2020, I felt the impending lockdown, prompting my decision to step back from work and the outside world, prioritising my family. We removed our daughter from school early, in attempt to do our bit to slow the virus’s spread.

There was a moment where the feeling of discombobulation and deep sorrow prevailed as we realised the potential of a single virus devastating nations and touching every aspect of our lives. But like any journey through derailment and grief, if we endure with courage and faith, eventually a glimmer of hope emerges. A moment of enlightenment arrives, revealing that amidst adversity, we can discover the gifts of humility and grace.

In her writings on yoga’s ethical practice, the Yamas & Niyamas, Deborah Adele speaks on the virtue of tapas (self-discipline) and the heat of metamorphosis. She reminds us that a crisis can be a transformative force. She emphasises that it is in the barren places, where we have exhausted all resources, that new strength and character are born if we choose to embrace the experience.

“During these times we have two choices: we can break down or we can break open. We can’t prevent these times of catharsis in our lives or know their shape or outcome, but we can prepare ourselves for them through our daily practice, through building our ability to stay in unpleasantness, and through the small, daily choices we make.”

After two weeks of social distancing and introspection, I began to see this pandemic as a message from Mother Earth. It is a long-overdue global shift, offering us a valuable gift in disguise.

During these times, amidst the chaos and media hype, I find it essential to call a time-out. To take time each day, somewhere quiet, to sit in the sun, or on a cushion, or with a candle. To feel the sun on your skin, the warmth of the candle, the alliance of your breath. To still the mind, connect with nature, or at least feel the presence of the greater whole that connects us. 

In this space of inner sanctum, we cultivate gratitude, and along with that can come the awareness of our interdependence.

Faith, and sadhana (daily spiritual practice) are critical during these times. It is an opportunity to work on our infrastructure and contemplate what it truly means to be a positive participant on this planet. And, as the planet is insisting we strip it back to basics, it is an opportunity to start again. To rebuild from the ground up.

In B.K.S. Iyengar’s, Light on Yoga, he reminds us that without firm foundations a house cannot stand. The Yamas (social ethics) and Niyamas (personal disciplines) of the eight-fold path of yoga provide these foundations, encouraging us to embrace kindness, honesty, cleanliness, contentment, and more.

In stillness, we find the essence of yoga. As Deborah Adele suggests, trust that on the other side of any crisis, a panacea awaits. Can we stand the heat of being dismantled and changed forever by the fire? Can we prepare ourselves daily through our practice, our staying power, and our choices? Can we stay in the burning with integrity? Can we hold on for the blessing?

In these challenging times, as we face the heat of transformation (the tapas), may we embrace the opportunity for positive change and growth.


Discover more about tapas, the Yamas and Niyamas, in the ‘Rock Your Chakras, Roll Your Yamas, Yoga Toolbox for Life.’ It may be of support during this time, and can be delivered to your door! 

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Author: Tanaya Ti’en

Tanaya Ti en

Tanaya Ti en

When she’s not at home in Western Australia with her favourite humans, Florence the Dalmatian, and Turbo the rescue cat, Tanaya Ti’en is an accredited Yoga Therapist and Yoga Teacher, Ayurvedic Lifestyle Coach, Civil Celebrant, and founder of Mind Body Collective Australia. Her passion, work, and philosophy is centred around the mind-body connection, and the mind’s role in illness, wellness, dis-ease, and the healing process.