The Niyamas: A deeper look at tapas


*Before we begin I highly recommend you grab your journal and pen*

Tapah or tapas means austerity or discipline. It comes from the root word 'tap' which means to burn, to shine, to give out heat. This can be taken to mean burning away any impurities - physically, mentally and emotionally - to give way to our higher selves. It also means being disciplined and hard-working towards this endeavour. Now, this doesn't have to be super serious! We can look at it as being enthusiastic and having a fiery passion towards our personal growth and goals.

We can do this by showing up for ourselves each day - even when we don't feel like it. This is something that we all struggle with. I have noticed that I have a tendency to dress up procrastination as self-care - telling myself I need to rest and that should be my priority when in reality I am putting off doing the thing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge advocate of rest but I have had to learn to differentiate between rest and procrastination (and perhaps you need to do something similar). To overcome this I have gotten super clear on my ‘why’. Why do I do the things I do? What is the benefit? What is the aim? What is the intention? I am constantly asking myself these questions in relation to all of my personal wellness practices and rituals and find that it helps me to remain focused and disciplined, especially on those days where I just don’t feel like it. And of course, there are days when I don’t do them - I am only human! Take some time to consider:

Why are you on this journey of personal growth? What is your 'why'?

Why do you do certain rituals and practices?

What are your values?

What are your goals?

When you complete your rituals that connect you to yourself (e.g. meditation or asana practice) how does it make you feel? How does the day unfold compared to when you don't do them?

That last question is something that also motivates me to be disciplined in my yoga practice. On the days I do some form of yoga, whether that be pranayama (breathwork), meditation, asana practice, mantra chanting or something else, the day almost always unfolds effortlessly and in flow compared to when I don’t. So I try to focus on that feeling when I don't feel like being self-disciplined.

Having tapas can help us to develop patience. We live in a world where everything is instant and at your fingertips. We can have anything we desire, we can go anywhere we wish and speak to whoever we like - all at the click of a button. With tapas we learn to be patient and It release control. When we have self-discipline, we are able to do actions that add value to our lives each day, even if we don't see or feel the results immediately. We understand that things may not always be 'easy' but our mindset has shifted with the guidance of the previous Yamas and Niyamas and we are operating from a place of calm and gratitude. We are responding to life, rather than reacting. We are able to be patient, trust the process and let go of control. This is a huge gift to give ourselves and one that takes work. Explore the following questions to help you exercise this arm of tapas:

How can you practice patience more?

Where can you release control?

How can you respond to life, rather than reacting?

The fact that you are reading this blog is a form of Tapas. Throughout our exploration of the eight limbs of yoga, we have been shining a light on our shadows. We have been peeling back the layers to our true selves as we come home. It is imperative that you think about your internal agni (fire) and what it needs to stay alight. How can you be disciplined in your yoga practice in a healthy way? It’s not about being able to do headstands or arm balances. For some of us it may be meditating for five minutes a day whereas for others it may be an hour long asana practice most days. As long as it works for you and aids your growth towards your higher self then that’s all that matters. Comparison is human nature but with the practice of tapas you will slowly stop comparing your journey to someone else's since you know you are on the right path for you.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.