The Niyamas | Tapas

The third of the Niyamas is tapas.

In Sanskrit, the word literally translates heat. It’s the idea of refining metal to shape it and burn off the impurities. It can also be thought of as the fire inside of you--that internal motivation. 

The heart of tapas is discipline.

I’ve heard it described as fiery discipline. Not willpower, but a willingness to engage hard things in order to transform us.

Fire reveals. There is a beautiful line in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Corinthians about the building materials that we use in our lives. He writes that “fire will prove the quality of each man’s work” Wood, hay and stubble get burned up, but gold, silver and precious stones remain. .
  The idea of tapas is the same as silver being refined by fire.  Doing things that purify.

We live in a no pain, no gain society and the idea of fiery discipline can bring up images of people sweating and working to their breaking point.  That is not the point of tapas.

Instead think of it as the slow, steady building of heat.  The day-to-day discipline it takes to get up each morning and do your practice.  To maintain correct habits like sleep, exercise, eating right and working.

Intense flames burn out.  But slow, steady heat builds.  It is lasting in its work.

How do you need to practice tapas this week? Can you build some heat?


© Yogi with a Day JobMaira Gall