This week we turn our attention toward Tapas, the third of the five niyamas (personal practices). While Tapas literally means “heat”, it is most often translated as self-discipline. Tapas reminds us of the importance our everyday choices and actions play in accomplishing our goals.
Tapas is believed to be the heat from the friction that is created when a new, positive habit rubs against an old, negative one. This heat assists in challenging patterns of behavior, which no longer serve us. From here, we experience growth. Yoga scholar Nicolai Bachman describes this as “practice causing positive change.”
In yoga, having a daily disciplined practice is referred to as Sadhana. In this respect, the discipline is undertaken in pursuit of a goal. Examples include making daily choices such as eating well and exercising regularly in order to maintain good health, cutting out unnecessary expenses in effort to pay off debt or save towards a big purchase, and going to bed on time to feel rested and ready to tackle your day.
It is important to recognize that quite often the choices that lead us to our goals go against the natural inclination for immediate satisfaction and pleasure. Many would agree it is easier to grab the fast food, splurge on a new purchase, or stay up binging on television. Tapas asks us to tune into our integrity with the life we wish to live.
During the week ahead, pay attention to your daily choices. Are you making choices that are indulgent, or making changes that build your strength and character? I encourage you to listen to your inner voice and make choices that prepare you for the heat of life.
Tune in next week as we discover the jewel of Svadhyaya, self-study.