TAPAS, the 3rd Niyama or personal practice in yoga, teaches of cultivating self-discipline and inviting challenge to ignite our inner fire…..the seed of transformation.
Igniting our internal fire (our Agni) to help us rise to challenges and move through the hard stuff, requires willingness and gentle stoking to stay motivated along our journey and burn through whatever dulls our inner spark. By turning up the heat in the form of directing energy into the discipline, we begin to transform-moving through what holds us back . This can take the form of big, sweaty active movement and it can also take the form of a slow burning challenge to stay the course in the commitment you’ve made toward self-transformation.
You’re practicing Tapas when you cultivate a regular breathing practice (pranayama), when you commit to cut out sugar from your diet, when you adhere to a workout routine, learn a language or commit to a daily meditation and/or yoga practice. You’re practicing tapas when you feel discomfort, pain or anger and you allow yourself time to reflect and feel it in order to let it move through you rather than holding onto it too long and letting it burn you up. You’re practicing tapas when you decide to forgive yourself or others. First the heat, then the cool release. When we aspire to listen deeply and learn about what makes us tick, through honest self-reflection, such challenge demands our attention and requires some heated internal energy to move forward. The discipline of letting that firey energy inside us inspire transformative release, is Tapas
And when we’re lit up on the inside, we naturally inspire and lift up those around us. Cultivating tapas can allow us to see the next obstacle or upset for what it is-an opportunity to evolve again and again.
ACTION: Ask yourself what requires self discipline for you today, or this moment if that’s applicable. And when you need a little motivation to go sweat at the gym, or take a vigorous walk, try kapalabati breath (50-100 breaths) to get you fired up! When you want to move through hurt or shame or to invite forgiveness, give this breath technique a try! Click here to find my Instagram video teaching Kapalabati Breath, or Breath of Fire. This pranayama practice seeks to spark energy in the place where our Agni (our ‘digestive fire’) resides, the solar plexus. This is also our 3rd Chakra where anxiety, shame and emotional discomfort live, yet it’s also our greatest source of personal power, self confidence and self worth.
My most current practice of Tapas is the writing of this blog! It requires a lot of self discipline for me to create an email and blog post every month because it forces me to move through limiting beliefs that I’m not a good writer and no one will be interested in it. Writing for the public is new for me and like many new things, takes a lot of energy and discipline to persevere. I find it incredibly challenging, yet hugely rewarding. So, if you enjoy reading my blog, please feel free to share with friends.
I’ll sign off this month with a quote from her incredible book, The Yamas & Niyamas by Deborah Adele
“Tapas is our determined effort to become someone of character and strength. It’s times of hopeless desperation that shape and mold us into someone of depth. In those times, when we don’t know how to get through the next minute of what seems unknown and overwhelming to us, can we hold on until we are somehow blessed by our struggle?”