Tapas- the fire of your practice

Every month, WE highlights a specific virtue from the yogic code of ethics, as outlined by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutra, the most widely regarded text on yoga.  The eighth virtue in this 10-part blog series, and the theme for August at WE, is Tapas- the fire of your practice.

Tapas – “the fire of your practice”

Tapas, the third and central of the five niyamas, comes from the Sanskrit word “tap,” which means “to burn.”  In the yogic tradition, Tapas equates with self-discipline and the passion required to burn away the impurities of the mind and body.  Tapas is the fire of your practice- the force of energy that returns you to your mat again and again.  Tapas is the heat you feel in your core when you move your body with energy and breath. Tapas gets your heart pumping and heightens your desire for personal growth. Tapas is the passion that propels you to action.

The physical practice of yoga is the access point to your spiritual practice. The physical heat you feel after a round of yogi bicycles is directly linked to the spiritual heat of self-transformation.  The energy governing your sense of self-confidence, inner strength, and willpower is located in your core, the trunk of the body.  The trunk is where your “Manipura” chakra lies, which is the source energy of Tapas.

Patanjali ordered the niyamas with purpose: Tapas is situated after Santosha (“contentment”), yet before Svadhaya (“self-study”) and Ishvara Pranidhana (“surrender to the Divine”). When we enter into self-study with an attitude of surrender, we are better able to discern which habits serve us and identify those that do not. As we begin to align with the Divine and break free from our old habits, we create the psychic energy for self-transformation. All the while, we are reminded that our fire for transformation flows from a place of contentment.

This month at WE, when the sun is shining and the studio is full of natural light and heat, let’s embrace the fire of our practice together!


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