tea light candles burning representing our inner flame, or Tapas, the third Niyama

The Third Niyama, Tapas

Imagine a flickering flame within you, a spark of potent energy yearning to be unleashed. This, in essence, is the third Niyama, Tapas, or ethical observance, in yogic philosophy.  Coined by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras, the eight limbs (Ashtanga) weave a path towards enlightenment, and Tapas ignites the fire within that propels us on this transformative journey.

What is Tapas?

Tapas is a multifaceted gem, shimmering with various interpretations. Tapas is the unwavering commitment that shows up on your yoga mat even when the bed beckons. It’s the unwavering desire for self-improvement that fuels your dedication to not just your yoga practice, but your entire life.

Think of Tapas as your inner furnace. It burns away impurities – negative thoughts, habits, and attachments – leaving behind a refined character and a blossoming of positive qualities.  This internal fire isn’t about self-flagellation or rigid rules. It’s about nurturing a passionate dedication to becoming the best version of yourself.

Why is Tapas Important?

Why is Tapas so important? Because it’s the fuel that propels you forward on your yogic journey. It empowers you to overcome challenges and self-doubt, acting as a shield against procrastination and a motivator to keep practicing even when faced with difficulties. Imagine hitting a plateau in your yoga practice.  Tapas becomes the force that pushes you to explore more challenging poses or refine your alignment. It fosters laser-like focus, allowing you to stay present in the moment, distractions losing their grip as your determination intensifies.

Bringing Tapas to Life: Practices for Everyday Growth

But Tapas isn’t confined to the four corners of your yoga mat. It’s a philosophy to be woven into the fabric of your daily life.  Establishing a regular yoga practice is the cornerstone. Consistency is key, even if it’s just a short period each day or week.  Think of it as feeding your inner fire with kindling. This practice becomes a crucible, forging your discipline and resilience.

Remember, Tapas isn’t about pushing yourself to the point of burnout. It’s about honouring your limitations while fostering a gentle nudge towards growth. It encourages you to make healthy choices – nourishing your body with good food, prioritising adequate sleep – these practices ensure your inner fire burns brightly and consistently.

Tapas: A Shield Against Distraction

Think of it this way: the modern world is a constant barrage of distractions and instant gratification.  Tapas becomes a shield against this. It encourages you to cultivate positive habits, activities that nourish your mind and spirit. Maybe it’s meditation, journaling, spending time in nature, or simply engaging in activities that bring you genuine joy.  These practices become the logs that keep your inner fire blazing.

Tapas is also about setting clear intentions for your yoga practice and daily life.  This fire needs a purpose – knowing what you’re working towards keeps you motivated. Perhaps it’s mastering that challenging pose or simply cultivating more patience and compassion.  Whatever your goals, let them be the guiding light for your Tapas.

Facing Challenges with Tapas: Resilience and Renewal

Life throws curveballs, and there will be days when challenges arise.  Maybe you miss a yoga practice or indulge in an unhealthy choice. When faced with difficulties, approach them with a “Tapas-filled” attitude. Focus on solutions, learn from setbacks, and move forward with resilience.  Remember, the fire might flicker occasionally, but with renewed commitment, you can reignite it brighter than before.

The Benefits of Cultivating Tapas

In our fast-paced world, cultivating Tapas can be revolutionary. It allows us to break free from the cycle of instant gratification and focus on long-term goals. It helps us resist the urge for the quick fix and choose habits that support our overall well-being.  Tapas fosters an unwavering focus, allowing us to concentrate on what truly matters, shielding us from the constant notifications and information overload that fragment our attention.  Most importantly, it reminds us to prioritise self-care – nourishing our physical, mental, and emotional well-being – in a world that often pushes these needs to the back burner.

Tapas is a lifelong journey. There will be days when motivation dips, and self-doubt creeps in.  Be kind to yourself on these days. Acknowledge your struggles, and recommit to your practice with renewed determination.  The fire within you might flicker, but it will never truly be extinguished.

The rewards of cultivating this inner fire are immense. Increased discipline and willpower become your companions, leading to a more fulfilling life filled with healthy choices. Enhanced focus and concentration spill over into all aspects of your life, from your work to your relationships.  Finally, Tapas unlocks a deep sense of inner peace and contentment, a realisation that true fulfilment comes not from external validation or the accumulation of possessions, but from the journey of self-improvement and the quiet strength that burns brightly within.

If you’d like more information on anything yoga please contact me or book here to practise with me in Marlow, Twickenham and online.

With love

Anney xx

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