A Core Practice of Yoga: Tapas

With temperatures climbing, we figured this would be a good time for us to explore a core practice of yoga: Tapas! And no, I’m not talking about tasty dishes served on little plates for your dining pleasure, I’m talking heat! In Sanskrit, Tapas translates as heat, or sometimes discipline, and refers to a purification process. Tapas is the practice of ridding our mind, body, and hearts of toxins, and the heat generated during this practice. In the practice of creating discipline in our lives, this heat we feel in the purification process can also be described as the friction generated when we go against the grain. On our mats, many of us will create heat through a warm vinyasa practice, but some of us more so than others. If I’m someone experienced in a rigorous asana flow, I might feel the physical heat naturally generated with such movement, but I’m not necessarily burning through impurities on a more subtle level because I’m not going against the grain. However, when I sit up and engage in meditation, chances are I WILL be generating some heat during this practice because I’m disciplining myself to stay seated, even when my mind is protesting loudly. As a result, my practice of Tapas is not my physical asana practice, instead, it’s simply staying seated on my meditation pillow. On the other hand, another person might come to their meditation practice and experience a state of calm and deep peace throughout, but in a warm vinyasa class, this person might be bumping up against all kinds of toxins, whether it’s physical, mental or emotional, and experiencing intense Tapas. So what will you start recognizing in your practice, both on the mat and off? The invitation here is to start to notice where and when you are feeling that internal resistance and, in the process of forming new and helpful habits, feel the burn!