As summer heats up, we invite in full commitment and devotion to our practice as we nurture our inner fire. Tapas is derived from the Sanskrit root ‘tap’ which literally means to burn. This is often translated as discipline and is the heat that drives us and fuels our passions. Both on and off the mat, Tapas is the fire within us that makes us come alive.
Tapas gives way to the uncompromising: it burns away the unnecessary and illuminates our priorities, boundaries, and thresholds. The more closely we live in alignment with the elements in our lives that stoke our inner fire, the more we experience our own vitality and gain clarity on our passions and innate purpose in life.
The practice of tapas calls for gathering the fire within to activate our energy, to overcome inertia and to take charge of our own destiny. The first level of this practice involves restoring our bodies to optimum health and vitality through diet, exercise and proper sleep. This requires inner strength and willpower!
The classical yogic texts consider pranayama to be the highest form of tapas as it destroys the veil of ignorance and illuminates our intellect. Prana burns away both physical and mental impurities, purifies and strengthens the nervous system and awakens dormant energy.
Here are 3 more practices to cultivate Tapas!
Mantras have transformative power. Mantras are words or sounds repeated to aid concentration in meditation and are used to protect the mind by calling upon and awakening Transcendental Energy. Japa Mantra is a practice that consists of the repetition of the same mantra, which can be composed of a single syllable or a string of mantric sounds. The mantra associated with Tapas is “Om Agnaye Namaha.” The spiritual energy contained in a sacred mantra infuses our practice with intention and purpose. As we bow in reverence to the sacred element of fire, that which transforms, draw to mind something that you wish to transmute, release, or cultivate.
Plank Pose or Phalakasana, builds heat and requires commitment and discipline! Plank works the entire body effectively in one static position. Challenge yourself to practice this asana for 30 seconds a few times a day, and you will strengthen your abdominals, hands, wrists, arms, shoulders, back, core, glutes and legs. But just as importantly, this pose builds strength of mind, focus and concentration. Remember you are stronger than you know!
Just as we need heat and tapas to fuel our practice, we can easily become overheated, overactivated and overextended which can lead to burnout. So as we reach the peak of summertime heat and activity, remember to pause, to tend to your own inner fire and to cultivate balance. We invite in this practice of Yoga Nidra to witness our strength in surrender and to trust this process of releasing any barriers or restrictions that may be holding us back from living our most authentic expression of Self.
Tapas are an internal wisdom that motivates you to stay devoted to your practice even when you feel uninspired or feel like giving up. Remembering the discipline of tapas will help reignite your inner fire and passion for yoga while staying committed to your spiritual path. Cultivating tapas will result in a radiant body and a clear mind by awakening the dormant energy within us.