Tapas refers to heat or discipline in the Niyamas of Yoga. This heat is related to a burning desire to be a better person and to improve ourselves. Can we develop this discipline both on and off the mat?
Discipline could mean showing up to practice whether or not we feel like it. Even if that means just ten minutes of meditation. It is a will to do whatever is necessary to ahchive our goals and in the practice of yoga, this is ultimately Samadhi (enlightenment). We don't have to go to 'extreme' measures in our practice of tapas - remember everything we practice is in the light of the very first Yama we looked at which is Ahimsa - non-violence and compassion to all beings (including ouself).
How can we practice Tapas on and off our mat. Here are some ideas:
1. Practice daily. Sometimes we have to make sacrifices to achieve our goals but remember that practice could be ten minutes of meditation or a short asana practice if that is all we can afford ourselves on any given day. So often we tend to think in exteme measures with an 'all or nothing' approach to life and our yoga practice and this does not have to be the case.
2. Set intentions. What is it you want to achieve? What are your goals for your practice? It is important to have this reference point as motivation and encouragement for those days when practice is difficult and we that drive to press onward and keep us on our path.
3. Apply tapas to your mind and words. It requires discipline to meditate, to relish moments of quietness and solitude; trying to avoid negative thoughts and words about ourselves and others is also an element of tapas.
Like all the yamas and niyamas, the practice of tapas can transform us for the better. "Genuine tapas makes us shine like the sun, then we can be a source of warmth and strength for others." Georg Feurstein.