Today, let's explore the third niyama of Patanjali's 8 Limbs of Yoga, Tapas. No, that's not those delicious little snacks you find throughout Spain, here we are referring to the heat or friction that is formed when we do something with discipline and rigor.
I was just about to write that I love talking about this niyama, and then remembered I must say that about all of them! ( See list of previous blog posts of all the yamas and niyamas here.)
I think we are familiar that if something is too easy in the start, it probably won't turn out great in the end, likewise, when something seems very difficult in the beginning, it often turns out very satisfying in the end, if we can keep the sustained effort required to make it through to the end. Tapas is that sustained effort and discipline, it is that fire under our metaphorical bums that keeps us moving and stops us from giving up. However, as the tapas rise, so will the discomfort level, we just have to understand that before the breakthrough there is usually some sense of wanting to breakdown, to give up or give in.
Tapas is created in choosing not what is easy, but what is right. It's far easier saying yes to that glass of wine instead of explaining your choice not to drink, it's far easier to lay in bed instead of getting up early to do some exercise, it's easy to order a take away instead of making a healthy dinner from scratch but are these easy options going to be truly gratifying in the end? When we try to bring in discipline into our lives, it can cause friction. This friction is a result of going against our normal habits, of trying to swim against the easy flow of the current, but it is precisely this friction that causes the heat that sparks a fire within us and it is through this fire that transformation happens. Having discipline is not easy