The most common translation of Tapas is ‘self discipline’. For the yogi the heart of this is the self-discipline to practice, ideally every day. We come back to the mat day after day despite what may be occurring in our lives. The sutras remind us-
“Only when a correct method is cultivated continuously over a long period of time with total wholehearted devotion does the practice becomes strong and well established’, or as Pattabi Jois said – ‘Practice, practice, practice’.
Important for the yogi is self- discipline in maintaining a sattvic diet, surrounding yourself with positive influences from friends to films; employment and entertainment; nurturing and nourishing the body, mind, spirit and spending time in nature.
The more literal translation of Tapas is ‘heat’ or ‘fire’ or ‘ to burn’ and in this sense we practice asana, pranayama and meditation to burn off impurities. Impurities can occur in the body, the mind or energetically. Tapas can help us to cultivate a burning desire for spiritual progress, to create a fiery passion for transformation and to proceed on the path with willingness, enthusiasm and self discipline.