In yoga class, the term “tapas” describes the way we create heat in the body by doing sun salutations. This process allows us to loosen our joints and lengthen our muscles so we can go deeper into the asana practice in order to explore more advanced poses. Thus, over time we build strength, endurance, and flexibility.
However, the Yoga Sutras also refers to tapas as self-discipline. Implementing this kind of willpower takes perseverance, focus, and drive; a kind of intense, mental asana.
Whether physical or cognitive, tapas is considered to be a type of purification process because heat is produced from molecules of energy that are in motion. Just as sweat detoxifies our body, so too can our mental pollution (our doubts, fears, and worries) be cleansed by this practice which got me thinking about my last post on dealing with uncertainty.
While we may not be able to do anything about the one area of our lives that’s up in the air, we can stir up some molecules and get busy with what we know we want to create. Whether that is learning to cook a new dish, trying a new hobby, or spending more time with our family and friends, we can use the present to manifest other things we want in our lives while the ambiguity works itself out.
Starting this form of practice isn’t easy. It takes strength to direct the focus away from our concerns or confusion, endurance to move onto something else in spite of the uncertainty, and flexibility to be open-minded.
In Yoga Sutra 2.1 Swami Satchidananda goes on to note, “Self-discipline is an aid to spiritual progress.”
For some of us, establishing confidence in faith is an advanced posture that we aspire to. And if we want to evolve and go deeper into the practice, learning to move with the currents of the unknown by way of training ourselves to stay purposefully preoccupied with what is within our power and allowing Divinity to do it’s job, allows us to refine our destiny to something that’s of a higher quality than we’ve imagined.