Tapas is a Sanskrit word that means heat/fire. It is the burning desire we have for our practice and also the heat our practice builds. It is the purifying, transformative, cleansing element of practice. On a physical level, tapas burns away stiffness and stagnation by warming the body, our fascia and joints and loosening things up. As we sweat away toxins and twist through our spine and digestive system, we cleanse the body and release what we don’t need. When we link this purification to past experiences we’re holding on to and negative characteristics that are holding us back, we can take the cleansing to a deeper level. All we need is the intention to transform, to burn away the past and become exactly who we want to be RIGHT NOW! With the sincere desire to become our best selves, fueled by tapas for our practice, we make it happen.
Tapas is controlled by the breath. At first we want to build heat in our bodies with strong, conscious, deep breaths. As the body warms and the practice can become challenging, we want to use the steadiness of our breath so the heat doesn’t overwhelm us. We want to remember our intention to purify on a deeper level, and continually think of those qualities or past experiences that we are releasing and burning away. If we breathe deeply and consciously with our intention throughout class, we can emerge completely transformed.
And for the non-yogis out there, you can still create tapas in your lives and reflect upon how you might build this heat and what you want to use it to purify within yourself. We are all capable of becoming exactly who we want to be if we work at it. So get out there, breathe, create heat and transform! Anything is possible with practice and intention.