Make a change.
Feel the heat of resistance
Melt away old habits
And burn through ruinous conditioning.
Offer negative behaviour
In the fire of tapas
And chart your course toward freedom.
~Nicolai Bachman 

Tapas, meaning to heat, has the potential to create a new habit, a new skill, a new way of being, and a new pathway in life. This guideline of tapas invites you to stand in the heat of discomfort in order to be dismantled and changed through self-discipline. It is this heat that will incinerate impurities in the body, mind, and emotions, and will transform your life. 

First you need to make an intention to commit to a positive change in your life. This could be exercising more by committing to do Yoga Asanas (postures) every day or going for a walk and being in nature more. This could be committing to eating healthier and possibly eliminating something unhealthy in your diet, like caffeine or junk food. This could be breaking an old habit like biting your nails or grinding your teeth. These habitual behaviours can stagnate your life. You can commit to learning something new and showing up to practice every day. I recently was gifted a Harmonium for my birthday and I have committed to practicing every day. My teacher has instructed me to start practicing scales. Although I want to get right into the fun stuff and learn to play a song, I know that it requires practicing scales first in order to prepare for the song playing. This reminds me of a quote from the movie-The Great Debaters: “We do what we have to do in order to do what we want to do.” Ray Charles was asked later on in his career if he still practiced and prepared for concerts. He replied that he played scales every day, because when the scales were in his fingers, he could play anything. What are you practicing for? What are you doing today, to prepare you for what you want to do tomorrow. 

Once you commit to something, then you can make a plan of action. Through the discipline and effort you will burn through the old negative harmful pattern and create a new pattern or skill. When you are trying to break an old habit with a new positive habit it creates friction and creates this priceless heat of discomfort. At first it can be uncomfortable, but knowing that this is good for you may encourage you to continue. You can consciously challenge long-standing patterns of behaviours through the practice of Tapas. The inevitable pain or discomfort (dukha) will produce the sweet nectar of positive, lasting inner transformation. 

This niyamas not only speaks of your personal effort, but also to those cathartic times of almost hopeless desperation when you find yourself in the pain of unexpected loss or debilitating sickness, or when you feel your life has been turned upside down. It is these times that shape and meld you into someone of depth, strength and character. Even though you cannot control the outer world, you can control the way you react to life. Tapas invites you to choose fearlessly and to open ourselves to the experiences. This is the greatest gift life could offer us. You can let these times break you down or break you open. It is Yoga that invites your hearts to break open and it is through your daily practices and your ability to stay in unpleasantness that prepares us for all of life. 

Tapas eventually changes your nature, turning you into a cauldron that can withstand any of life’s challenge. In the path of Yoga, healthy change is necessary for progress to occur. I invite you to commit to a daily practice of Yoga. It can be a seated meditation, or even one sun salutation, or singing a chant. Even three minutes a day has the ability to transform your life. As Pattabhi Jois reminds us, “Practice, and all is coming.”


  1. Love the Harmonium!

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