•Mindful Methods of Discipline and The Niyama of Tapas in Yoga – What is it & How can it help

Imagine those you care about not having to compete with the shit that goes on in your mind for your undivided attention!

Learn to be disciplined enough to leave harmful states of mind at the door, or be brave enough to invite them in for tea. Whichever method you choose, the game changer is your ability to ‘see’

Tapas in Yoga is one of the Niyamas that refers to the activity of keeping the body fit or to confront and handle the inner urges without the outer show.

The NIYAMAS the second limb of Yoga in the Eight Limbs of Yoga are the suggestions prescribed for personal observance. Like the yamas, the five niyamas are not exercises or actions to be simply studied. They represent far more than an attitude. They refer to the attitude yogis must adopt towards themselves as they create a code for living soulfully.

“Don’t bring your shit into yoga and turn yoga into shit”
– Bryan Kest

The above quote by Bryan Kest (Founder of Power Yoga LA and Founder of the famous Long Slow Deep Yoga style) whom I invited out for his first visit to Australia in 2010 and travelled with him on his tours for many years shared a few teachings that when I looked back over the Sutras could see the connection between his down to earth practical words of wisdom and the traditional teachings from the Yoga Sutras.

Learning to be disciplined to leave states of mind that are harmful to yourself or others at the door.(LIke competitiveness, judging, self critisism ) Behind the notion of tapas lies the idea we can direct our energy to enthusiastically engage life and achieve our ultimate goal of creating union between the mind, body, and spirit.  By the same token have the discipline to disengage from the shit that harms us the most.  Bringing Mindfulness into Yoga helps us to recognise the mind states we are bringing onto the mat.  Then to make a choice do we wish to indulge in them or not? Are they helpful or harmful?

Tapas helps us burn up all the desires that stand in our way of us seeing things as they really are , which in turn helps us move toward feeling ‘integrated’ or ‘enlightened'(to see) . Tapas relates to austerity and qualities such as persistence, consistency and effort created over time.  For example catching your mind induging in the rubish and saying , ah there my mind goes again (making shit up for eg) , I bring it back to the here and now , to what’s real. (That’s a bicept curl of Mindfulness) Intentionally “giving up” the addiction of the mind building stories.

“Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it” ~ Dalai Lama

If we all stopped to ponder our success in terms of this quote perhaps we could find a sense of acknowledgment in terms of what it has taken to ‘be’ where you are now.  Not just by you but by those who love you too, or those who took the time to teach you things for your benefit.

Practices like Long Slow Deep Yoga where you slow things down enough you have no choice but to see what your mind is doing is like a life line.  These practices help you realise so much about your inner world and in turn transforms how you relate to your outer world.  To me the people in my outer world (especially those closest) are worth me spending time on the mat &/or in meditation.

Having the wisdom to actually do what needs to be done for the greater good, even if we don’t like it, or it is challenging is one way we can practice the Niyama of Tapas. It may be getting up to do your asana practice even in winter because you know you will feel better for it, which in turn helps those you share your life with feel better too.

Imagine that, those you care about not having to compete with the shit that goes on in your mind for your undivided attention.  Whenever I ‘don’t feel like’ practicing or the to-do list is nudging my meditation to the side I think of this and remember the importance of spending time just going inside

(it builds my in-to-me-I-see ~ Intimacy muscles)  

Tapas can also apply to making your bed or doing the dishes (Saucha) even when you don’t want to.  The Yamas and Niyamas when you begin to study them closely all start to inter-relate.

Below is an inspiring clip about more than just “making your bed”

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When you practice Yoga you are not just doing it for you, you are doing it for everybody and there are more ways than making shapes with your body to practice it. Have shared a few examples in posts over the years (#AnotherWayToPracticeYoga) so feel free to have a look whenever the harmful state of mind of “I’m not enough” or beating yourself up, telling yourself you are a ‘bad yogi’ for not having done your primary and secondary series every morning.

Instead remember, yes having the discipline to take care of your body and move is key.

The reason behind it is to help you ‘see’

You are more than what meets the eye 

And everyone else is too 

Know the driver behind your actions 

Who are you?

Enjoy your practice of Tapas


Tammy xox



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