Incorporate tapas (purification through discipline) into your yoga practice with an asana, mantra, and mudra to help bring into focus the subtle and not-so-subtle ways this niyama plays out in your life.
Tapas translates to "purification through discipline," "commitment," or "internal fire." Through discipline we can burn away impurities and spark the divinity in each of us. To incorporate tapas into your own life and practice, start with the pose, mudra (hand-and-finger gesture), and mantra (a sacred utterance repeated continuously) below. Do this practice on its own, add more poses with the accompanying 10-minute video sequence, or link all of the yamas and niyamas together, one pose as a time, forming a sequence.
Tapas Yoga Practice
Hold the pose, with its mudra, for 3–5 breaths, mindfully chanting, aloud or internally, its accompanying mantra.
Asana: Forearm Plank
Move into Sphinx Pose, propped up on your forearms with your toes curled under. On an exhalation, peel your body off the ground. Strongly radiate through your heels to activate your legs. Draw your navel toward your spine and pull your shoulder blades away from one another to avoid collapsing the chest.
Mudra: Garuda Mudra
The perseverance that it takes to sustain this pose can inspire you to cultivate commitment and discipline. Turn your hands so that the palms face up and cross your right hand over your left, clasping your thumbs for Garuda Mudra, named after the eagle that Vishnu, the lord of preservation, rides.
Mantra: Om agnaye namaha
Invoke that which you wish to transform through heat or fire (agni oragnaye) by chanting the mantra Om agnaye namaha.
Watch the video
To tie it all together or to deepen your work around tapas, try this heat-building 10-minute practice with Coral Brown.
YOGA JOURNAL, SEPT 2015