The Hot Dewy TAPAS

tapah svadhyaya isvara pranidhanani kriya yogah

~ The Yoga Sutras by Patanjali, ch.2.1
  • Tapah = austerity, discipline, heat
  • Svadyaha = self-study, self-inqury
  • Isvara = supreme being, god, the Universe, the Force
  • Pranidhana = surrender, acceptance, devotion
  • Kriya yogah = action of yoga

Some translate Tapas, Svadyaya and Isvara Pranidhana as three discipline and it is said that Patanjali considered them to be the most important part of yoga practice.

Out of these three components of yoga practice, tapas is often translated as simply heat. But it extends way more than that and I find it to be one of the most practical aspect of yoga practice in daily life.

In order to explain the way I understand tapas, imagine yourself scuba diving in our beautiful Indonesian water.

Practice without tapas (our usual reaction to things in life)

In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali explains that without the practice of tapas, we are generally reacting to life in two ways: aversion and attachment.

Reacting with aversion

In this case, if we react with aversion, we panic, we breathe fast and furious and quickly ascending to the surface to get out, which can actually cause your DEATH! You would have what’s called decompression sickness and if you’re lucky, you would be sent to the decompression chamber in the closest hospital and most of the time, you are completely paralysed on the spot. This is one of the first things you learn when you take a course with your diving instructor. Ascend slowly.

Reacting with attachment

In the case of attachment, some people have no respect for marine life. The general rule of thumb is DO NOT TOUCH marine life no matter how beautiful they may look. Many creatures have skin, such as turtle that is not meant to be touched by humans. And after all, we, humans, are the destroyers of other species. So marine life, too is best kept on their own. This quarantine time is proving that very quickly. If we stay away from nature, nature can quickly restore itself. And we’ve all seen these cocky divers (free divers AND scuba divers) get extremely close to animals for their Instagram worthy shots and boom! the animals react quickly and the diver escapes near death. So it can be just simply dangerous, too.

Either way, without the practice of tapas, we are simply reacting to situations. We do this all the time in life. Relationships, work, money, food, you name it.

Adding the practice of tapas

In the above example, if you add the practice of tapas, it would look like this:

Practice of tapas

In the practice of tapas, we feel the sensations and feelings after you perceive the stimulus. That’s why it can be translated as heat. If you were in a situation where you felt angry because someone said something hostile to you, the anger gives you the feeling of heat rising up.

Remember, our perception may not always be an observation such as in the case in the diagram. A shark may be underwater in your vicinity (if you’re lucky) but the shark may not be trying to kill you (,which is the case in most of the time).

The late Michael Stone used to say that any feelings generally last about five minutes and if you really practice tapas, you can feel it change even just slightly. The practice of tapas allows us to move in the world more consciously (and most of the time, less regrets).

Interesting note

The interesting thing is that reaction works in the same way for things that we mostly consider as positive, like passion.

How many times have you said or heard someone say that they “lost themselves in love”?

When I was a vegetarian, in the beginning, I was so passionate about the cause that I was constantly angry and I walked around lecturing people. And we all know that lecturing people immediately put people behind the walls of defence mechanism. There was no connection or understanding happening, which is a big loss as an activist.

So even something we consider “good” can be harmful to us and others without the practice of tapas.

What do you think?

Let me know in comments or dm me and let me know how this applies to you! Is there anything you’d like to add? Would love to hear from you!

About the author: Tomomi Becot

Tomomi is the owner of Flying Elephant Yoga in Pulau Weh, Sumatra, Indonesia. She started practicing yoga when she first moved to Canada as a teenager in 2000. She then became a certified yoga teacher in 2008 and has been an integral part of extensive yoga teacher training programs both at a 200hr and 500hr level. After teaching and traveling in North America, Mexico, Australia, and Bali, Indonesia, she established her own independent yoga school in 2014. Her classes are based on vinyasa or flow mixed with her own personality and experience, and various styles of yoga she studied along her journey. With the background of vinyasa, power vinyasa, yin, pre- and post-natal yoga, she encourages her students to observe their minds while nurturing their own individuality. Her classes are about honoring both the traditional and the modern, physical and mental aspects of yoga.

Has one comment to “The Hot Dewy TAPAS”

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  1. Cédric - 26pm30+00:00, 06202063001, 20+00:00pmFri, 26 Jun 2020 13:23:42 +0000 Reply

    Hello Tomomi,

    Cet article est extrêmement intéressant et ton analogie avec le requin permet vraiment de bien visualiser le concept. Cela fait deux ans que je fais partie d’une association dont le but ultime (et soyons honnête rarement atteint) est de travailler sur soi pour arriver à un certain à un état de conscience qui n’est pas envisagé de la même façon par tout le monde mais je pense que l’on peut raisonnablement faire un rapprochement avec le concept d’Atman dont du parle dans la vidéo sur les Kosah.
    Tout ça pour dire que le cheminement passe d’abord par une étude la plus objective de soi-même , pour ensuite pouvoir lâcher prise sur nos passions, nos réflexes de pensées conditionnées par notre expérience, notre éducation et pouvoir ensuite , et j’en arrive au but , avoir suffisamment de contrôle pour prendre les meilleures décisions, souvent tracées dans la voie du milieu (pas toujours mais c’est un autre débat ^^)
    Dis moi si je me trompe mais ça me semble assez proche de l’application des tapas?
    Dans l’application quotidienne , ce n’est pas toujours facile car le rythme nous emporte quelque fois et nous empêche malgré nous de prendre le temps de bien appliquer cette discipline (je ne suis pas fan du terme car , en Français en tout cas , il a souvent une connotation péjorative mais il convient pourtant parfaitement).

    Bravo pour cet oasys car j’y ai déjà trouvé ce que je ne cherchais pas en plus de ce que je voulais découvrir ; )

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