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Light Your Fire

The Niyamas are the second of Patanjali's 8 Limbs of Yoga. They are moral codes or social contracts which guide us towards positive behaviour, specifically towards ourselves.

One of the niyamas is the focus of this article, Tapas. Tapas is the heat or energy that a yogi cultivates as they progress toward awareness and wisdom. On the yoga mat, tapas is the heat that is generated in the physical body, the kind that’s needed to keep moving through all those asanas we breathe into. The discipline we learn on the mat is a fantastic lesson to take off the mat and into our everyday lives. When we breathe through challenging situations in a yoga practice, such as a difficult balancing pose, or when we find the strength to lift up into an arm balance we previously thought was ‘impossible’, we can take these lessons with us and learn to be strong when facing challenging life situations. Off the mat, tapas can be translated as sternness or "sticking it out".

This experience of discomfort around "sticking it out" is the heat of tapas. The practice of tapas is learning to stay in the discomfort without succumbing to it. If you can lea