Using Discipline to Transform Your Life

Tapas is the third Niyama, and it translates to discipline. The Niyamas make up the second of the 8 Limbs of Yoga and are essentially personal disciplines or observances we practice in an effort to find freedom.

This is the tenth post in a series of posts about the 8 Limbs. If you’d like to read the other nine and an overview first, go here. I’ll wait.


Tapas comes from the Sanskrit verb “to tap” and it means to burn in it’s more literal translation. “Firery discipline” is another way to describe it — that constant, intense focused commitment necessary to stay on the path. With many impediments in our way, we use tapas to keep us in a true state of yoga, which is union with all of life.

If we don’t set goals, we are continually pulled along by whatever the day brings. It’s only when we take a step back, observe and evaluate life —think about the things we want, the things that really matter — that we are able to forge ahead with confidence.

Traditionally, tapas was described in the context of yoga practice — on and off the mat. We physically practice tapas by coming to the mat each day, burning through our thought patterns and the things that keep us stuck by breathing and moving our bodies, instead of staying in conditioned thinking.

Off the mat we practice tapas by staying disciplined enough to live by all of the eight limbs, not just the ones that are convenient on any given day.

Anyone can practice tapas by …

  • Setting goals and working to acheive those goals each day
  • Creating a daily schedule and adhering to it
  • Staying away from things that don’t serve us — addictive behaviors, too much social media, unhealthy food …
  • Keeping a steady pulse on all areas of life — work, relationships, health, creativity, self-care — and scheduling time to attend to each

All of the articles we read about time management, self-care, meditation, mindfulness all point to tapas. To live a good life, to achieve, to be happy — all require discipline.


Where in life are you slacking?

What do you wish you were more disciplined about?

What do you know you can acheive if you just put your head down and push through?

Tapas. Your best life is waiting.