The next limb we'll explore, is the third tenet of the Niyamas... Tapas.
Tapas is often translated to "effort, "austerity" "asceticism" and "self-discipline." It's the practice of building (then maintaining) the inner willpower and structure to engage in the practice of yoga. It's the cultivation of willingness and determination to move through the less conscious parts of the self that often refuse to participate.
In yoga, tapas is also referred to as heat — the fuel that is generated through the intense effort of practice. Tapas can be cultivated through various avenues of practice. Tapas can be supported through a specific diet that helps support the digestive fire within the body. It can be cultivated through steady practice, as well as through breathwork. How you cultivate tapas can be unique to you, however, in order to bring forth growth and change, Ravi Ravindra stated that "self-discipline is absolutely crucial in any practice of yoga."
If you are person who thrives with structure, tapas might be a principle that is much easier for you to cultivate than if you are person who has more difficulty keeping a structured calendar.
Cultivating tapas asks that you integrate the parts of the self that are less conscious — that you recruit the parts of your body and consciousness that are more interested in sitting on the couch or in engaging in unhealthy habits. It requires the whole of your being to participate in the right efforts of intention, focus, and practice.
This can at first be quite challenging, especially if you are used to letting the other part of yourself win more often than not. But the truth of the matter is, if you want to grow in your practice of yoga; if you are ready for some change in your life, it will take some work. It will require you to gather and build the inner fire, to turn on your inner desire for discipline, and will ask you to sometimes do the things that in the moment you just don't want to do . You'll need to put one foot in front of the other, even when you just want to lay down. You'll have to get to the yoga studio on the days you told yourself you would go.
You might go on like this for a while, dragging the parts of yourself along, but eventually those parts of yourself will become more integrated. What once took a ton of effort, might start to become more routine. You might even start to crave the structure that once felt like it was "too hard" or too "restrictive."
The goal of tapas, is not just to build self-discipline, but it's to build the inner focus and determination to move towards your goals — to move through the sluggishness or the habits that do not serve the goals and intentions for your life. It's about getting yourself on the mat, even on the days you don't want to, so that you can clear your mind, move your body, and continue to open up the inner channels that feed you.
So whether you are building the fire on or off the mat, it might take some work. Remember why you practice in the first place and let the part of you that wants you to grow to be the part of you that guides the other parts into coherence, so that you can carry-on and carry-out your deeper desires for health, well-being, and healing.