Tapas – The Importance Of Heat In Your Yoga Practice

Did you know that sweating during your practice is actually desirable? Yes, that’s right, we want to sweat. Sweating is a great example of the yogic concept of tapas or burning of impurities (no, sorry, not the delicious food… although maybe a yoga & tapas workshop could be a good idea…).

 

The concept of tapas is: as we move through the postures and use our breath and bandhas we create a fire in our 3rd chakra. This fire burns up impurities in the body and this leads to transformation. These impurities can be physical, mental, or emotional. Sounds pretty good, right?

Despite what deodorant commercials tell you, sweating (at least during this practice) is good! Although it might not feel that way when your hands are slipping in down dog, sweat can be a great sign. Sweat tells us that this practice is doing what it is intended to. It is a physical representation of tapas. So the next time you’re sliding around on your mat, you can (try to) remember that this sweat is helping to clear impurities from the body, mind, and spirit.

Some of us have no trouble staying warm throughout practice. For others keeping up the heat it is more of a challenge. In fact, maintaining heat is one of the main reasons that we sometimes add in “vinyasas” between the seated postures. This is also why vinyasas are always optional – if you’re already feeling warm and sweaty, you don’t need to take them!

As you may have noticed from time to time in your own practice, we don’t want this fire to get too hot. If you find yourself getting overheated, you may notice that you are uncomfortable. You may even notice that you start to feel “burned out” during your practice. You don’t have to feel like this!

As our teacher, Beryl Bender Birch, says, “Tapas means transformation, not torture!”

If you find yourself getting too hot during practice remember that you can always:

  • take child’s posture

  • slow down or quiet your breath

  • or even take a few breaths through your mouth.

If you have more questions about tapas, please ask them here! Or, you can always ask us the next time you’re at the studio, we’d love to answer them.

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