A life without TAPAS is like a heart without love
"A life without Tapas is like a heart without love" BKS Iyengar
Tapas: to glow and be illuminated with an inner aim and direction in life for growth.
Yoga has a set of internal and external restraints called the Yamas and Niyamas – the yogic restraints prescribed to live your life in a better, more fruitful way. Tapas is one of the Niyamas - ways in which you should manage your relationship with your self - the Yamas are about managing your relationship with the external world.
The word "tapas" comes from the Sanskrit verb "tap" which means "to burn." Tapas can be described as the austerities and practices we use to make our body and spirit strong – the burn of making the right choices for our mind, body and spirit – to get out of bed for that early class, to take time to meditate, to choose healthy food, to overcome inertia. There is an element of endurance and commitment to tapas – tapas is not a quick fix.
Within your asana or physical practice – there is a possibility that a difficult or advanced practice might be viewed as being a greater tapas – but of course the ego is attracted to difficulty too – think of tapas more long term and less self serving – a steady burning effort toward real growth and change. Its not making it into handstand, its finding time every day to make a salad to take to work instead of buying a pie – to help others - to speak well of people - it’s about good choices burning away at samskaras – habitual patterns and past impressions which hold us back.