Tapas is one of the key principles of Vedic thought and Yoga practice, without which it cannot be understood. Tapas is described as the power of Agni, our inner flame of awareness.

Tapas is often a synonym for Yoga itself. Yoga is Tapas or developing the inner fire (Agni) and will power necessary for a radical change of Consciousness. Tapas is the basis of the Yogagni or Fire of Yoga from which the Kundalini Shakti arises.




Tapas can be looked at broadly as self-discipline, inner focus, concentration and self-sacrifice, cultivating our inner flame of aspiration. As such, Tapas is the way of all siddhis, all true and lasting accomplishments in life and Self-realization.

Tapas literally means creating heat, but an inner heat, fervor or aspiration to create and sustain a higher awareness. It reflects the powers of Agni, extending to its highest level as Tapo-Loka, the realm of Tapas, which is identified with Chit-Shakti, the power of Pure Consciousness.

Tapoloka, the realm of Tapas, Agni or Consciousness is the sixth of the seven lokas, next to Satya Loka, the realm of truth or reality that is the highest loka. Tapas is connected to the Vedic idea of fire offerings or Yajnas, as the inner fire to which we offer our own minds to our higher Self.


Tapas and Yoga Sutras


Tapas is the first principle of Kriya Yoga mentioned in the first sutra of the second section of Yoga Sutras, which is called Sadhana Pada, the section relating to Yoga practice. Tapas is followed by Svadhyaya or Self-examination and Ishvara Pranidhana or surrender to the Divine within as the three factors or Kriya Yoga, which later in the text occur as the first three of the five Niyamas or Yogic rules of right living.

Tapas thus appears as the main principle of the Yamas and Niyamas, Yogic values and attitudes, which all involve a deeper application of the energy of our Consciousness towards inner transformation.

As the second section of the Yoga Sutras is Sadhana Pada teaching all eight limbs of Yoga, Tapas is the basis of all Yoga practice in all eight limbs.


Tapas and the Eight Limbs of Yoga


Asana aims at developing Tapas at a physical level, which implies patience, stillness, steadiness and endurance of environmental and physiological changes.


Pranayama aims to increase the Pranagni, the fire of Prana, which requires the Tapas of Prana through developing a deeper breathing process, leading to an internal Prana and the breathless state, no longer identifying the Prana with the physical body.


Pratyahara aims to turn the mind and senses within, offering them to our inner fire of awareness. Such introversion preserves and develops our inner energy. It is a type of Tapas and creates a special inner heat and purification.


Dharana as concentration is first of all developing and concentrating our inner flame of awareness, the one pointed mind. As such it enkindles the Agni or inner fire for continuous meditation.


Dhyana or meditation consists of gradually merging the mind into that inner flame of Self-awareness, in which all distractions disappear.


Samadhi, the highest limb of Yoga, as unitary consciousness consists of the highest Tapas that burns away all the karmic patterns in the mind. We become the highest Agni of the inner Self.


Samyama, which refers to the unity of Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi as the inner Yoga, is the ultimate focus of Tapas that unfolds all the powers of Yoga. It requires full attention, resolve and dedication within.


Developing Tapas


Tapas requires that we turn our energy within, whether from the body,  senses, prana or mind, and develop an internal heat, luster and radiance to focus and direct our awareness upwards. Tapas involves introspection, self-examination and Self-inquiry to burn away the impurities of the outgoing mind and its emotional reactions.

Tapas is of referred along with Tejas which is a fire of effort, self-motivation, independence, daring and fearlessness. Such higher Tapas is the deeper potential of Agni and Pitta on all levels.

To be inwardly strong, we need more Tapas and less sense of entitlement or self-assertion. Only then is true Yoga Sadhana possible. Tapas creates the inner heat through which our awareness ripens and gains its own strength, apart from all outer influences.


We need to bring Tapas back into our way of life. Our culture of entitlement and entertainment today weakens our character, individuality and resolve. To be inwardly strong we need more Tapas today, more of the inner labor and less of the outer entertainment.

Make sure to cultivate Tapas in your own life through a dedicated and self-transcending practice, whether Pranayama, Mantra and Meditation and various Yoga Sadhanas. To develop the fire of Tapas your practice must be concentrated, determined, patient, steady and dedicated.

Tapas must become the most important factor in your life for which you apply your main purpose, energy and labor, like that of an artist dedicated to their creative work above all. Learn to cultivate the inner flame of awareness throughout the day.

May the power of Tapas and the Supreme Agni arise within you!

David Frawley (Vamadeva Shastri)


Latest Articles
Articles on Vedic Counseling

Beyond Mind, Memory and Karma

Memory is the dominant function of the mind and forms the basis of our identity in life. Yet if we can detach from the mind and let go of the memory based ego we can remember our immortal consciousness, our true Self that is not bound by time or space,

Read More »
Articles on Ayurveda

Ojas: The Power of Immunity in Yoga and Ayurveda

Ojas is the ultimate resort of strength, patience and endurance for body and mind. Ojas is cultivated in Ayurveda for disease prevention, deep healing, rejuvenation and longevity. Ojas is cultivated in Yoga for inner strength, determination and vitality, steadiness and focus of mind and a more powerful prana for higher

Read More »
Articles on Vedic Counseling

Exploring the Inner Cosmology of Consciousness

  The inner cosmos has its own structure as does the outer cosmos. Each reflects the other. In fact, one could say that the inner cosmos creates the outer cosmos.   The cosmos is not something that exists outside of us extending into vast regions of space beyond our comprehension.

Read More »
Articles on Vedic Counseling

Technology and Consciousness: The Need to Awaken our Inner Being

Can we develop the inner Consciousness to master our powerful new information technology? Or will it come to rule over us through its artificial intelligence?   Humanity has undergone a series of continual, relentless, and powerful technological developments over the last two centuries. Each generation has had to live in

Read More »
Articles on Vedic Management

Economics & Emotions: Artha and Swartha

It easy to say that decisions are best made when we are not acting out of our emotions. Yet emotions play a crucial decision-making role by influencing our minds, however objective we may try to be. At a collective level, emotions play an important role in shaping the destinies of

Read More »
Articles on Vedic Counseling

Yogic Pratyahara and Psychological Immunity

Pratyahara Yoga   What is the main Yoga practice we can do for developing our psychological immunity, emotional calm, and inner equipoise in these difficult times? First, we must note that the principles and practices of Yoga overall are about mastery over the mind, so they all aid in psychological

Read More »
Articles on Ayurveda

Svastha: Wellbeing in Ayurveda

Ayurveda, the Vedic science of life for all living beings, defines health and wellbeing in terms of Svastha. Svastha means abiding (stha) in one’s own Self (Sva). Yet to understand it, we must recognize that this Vedic abiding in our own nature reflects the Vedic view of the universe, which

Read More »
Articles on Vedic Management

Wealth, Money, and Vedic Knowledge

One of the common myths about Vedic knowledge is that it requires an austere lifestyle, where people divest themselves of all pleasures and embrace the life of a hermit. Some believe it regards wealth as evil and shuns it with all its might. While Vedic knowledge recommends the right usage

Read More »
Hindu Deities

The Goddess Kali and the Spiritual Heart

Ma Kali and the Yoga of Knowledge Ma Kali is the primary Goddess of Yoga, the background Yoga Shakti, the power of Yoga or Kriya Shakti. Hers is the force that takes our energy within, which causes us to seek the eternal and lose interest in the outer affairs of

Read More »
Articles on Vedic Counseling

Shravana: The Vedic Yoga of Listening

There is an inner state of listening, called Shravana in Vedanta, where the mind is silent, receptive and non-reactive, allowing it to access a higher level of communication and learning. This meditative of listening called Shravana holds an inner space in which the real meaning of anything said can be

Read More »
Articles on Tantra

Shiva and Shakti Yogas

Yoga means unification, which is first the unity of all the dualities and contraries that constitute the energies of life. Yoga philosophy teaches us to understand and transcend duality, but this rests upon harmonizing the dualities within us in a transformative state of balance. Shiva and Shakti as the dual

Read More »
Articles on Ayurveda

Yoga & Ayurveda in an Age of Social and Economic Uncertainty

In these times of economic and social uncertainty, Yoga and Ayurveda practitioners and schools have faced numerous unpredictable challenges, and often a significant decline in their revenues. After the global shutdown following the initial Covid outbreak, many Yoga Studios had to close, and many were not able to reopen again

Read More »
Articles on Ayurveda

Ayurveda and the Mind: Keys to Yoga and Ayurveda Psychology

Ayurveda is inherently a psychological as much as a physical system of medicine. Its scope of practice includes both physical (sharirika) and mental (manasika) diseases. Therefore, we cannot really understand Ayurveda without looking at its view of the mind and consciousness. As Ayurveda holds that diseases arise more from our

Read More »
Articles on Ayurveda

Why the practice of Yoga should begin with Ayurveda

Following Ayurveda along with Yoga  helps us gain complete harmony and balance in body and mind so that we can discover our true Self that is one with all. Most people today practice Yoga, particularly asana and pranayama, for health benefits as the primary factor, extending at times to mantra,

Read More »

Dr Frawley's Latest Course>>

The Vedic Secrets of the Nakshatras

In this special four-hour video course, Dr David Frawley examine the Nakshatras starting from their ancient Vedic roots, exploring their qualities, energies, spiritual powers and deities, including much material not available in existing texts. It will also correlate the meanings of the Nakshatras with the constellations and fixed stars.