Penance; austerity. It is the third of the niyamas (moral disciplines) in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The Sanskrit word tapas comes from the root tap, meaning “to burn,” “to blaze,” or “to consume in heat.” It represents the heat of determination, the inner fire of austerity that should be cultivated on the spiritual path. It also indicates that we should burn all desires and obstacles that stand in the way of Realization. Tapas is often used to mean “self-control” or “cultivation of willpower.” However, in reality, tapas is more than just the cultivation of willpower. It is a commitment to develop and purify the will to the extent that it can take us deeper in our spiritual practice. Read more about the niyama here.