Austerity refers to a disciplined spiritual practice, or sadhana, that purifies the body and mind of anything that prevents or blocks connection with the higher Self, or God. Austerities are not so much a practice of denying oneself, but of removing obstacles that are preventing the yogi from growing spiritually. The self-denial of austerities, therefore, ultimately enriches the yogi’s life.

In Patanjali’s eight-limbed path of yoga, austerities are one of the niyamas known as tapas, a word often translated as “austerity” or “discipline.”

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