This month at Unfold, the yoga therapy studio I teach at here in Portland our theme is tapas. Tapas is Sanskrit for the trifecta of heat, discipline and passion. When I think of tapas now, I think specifically about the tapas of self-care. For me, right now, tapas looks a lot different than it looked a few months ago. Now, tapas looks a lot less like one hundred chatarangas and a lot more like prioritizing physical therapy and doctor’s appointments above all else.
Self-care in and of itself is radical because it forces us to pause. Pausing is against most social norms (especially if you’re a born-and-raised New Yorker) and it holds us accountable for how we are of service to others. My excuse for not taking care of myself in the past was that I had to be of greater service – show up for other people before I could show up for myself. Going to PT first thing in the morning and bearing witness to students that tend to their yoga practice at sunrise during the 7:30am classes I teach reinforces a deep-down knowledge that too few of us access: self-care enables us to be of service, not the other way around. And if we do it right and truly gauge the kind and amount of discipline or heat we need in any given moment the tapas of self-care sets us up to be radical givers of care in the rest of our day.