Yoga in Action: Repect for the Earth

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Happy Earth Day!

Part of our practice as a modern yogis is practicing compassion and a mindful approach to living. This is a constant challenge in a world of fast-paced technology, instant gratification and the constant desire for bigger, better and more. It is a major challenge too, to offer the same practices to the earth as we would to say, another person.

At times, I feel like my mind belongs to someone else with the way it grasps at material things. I mean, really? After all this work of non-attachment and I still haul an entire u-haul around every time I move?

But, it's all just practice in the end. And in my opinion, yogis should be at the forefront of practice when it comes to respect for the earth. Treading lightly on this planet comes naturally to those who practice such deep respect for their own bodies and minds.

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Here are some of the simple things that we can do to balance modern life with a yogic life:

  • Garden your own veggies.
    This is typically super simple and very rewarding, giving you the chance to nurture your future food as you would nurture your yoga practice. Also gives you the chance to be outside and connect with life. For an extra earth-friendly approach, collect rainwater to use on the garden, rather than relying on the hose.

  • Get an eco-friendly yoga mat.
    They are a little more expensive, but typically last longer. The eco yoga mat that I am currently using is from Yogasana. It's made of cotton and woven in India. They have great bright colors and a strong texture to help you connect to your hands and feet.

  • Buy secondhand yoga clothes.
    For those of you who know me, you know that I buy pretty much everything secondhand. I find SO many yoga clothes this way. Expensive brands that people have donated after just a couple of wears. 

  • Stop buying bottled drinks.
    Get a filter for your water. Make your own kombucha (I do this and it's super simple). Make a huge pot of ginger tea, bottle it and keep it in the fridge for when you crave a sweet drink.

  • Buy local/organic food.
    I know this one seems like a no-brainer. But it can be a hard leap to take when the expense is considered. Once you dive in, you'll never go back. Organic food is better for you and better for the earth. You can get a CSA box from a local farm on the cheap. Usually they are organic and have lots of interesting new things for to try. Also, it's just about farmer's market time for most places. This makes it easy to do local eggs and meat as well.

  • Turn off lights, use the heat/air conditioning within reason
    Duh, right? Not so. Our idea of comfort is way out of wack in my opinion. If it were up to me, we'd turn on the air-conditioning two weeks out of the year in July/August when it's unbearable.

  • Bike/walk/run/skip/scoot/ride the bus
    Cars are bad news. I drive a car. Often. But in a perfect world, I would not. I would walk and ride my bike. This is one for my own personal work.

  • Bring your own tupperware for leftovers
    As a server, I see so much waste go out the door in the form of to-go containers. This one is particularly easy. Just keep a couple in your car and grab em before you go in to eat.

Got any other ideas? Tell me what they are, and I'll include them!

  • Use a Mooncup/Gladrags for your moon cycle, ladies. 
    Thanks to my friend Lacey for reminding me about this one. Rather than create extra waste from tampons or pads, I use a Mooncup. It saves money, lasts for 10 years and isn't putting any harmful chemicals into my body. 

Finding Contentment in the Chaos

India can be an extremely frustrating place. It's hot. It's really chaotic. Indians swarm you to offer you rides in their rickshaw, necklaces, directional advice, etc. It's loud as can be—horns, music, traffic. It's dirty.

Last year, everything about being in India was novel for me. I drank it all in. I enjoyed every experience, even those that were loud, chaotic and dirty. I was just so happy to be here that I even found joy in the painful and frustrating times. This year, things feel different. I feel annoyed by Indians and chaos. I can't help it. I don't want to be annoyed. I want to live in the present and appreciate the fact that I'm in INDIA for crying out loud!! But something keeps rising up in me. And it doesn't feel like joy. It feels like suffering.

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It feels a lot like when I was a teenager. I don't know what you were like when you were teen-aged, but I was angry. All the time. Anything and everything could upset me. And did. And not only was I angry, I was anxious to be out of whatever situation I was currently in. I believe I could characterize it as a constant state of non-contentment. Unless something was a completely novel situation, I was instantly bored and looking to move on.

This approach to life has (luckily) abated with time. I think part of it is maturing and recognizing that not every situation has to be completely enriching and fabulous. And (I would like to think) that most of my new life approach is due to my work on the mat/cushion. I've slowed down. I've learned to appreciate small details and things that we generally perceive as "mundane." 

So much sweetness in the simplicity

So much sweetness in the simplicity

I think a lot of this appreciation has developed out of my asana practice. Coming to the mat daily and doing the same poses hundreds and then thousands of times can really put into perspective one's ability to find something new in a repeat situation. And no matter how many times I do trikonasana, I can still find some new sensation and some amount of joy to just "be in it." This is how I should approach every repeat situation. What about this can I find to appreciate? Even if my brain/body is telling me not to feel content?

So, this second trip to India has been one of lesson learning for me. It's fascinating to watch myself move through this incredible country for a second time. To see my reaction to India when it's no longer novel for me. It's amusing to be present with my anger, however silly it seems. It's great for me to have the insight to even realize that I'm experiencing non-contentment and then see what I can do about it.

There is nothing like taking yourself out of your comfort zone to put your work to the test. Looks like I better keep on getting back on the mat/cushion upon my return.

Yoga in Action: Giving Thanks

Here comes the trite holiday post.

Actually, I quite like holidays. You get to eat as much as you want. Drink as much as you want. Hang out with your family (luckily, mine happens to be awesome, though I know that's not always the case), play cards, have awkward conversations and probably go see a really good movie.

What I don't like about holidays is that they try to force you to feel something. Now, I can easily border on the cynical side of things when it comes to "crap that is mass-marketed to the American people." I don't like that we have a day to tell someone how much we love them, or a day to be really nice to our mom, or even a day to celebrate our freedom. Shouldn't we be doing those things every day?

I think it's easy to get caught up in middle-class white kid problems. At least for me, as a middle-class white kid. We are easily led to feel that the world is crashing down around us if we have to wait in line for 10 minutes, get into a minor car accident, don't have a boyfriend/girlfriend, our computer crashes, etc. With little regard for the way a lot of people live (in poverty, in slums, hungry, oppressed) we can get completely caught up in our overly dramatic tales of woe.

Through a regular practice of yoga, we can begin to develop an appreciation for life and the things that we take for granted. I talked about this a lot in my last post. You can read it here:

Everyday Yoga

In my opinion, we should be thankful for our blessings every single day of the year. One way to put this into action is to list 5 things that you're grateful for as you are falling asleep. It's pretty easy. They don't have to be profound. They don't even have to be big things.

Here's 5 off the top of my head: running water, organic vegetables, family, 3-legged cats, Austin, TX.

3-legged cat!

3-legged cat!

And as I think of the things on my list for which I am grateful, I try to feel, just for a moment, how I connect with those things in my day-to-day life. And maybe how my life would be different without them. A teeny tiny practice which can bring you back to the bounty of life.