12.29.2008

Counteracting Consumerism: We don't need no Stimulation

Ah, the economy. What is "the economy" anyway? It is certainly not economical in nature. Our country has spent a chunk of money that we did not have and now we are going to quantitatively ease billions more into print, theoretically fighting deflation and probably lighting the match under inflation, although when it will ignite is unknown. Personally, I'm up to here with economic stimulation. I think most of us need a rest and they're going to force us to charge back out and spend more! Let's consider a new idea, producerism. Create more than we take!

What led to our current problems? Pretty much a lot of people buying things that they couldn't afford. Some shady CEOs el al took it from there. Things we didn't need. Cavernous houses, shiny new cars, stuff, matter, atoms and now some people are losing jobs so the things that aren't paid for become an even steeper and more costly burden. It's stressful to have too much, whether it's someone handing you a huge plate of food, too many gifts over the holidays, so many items to sort and place and clean and try to use. How can we get out of this cycle? We didn't enter in consciously, we were born into it. But to exit this pattern, we will have to be very conscious and proactive.

Yoga can help us let go of our consumerism by sharing with us the yamas and niyamas, the first two of eight limbs within the yoga philosophy. Particularly, aparigraha and satya will remind us of what we need to gain the strength to stand strong against the cultural drive to buy buy buy. Aparigraha can also be called non-possessiveness and is about letting go of greed, and taking only what is necessary. This might mean we chose to live in an apartment for now, or purchase a used car that will get good mileage, or maybe drive our current car until it honestly won't go anymore. This means we will have to resist the urge to give in to another cultural pressure, conspicuous consumption, aka keeping up with the Joneses. Satya can help us by highlighting truthfulness within ourselves. We must ask what really makes us happy at the end of each day. When we honestly answer, the breathless rush to acquire will be stilled .

I am not saying this is easy. I am not saying we can always attain it. This is years of ingrained pressure from tv, billboards, and people around us. However, I am making an effort to consider what I have and what I really need, and working to give away what I do not need. Here are a few ideas to try. If you already do these, see if you can make it better, or more frequent.

  • Consider having an exchange with friends. Bring any items you don't want or need any more (clothes, books, gifts you could not use) and see who might have a real need for it. At the end, box everything up and take it to a place where it will be used, salvation army or to a school in a poor area, they will find someone that needs it, trust me. There is so much need in these places that it can knock you over if you don't steel yourself. A lot of the need isn't even material. Think about giving your time to someone, friend, family, or stranger.

  • Recycle. Have two trash cans so it just flows easily. Make a list of what can be recycled and take a little time to make sure the system you create works and is manageable. Make a visit to the recycling center something enjoyable, go with a friend and have coffee after. Allow yourself to feel so good about letting go, just as our culture makes us feel good when we bring home bags of something new.

  • Sort mail and cancel any magazines you don't really buy from. Usually you can just email them to remove you from the list. Make a stack of 10 and it will take you 10 minutes. Think of all the recycling you won't have to do later!!

If you have any other ideas, please, comment here. Here's resolving to practice aparigraha and satya in 2009. Please practice these New Year's Eve too, and I will see you for yoga soon :) Thank you for being open to "producerism". May we all create rather than consume in the coming year!

Namaste,
Kat

12.24.2008

Finding Home Wherever you Are!

Many people head home around the holidays. It turns out that his word has many meanings, and that is an understatement! On dictionary.com (click to read them all), there are 31 different definitions or relationships. And just as complex is the experience of returning home. For some of us this trek is a common thing, for others it might be yearly or less. And others may even go to a new place, to be with those important to them and creating home there. No matter how often or where we go, going home can bring us into connection with our past, those things that have shaped us, old roles and expectations that might or might not fit with who we are right now. This can be a very positive thing and may also be a difficult experience at times.

Yoga teaches us to seek and find the present moment and so as we go home, we might be faced with how the present and past get along. If we can allow ourselves to be who we are today, we are able to stay true to our yoga frame of mind. In fact, actually doing some asanas daily (poses) may aid in finding this capacity within ourselves and allow us to relax and shake away from falling into the past. While the old memories can be wonderful, nostalgia may not be and so grounding ourselves in the "right now" will aid in making each journey home a new and fresh delight. Consider sharing what is new and present in your life, and also listening to the present experiences of your loves ones. In addition, as we look forward to a New Year, we will be able to find ourselves happy and at peace, balanced and prepared, yet taking all things as them come.

Namaste,
Kat

12.14.2008

Yin Yoga

We have all seen that funky little black and white symbol. I sometimes imagine two whales circling, a balanced swirl, a hippie anthem on par with tie-die. However, we can also ask, what is the meaning behind this ancient Chinese concept, and how can we incorporate these ideas into yoga and our lives? Today we will consider the yin side, and leave the yang half for a toastier moment.

According to Wikipedia, (see link here yin yang):

"Yin is usually characterized as slow, soft, insubstantial, diffuse, cold, wet, and tranquil. It is generally associated with the feminine, birth and generation, and with the night."

In terms of the seasons, this appears to relate to the winter facet of life. Ice, rain, sleet, snow, shortened dark days, quiet long nights. Maybe a strong full moon allowing white glittering glows to shine in through the frosty window.

How then can yin relate to our yoga practice? I believe we can consciously welcome yin, related to our path in yoga. One might easily wonder how long it takes to do yoga right, or really find a pose. The truth is, a pose can always be right and found. This occurs when we are able to embrace the tranquility or yin of our current experience of a pose, rather than pushing on to anything else. Change does come in yoga and of course we allow ourselves this path as well, but it will happen gradually, and at times almost imperceptibly. While we may seek strength, warmth, energy, and growth, it is also okay to move slowly and softly.

So, whether you love Restoration and Gentle yoga, or Ashtanga Bikram Power moments, perhaps give the other side a chance to submerge in your practice, and you may notice that both together actually fit, like a key in a lock or a loving hug.

Namaste,
Kat

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