OFF THE MAT YOGA: 5 WAYS TO LIVE MORE CONSCIOUSLY
So much of the practice of yoga is about connecting to yourself. How can you become a more satisfied person who lives in harmony with your community and your world? There is no “Mission Accomplished” with these ideas. These are no small undertakings.
Each year I try to embody one aspect of yoga and bring it off the mat. It’s my mantra for the year, if you will. Last year was “Year of Body Confidence” and PBYP was perfect for helping me work toward that goal. While I am still overweight and, sometimes, my winter waist prevents me from wearing my summer skirts, I am a more confident person than I was two years ago. This year, my mantra is “Year of Conscious Living.
I’ve made a point this year to explore new places and things. I don’t think these have to be grand adventures, but little opportunities to try something new and broaden my horizons. I bought a Middle Eastern cookbook and made Turkish food at home for the first time, which is pretty awesome for an Irish/Italian/American girl. My favorites so far have been cacik and lamb meatballs with tomato stew over rice. I tried two new yoga studios and I loved them both. My husband and I went to Ireland and explored a new country, together. All of these explorations have challenged my thinking and forced me to look at the world from new perspectives and tastes. (Side note: eating a new food is such an interesting way to take on a new perspective!)
Buy less “stuff”.
We moved three times last year and, we all know, moving is the worst. However, moving also helps you realize what you have and what you do not need. I downsized my closet, bookshelf, movies and knickknacks that I had been dragging with me from apartment to apartment. I donated it all to charity or used an app that connects me to my neighbors to give, or trade, “stuff” with neighbors. Americans waste so much each year and if I can be a little part of a solution, then I have made a differnece.
From clothes to beauty products to food, I have used this year to educate myself on how things are made. I am trying to only shop at locally owned stores and to buy products that are either made in the USA (ensuring they pay and treat their workers well and that goods do not have to ship across oceans) or are transparent about where and how their products are made. Companies like Pact and Everlane are not made in the US, but they are transparent about who makes their clothes and the conditions in which they work. I also don’t buy any beauty products that are tested on animals, usually it’s easiest to look for the Vegan symbol or the cruelty free rabbit symbol. Doing this helps me feel like I am not taking advantage of people, usually women and children, around the world who are forced to work in less-than-ideal conditions.
I started composting this year and it’s awesome! My husband and I have significantly cut down on the garbage we throw away and a local company picks up and drops off new compost buckets for us every two weeks. Living in the city, I thought it would be really daunting, but it’s not and I only wish I had done it sooner. It has really opened my eyes to the volume of food waste I throw away each week.
To me, challenge is different than exploration. Exploration opens my eyes to new things, but isn’t overwhelming. Challenge can be overwhelming, but, this year, I am trying to embrace that feeling. I signed up for Yoga Teacher Training this summer and accepted a Fellowship at a local university to help me teach writing to my students better. I also started to blog for Bad Yogi! All of these things are significantly out of my comfort zone, but if I want to consciously live, I have to feel alive and challenge, for better or worse, makes us feel.
So, here’s to my “Year of Conscious Living” and my attempt to bring those feelings of harmony, acceptance, and universality into my life and off my mat. What do you do to live a more conscious life?