Yoga is an opportunity for self-reflection. Self-reflection means purposefully paying attention to your thoughts, emotions, decisions, and behaviors. It enables us to make meaning of all of the great and not so great experiences we’ve had in our lives.
Just like a yoga pose, self-reflection is challenging and requires us to be open and honest with ourselves.
When we, as yogis, are unwilling to self-reflect, we project. We project those things that we are reluctant to turn inward, sit with, and change.
Change Is Hard
Change is hard but change is a necessary and pivotal part of life. When I think about all the different ways to discuss or even label change, several ideas come to mind: growth, transformation, letting go, and acceptance. All of these things require us to go within ourselves and do some sort of work–some kind of self-reflection. You can’t grow from your experiences if you don’t understand them. Once you understand the why behind your decision-making, you can make changes based on what you’ve learned.
I spent a big part of my life projecting so that I wouldn’t have to deal with my core issues. Everything was everyone else’s fault. Everything that was happening to me, around me, and within me, was always the result of someone else–at least in my mind. It was a defense mechanism to protect and preserve the only thing I knew and the only thought process and outlook that I was comfortable with accepting.
How Yoga Forced Me to Dig Deep
When yoga came into my life, it was both liberating and frustrating. Yoga gave me the freedom to feel but it also forced me to see myself for who I was. I had to look at what I was doing instead of pushing the blame onto others. I had to take a real look at myself and the real reasons behind my actions.
I say to my students each day that yoga is a mirror reflection for our everyday life and that reflection is available for us to see when we finally decide to see it. I will be the first to attest that the reflection will not always be quaint and pretty. It will most likely be uncomfortable and even sad at times. However, that is how growth happens.
Growth happens when we let go of our expectations on people, situations, and life. Letting go of our expectations does not mean that we no longer hope or desire anything from life anymore. Rather, it means that we come at our life (our mat) in a way that opens the doors rather than lingering in the doorway, just waiting for it to close or prove others are wrong.
Merriam-Webster defines compost as “a mixture that consists largely of decayed organic matter.” Compost is used for fertilizing and conditioning land. Your compost is a mixture of your stuff, your baggage, your mindsets, your hang-ups, your habits, and your ego. When you practice self-reflection, you take your compost and use it to fertilize your life and the conditions of others. You take the mixture of your life, your actions, and your situation, and you compost it.
My yoga practice has taught me a lot about my compost and digging dip into my own “mixture.” It has allowed me to get real with myself. Moreover, once you are genuinely able to see the mess you are in, only then can you begin to transform.
When things don’t go my way or are not to my liking, I first ask–Why? I then take a step back to reflect so that I can see how much of my compost is altering my experience. Coming from a place where I took everything personal in my life, once I realized how my compost was affecting what I was doing, I was better equipped to let others off the hook for my shortcomings. Seldom is it ever really about others but rather how we received those experiences and how they reflect upon us.
Don’t Give Up
I urge you to keep coming to your mat, keep getting uncomfortable, and keep taking classes and stepping into poses that ruffle your feathers. Resist the urge to roll up your mat those five minutes early in the hopes of avoiding discomfort. Instead, sit in those poses as your mind stews–allowing your mind to sift through your thoughts, emotions, and reactions to truly get to the bottom of why you feel the way you do.
From my heart to yours, from my soul to yours, from my compost to yours, and from my mat to yours, Namaste.
Respecting our planet and protecting the environment is something everyone can get behind. Regardless of when Earth Day is, each day we need to make the decision to respect our planet. Here are twenty ways you can reduce your carbon footprint, starting today!
1. Shop in the bulk section with your own produce bags.
If your grocery store offers a bulk section, this is a great way to reduce your consumption of single-use plastics. Try bringing your own bulk bags so you can skip the plastic variety that the grocery offers. Plastic bags are typically not recyclable and are incinerated to their final end. When you shop, start in the bulk section first with your own bags. See how much of your grocery list you can knock out without purchasing any packaging! Then move to the produce section, and see what you can find without plastic. Bringing your own bags goes a long way!
2. Bring your reusable grocery bags to the store, store them in your car.
Leave your grocery bags in your car! Make a habit of putting your grocery list in the bags when you get in the car, or move them to the front seat so that you don’t forget to take them with you. However you ritualize this, I promise you CAN make it a habit. Plastic bags only serve a purpose for a matter of minutes, before they are thrown out. Due to their aerodynamic features, they often get caught in the wind and blow out of waste bins and landfills, sending them straight to the oceans or the sides of our roads. Help eliminate them from your habits!
3. Carry your water bottle & mug with you everywhere.
Water is so good for you – you should be sipping on it all day.
4. Compost your food scraps.
There are so many different types of composting – whether you are in an apartment or live on several acres of land, there is a composting solution for you. When food is thrown out in plastic bags, it produces methane gas, which is really toxic. By allowing it to decompose with proper aeration, that food can be turned into something productive for your garden!
5. Shop Secondhand.
Regularly check your local thrift stores. You can find some great deals on gently loved products that are ready for a new life. Fashion causes a lot of waste throughout its supply chain – rock the vintage look instead, or choose to support small businesses.
6. Repair items you have that are broken.
Don’t let your first instinct be to throw it away. Just because money might not be an issue or it only costs $ to replace, you may be able to get more life out of the same product by repairing it. You’ll find that you can find uses for old things you never used to use or find ways to get something repaired instead of buying a replacement.
7. Reduce your meat consumption.
Plants, fruits, and vegetables have a lower carbon footprint when it comes to their agricultural production. You may find several benefits to your health from adding more plants and plant-based foods to your rotation. Try doing Meatless Mondays for a month with your family. Then maybe try some new vegan recipes.
8. Walk, bike, or carpool.
Get some exercise and some fresh air! If you live local and the weather is nice, take a walk outside. Don’t be in a hurry all the time. You can find enjoyment in the daily tasks of life if you carve out self-reflection time within them. Going for a walk is a great way to get in meditation time.
9. Hang dry your clothes.
Driers on high heat settings can be energy-intensive. If you have a clothesline, hang your clothes outside, or look for a drying rack. You might be able to find one at your local thrift store.
10. Avoid purchasing products wrapped in plastic.
If possible, look for products without plastic packaging. Find the veggies in store that aren’t pre-cut, but instead you can put in your own cloth bag that you brought. If your store has a bulk food section, take your bags there and fill them with many of your pantry staples.
11. Learn how to sew.
If you can repair minor damage to your clothing items, you can prevent those from becoming major damage! Learning how to sew can give you a multitude of DIY projects that you can do with scrap clothing or fabrics.
12. Volunteer (do a trash pick-up!).
Pick one weekend a month to do a trash pick-up with your family in your neighborhood. Invite your neighbors and their children, and their friends. Get everyone involved in keeping the community clean.
13. Ask for “no straw” when you order a drink.
Make it a habit to ask for your drink, with “no straw.”
14. Bring your own utensils to avoid using plastic ones.
You can purchase travel kits with utensil sets to keep in your bag. That way when you are on the go, you can avoid using plastic utensils for takeout food.
15. Use plastic-free cleaners (like Dropps or Blueland).
There are companies that make cleaning products in refillable, or plastic-free containers! Search for plastic-free options on the internet!
16. Donate unwanted newspaper & old towels to your local animal shelter.
Animal shelters use newspaper and old towels to line kennels and are in constant need. Consider donating old blankets, animal food, newspapers, or towels to your local shelter.
17. Purchase Carbon Offsets
If you have to travel a lot via airplane for work, you may feel some guilt at the carbon emissions from a plane flight. There are companies that allow you to easily calculate and purchase carbon offsets, which protect natural land in exact offsets to the pollution caused by your travel.
18. Stop buying things! Love what you have.
19. Plant a Tree or Garden with Flowers
Bees love flowers. giving them more options for pollinations helps out the bee and honey farmers. Support your local bee population by planting floral gardens with high nectar flow plants.
20. Teach a friend what you learned.
We are all in this together. If we want to see our planet improved, we all have to be in it together!