December 16, 2011

paleo and your yogic vows

So what are these yamas and niyamas yogi’s talk about? yogic vows?

Well in hatha (ha-ta) yoga there are eight “branches” of dicapline. The Yamas  and the Niyamas are two of these. The Yamas are more of a social discipline, and the Niyamas more of an individualist discipline. You can find them in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras (200CE.) Having empathy and consideration is pretty important in this area.

Ahimsa – most typically translated as non-violence. I like to view it as causing as little harm as possible in every aspect of life, whether to others or yourself. Or, having compassion for all living and non living things. This extends to the environment also.
Satya – most typically translated as speaking the truth. I view it as open and honest, yet kinda and appropiate, communication. It is easy to see how this vow could come into conflict with ahimsa, how can one speak the truth if it will cause pain to another? Well this were where you use some honest judgement. We are human, we have conflicts, chose the road of most good.
Asteya – Most typically translated as non-stealing. My view: take only what is appropriately yours and do not take more than necessary, or take something which will take from others. Ok, maybe a little confusing, but basically not just material things. Obviously we don’t want to take someone elses possessions, but also not taking their time, ie being late, taking all the flowers from the garden – maybe someone else would enjoy them- taking advantage of someone elses trust etc.
Brahmacharya – most people think of this as sexual restrait, which is where we get all those celibate monks and yogis from. I view this as just sense control in general. Not using your sexual energy for anything but love, but also not using your energy in general for anything unesssesary. Like talking for no reason with no purpose. Flirting to get what you want.  So we don’t want to use our energy to cause harm, rather move toward our spiritual goals.
Aparigraha - Most typically translated as non-hoarding, or refraining from being greedy. I take this as letting go of being attached to things, and also making sure the wealth is spread. Many people become minimalist because of this vow. Not me, I have tons of shit, im just not attached to it, give it freely, and don’t have anything that isn’t “rightfully” earned.  This is quite easy when one realizes impermanence, and that life will always give you what you need. Which will be god if you have been planting good seeds.

Sauca: simple, cleanliness. But this is cleanliness and purity not only of our physical selves and environment, but of our inner selves. Keeping a clean mind, free from clutter, keeping a healthy body void of disease. Don’t show up to your yoga class smelling like cat butt. Don’t eat things that will add crap to your system.

Santosa – ohh one of my favs. Most typically translated as contentment. Being happy with what we have, not constantly desiring something more. Basically knowing that the situation we are in is perfect how it is, or else it would be different.  If you can do something about it, then do it. But if you cant, then stop worrying, because it’s not going to make it change. Craving only causes suffering, and that’s not good. Accept your situation. Everything happens for a reason, or else it wouldn’t be happening.

Tapas – discipline. Many view it as creating an inner fire, which is easy to do with a disciplined practice of asana (postures in yoga.) However, it can also be created in so many other ways. Like, refraining from eating that soy chocolate because you know it is bad for your body and bad for then environment, not giving your vote to that company, even though you really really want it. Not giving into egoic cravings

Svadhyaya - Most typically translated as self study. Some say more specifiacally spiritual self study, inquiry, or education on scriptures. I look at it as learning things for yourself, and constantly. Becoming self reflective, able to see the world as your mirror, not talking everything at it’s word but doing your own examination. Using your emotions to guide you and not control you.
And now…how they apply to paleo!

how they merge with paleo vows
Ahimsa: Ok this is a biggie. This was the janga block that troppled my vegan fortress. Once I made the realization that local was so much better for the planet, I couldn’t turn my back on it. There was no way to hide the truth. There is a huge emphasis on eating local and seasonal when you are truly following a paleo lifestyle, including foraging your own greens, or atleast growing a few veggies. Buying local supports sustainable practices, even if they are not 100% organic, I bet they don’t have a huge mono-crop of lettuce in their backyard. It supports humane treatmeant of the animals, especially if they are pastured raised like they should be. This supports soil building and the health of the planet. Unlike factory farms and mono-crop productions the methane and petroleum is not going to cause global warming (if you even believe in that.) Buying local meat supports the community because your money is staying in the hands of your neighbors, helping them to feed their family also. Most local farmers are not it in for the big bucks either; all the farms I have visited are doing it because they are true stewards of the land.  Also, think of all the packaging material you are saving from buying local, and packaging is a product of petroleum. Also, by not using those gas sucking freight trucks, you are also cutting back on energy use (a whole other story.)
Also, nutritionally it is much better for you because it is weeks fresher. Plants start losing nutrients pretty quickly after picked, and usually the veggies in stores are pick before they are ripe, then stored, then gases to make them get ripe. So they never even reached their full potential, poor plants. Also, local farmers typically have richer soil, where as mono-crop soils are depleted of minerals like magnesium, which means you are depleted of magnesium. And local cuts back on processed, sugar rich foods, forcing you to make the whole food, health choice, while breaking out of your food box and trying new things.
Are stomach are made for certain foods, most people cannot thrive on a veggitarian. You start getting sick from deficiencies. And this is causing harm to yourself. That’s a no-no. you can’t be a bodhisattva if you aren’t breathing….

So recap: Less carbon footprint, less chemicals, less packaging, more community support and less big business, less commodification of food, more land stewardship, more nutritious…

Plus, being vegan it is almost impossible to get your protein local unless you are growing massive amounts of hemps seeds which in most states is illegal, or eating grass like a cow…which we don’t even have the stomachs to digest anyways.

Satya: now that you know the path of least harm, you have to walk the walk. You cant lie to yourself by ignoring the facts and buying that packaged tofurkey even though you know the local turkey is better for the planet. Oh and let me be honest for a second, just because you’re eating veggies doesn’t mean they didn’t involve blood.  Someone or something was out their killing the pest, usuing pesticides. The land that was destroyed to grow corn in an area that corn isn’t ecolocically made to growis wiping out habitates and killing many animals. So just because you don’t have blood on your hands when you buy something wrapped in plasic, don’t mean it isn’t covered in death. Death is a part of life, period. Embrace it. You will die one day also. Deal with it. Lay in savasana and think about it. If you act like the king, and let others fight your battles for you, it just makes you a liar AND responsible for the death of many. Ok so this one gets a little mixed in with ahimsa, but hey….where does one thing and and the other begin?

Asteya: buying produce out of season is like stealing from the land. Buying factory farmed, barn raised anything is stealing life. Even buying non-sustainable cacao products is stealing the life of all those child slaves working to give you chcoclate candy. Buying soy beans and wheat is stealing the lifes of the farmers in india tangled in mansantos web, literally, so mnay have commitedd suicide because they are stuck in debt. Look it up, I did. Monocrops produced in developing nations are taking land away from the people. Bottled water is stealing resources from somewhere else, pushing locals who depend on the river to die of drought. Bottled water companies dam rivers, stealing from the animals and the natural way of things.  I really culd go on, but you get the point.
Brahmacharaya: ok, so use your energy for the most good. Put it back into the community, support your neighbors with it, support humanely raised creature practices, support soil building rather than erosion.

Aparigraha: packaged products is kinda like hoarding. Those strawberries produced in massive greenhouse cities in spain, shipped to your grocery store, is a reflection of greed. The greed to get what we want always. Hey practice tapas, wait out the urge to endulged in them until they are in season. It makes it look forward to july everywhere…fig season!