By Candice Habershon, Yoga teacher in SE London, @candicehabershonyoga
As consumers, we have a choice about what we spend our money on. Every time we buy something, we are saying, “I value this, or I support this” which is why it’s so important to shop ethically and sustainably.
To do so is actually a very yogic thing.
In yoga, we learn to practice ahimsa, which means non-harming – and this relates to ourselves, others and also to the earth. To shop according to our values, we need to consider who is making our clothes, how those people are treated, what materials they are using and whether they are harming the earth in the process.
Thankfully, as Gather&See shoppers, you are already practicing ahimsa in your fashion choices. Go you! But how else can you bring this yama – one of the eight limbs of yoga – into your life and your yoga practice?
Ahimsa is considered to be the most important of the five yamas – or restraints - because it represents the right attitude necessary to lead a moral life. As yogis, we have a special responsibility to uphold harmlessness in all our thoughts, words and actions.
Practicing ahimsa is not easy. It means not retaliating when someone insults you. It means being kind to others, always. But, probably the hardest part, it also means being kind to ourselves. In a world where we have the ability to connect to thousands of people with a simple click on our phones, refraining from negative thoughts can be challenging.
How many times today have you compared yourself to the skinny girl ordering a coffee before you? Or felt a pang of jealousy when a friend posted a picture of themselves on some fabulous holiday on Instagram? Those thoughts are actually harmful to you. They’re making you feel bad.
But fear not! A regular yoga practice can help develop this attitude of non-harming. Yoga calms the mind and increases self-awareness. When you’re next on the yoga mat, think about how you can practice with ahimsa. Notice if any of the asanas – or poses – are not serving you that day and don’t do them. Check in – are you tired? Come to child’s pose. By respecting your boundaries and listening to your body, the practice becomes sustainable and a way to learn about yourself. Let go of what you think your practice look like, and relax into how it makes you feel.
Meditation and yoga (which is in fact a moving meditation), help us to stop the negative chatter in our minds and bring us back to the present moment. Ever had that “yoga glow” at the end of a yoga practice? The stretching you’ve done has caused the body to release dopamine, the “feel-good” chemical. Studies have shown that the same chemical is released when we are able to think happy, non-harmful thoughts. This strengthens the immune system and has the power to fight illness.
It’s a win-win.
Cultivating ahimsa in your yoga practice, in your thoughts and, yes in your shopping choices will bring compassion, purity of thoughts, love for yourself and others and ultimately peace of mind.
Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habit.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny