How do we navigate the modern world while striving to practice our yogic principles? The asana, or movement part, no sweat. Many of us have that down. The yamas (ethical observances) and the niyamas (lifestyle practices), on the other hand, can be a bit elusive, especially with so many choices for consumption. How can we practice more deeply these two essential limbs of yoga in our interconnected and entangled world?
It can become overwhelming to attempt to buy things that are in alignment with our core yogic principles, particularly when we start to consider how our purchases effect the environment, labor conditions, animal rights, the political sphere and more. I wish it was as simple as just buying that t-shirt, soap, chocolate, or pair of yoga pants. Unfortunately, it’s not. We are global citizens—whether we like it or not—and can choose with awareness or turn a blind eye.
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So, how do we become empowered consumers without being overwhelmed by all the effects our choices? Must we research everything we buy? This could take hours and we might not get anywhere. For many of us, buying things can be a bit of a process, and many times with great sacrifice.
How the Yamas and Niyamas Play Into Our Consumerism
Let’s take a look at how the yamas and niyamas are woven in and out of our consumer lives:
Ah, yes. Were any animals harmed in the making of this product? What about the environment impact? Were things made in a clean way? Is it made with toxic ingredients?
How do we engage more fully with our truth? How can we step deeper into the awareness of ourselves, our planet and our values? It can be easy to talk truth, but living it is hard because there is so much hidden behind the veil.
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In many ways this is an easy one. Don’t take what’s not mine without paying for it. Got it. Well, sometimes without even knowing it, our purchases can take from other people’s well-being, the Earth’s natural resources and the health of our bodies.
Another tough one considering there are so many cool things out there. I certainly feel the dopamine rush after a buy. Does it really make me feel better? Do I really need another…?
By considering deeply how my stuff affects me and others, I have become pickier and a bit more minimal. Fewer things that mean more make me feel great. Now, what can I donate?
So many things that we put into or on our bodies can be loaded with toxins. Which ones do we buy? How do we know if this lotion is toxic, this detergent has chemicals or if these bed sheets are synthetic?
If we really want to pursue this heat generating niyama, we may need to buckle down and get serious; becoming informed takes diligence. Changing when things don’t match up can be even tougher, especially when it is a brand we love. We are disciples to our things and it can be challenging to live by our yogic principles.
By checking out our stuff we can learn about ourselves, what we stand for, and how we are practicing our beliefs. It can be as simple as opening the closet to get a closer look at what’s going on internally. Our external environment is a reflection of our inner landscape.
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Isvara Pranidhana: Connection to Spirit.
By slowing down and centering we can sink deeply into what is meaningful and how to manifest it. This means deciding what has value and then expressing it. What is our authentic expression of spirit? How do we act accordingly?
These principles are a lot to consider, especially since we have so many options. Lucky for us, we can arm ourselves with the power of technology to make fast choices by quickly scanning or searching.
The following four smart phone applications can help you navigate the consumer landscape and live as an authentic, enthusiastic yogi. I’ve found they help bolster and support the contentment (santosha) in my life, too.
4 Best Shopping Apps for Yogis
“Vote With Your Wallet” is their tagline. Our monetary choices support companies, which may or may not have our values in mind. Certain companies that we may love could have very different political or environmental practices. Giving them money supports their agenda, not necessarily ours. This app allows us to choose which campaigns we support (and which we don’t) and then see how our products match up. Animal testing, social justice, environmental sensitivity and political agendas are just a few of the app’s categories.
2. Good On You
I’ve been a bit “cranky pants” about yoga pants lately. I do like the way they feel, look, and perform—but I’m not so keen on some of the byproducts of the gear. This app has helped me align my values with not only yoga clothing, but clothing in general. I can see how my attire impacts the environment, labor conditions, and animal rights.
3. Healthy Living
This app is developed by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Their mission: “to empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment.” At one time this app was known as Skindeep and focused solely on cosmetics. Now, it is wider in scope, showing us how what we put on or in our bodies can impact our health. It evaluates the toxic load for each of the ingredients and is thorough and empowering.
4. Think Dirty
Think Dirty does the thinking for us by quickly showing the toxic load for everything from toothpaste to eyeliner, baby products to shampoo, cosmetics to laundry detergent. Purity for our bodies doesn’t always mean cleansing; it could simply mean not covering ourselves with toxic ingredients.
About our author
Julian DeVoe is a founding member of the Yoga Collective Nosara, a wellness educator, and author of Robust Vitality and Insights Out. Learn more at juliandevoe.com.