I have been thinking a lot recently about why I first started this blog. My mission was to talk about things that inspire me that are related to sustainable design and the yoga lifestyle. Much has been written about the fact that Yoga is trend that is now beyond a trend. Apparently more than 30 million people practice yoga in the US alone and there are over 70,000 yoga teachers in North America and counting.
I suppose that would also explain why yoga is now used to sell everything from hair products to cars, and that yoga instructors throughout the world are being treated as lifestyle gurus… or maybe that’s the Madonna factor.
In any case… with all this Yogue navel gazing, I realized that really the issue that is at the heart of this blog is one that I consider vital to the effect of Yoga on my life, that delicate dance between the practice of Yoga, which ultimately is a practice of becoming aware of the materialism of life (and eventually renouncing it) and my love of beautiful and lovingly crafted things.
What that has yielded for me via Yogue is a search for products, services and more that are long-lasting, sustainably made and can potentially positively impact the world somehow through our connection to them. They give us pleasure yes, but with the awareness that ultimately it is all just stuff, allowing us the awareness of moderating the desire realm.
How do you grapple with these questions? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Thanks for asking this important question Insiya. The deeper I go into my practice, the more I find myself being fulfilled by things other than things. That said, whenever I need to buy something, I find myself making more conscious decisions; not to take more than I need, to be mindful of the impacts of the items I choose, and to see if there is a way to help a good cause (or someone who needs a hand up) in the process.
I’ve been reading Michael Stone’s new book, Yoga for a World Out of Balance, and he has a lot of things to say about yoga and consumerism. However, what it comes down to is that it’s consumerism on a bigger scale ~ of oil, cars, property, clothes made in sweatshop ~ which is counter to the principles of yoga.
Personally, I love stuff! And the more ethical, hand-made and local it is, the more I love it. I’m also interested in the story of stuff, how it’s made and by whom and why. Because even though I’m a yogi and I’m doing my best to live a conscious, anti-consumer life, I still need some things. I love pretty things to put on my walls, hand-knitted things to keep me warm, ethical things (with cute packaging) to put on my skin.
I think there’s a way to straddle your yogic aspirations and your love of “beautifully and lovingly crafted things.” You’ll be able to figure out, and your blog is the perfect way to do it! Looking forward to seeing how your practice and blogging evolves…
Insiya Rasiwala-Finn says
I’ve got to check out that book, totally, I do think about the ethics of consumerism a lot, in fact not just through the yoga lens but also through i suppose “conventional religion” and it is hard to make sense of it all, but awareness and honesty i think are the first steps in that direction. 🙂
But in response to girlwarrior — and in a larger response to the question you posed in your post — how do you TRULY know that what you are buying is ethical? You might be buying into that “cute packaging” because you want to. “Oh look, the package says it’s 100% fairly traded — this will make me feel better about wanting stuff.”
A company can tell you they are ethical, or a local artisan can tell you the ingredients they use are fairly traded, etc. — but how do you REALLY know? You don’t. You can’t. Businesses don’t reveal ALL aspects of their business plans to each and every consumer. And consumers don’t have time to truly research each and every company they buy from.
The reality is that most people don’t care — but they do like to feel smug about being ‘consumer conscious’, even though they are just going on website information, press releases (issued by the company), interviews (with company reps) and cute packaging.
Handmade and local can still be run by someone seeing a good idea and sucking the life out of it. Local + handmade does not automatically mean it’s a “better” consumer choice. And large corporations making promises of good working conditions for their workers, etc…. well, spin is spin is spin.
Like you said, it’s all still stuff. Interesting how we like to make ourselves feel better by believing company spin.