Spring Cleaning

Spring cleaning gets a lot harder once yoga’s involved, writes Victoria Jackson

I’m not much of a clean freak, but there’s something very therapeutic about sorting things out. I’ve been spring cleaning a bit recently — and I’m trying to do it yogically, with some thought for the yamas and niyamas. Shaucha (cleanliness) in a very literal sense is of course the goal, but I’m also trying to think about aparigraha (non-hoarding of things I don’t need) and santosha (contentment with what I have). I’ve cleaned and tidied, and sorted through clothes and other bits and bobs, trying not to hang on to too much stuff simply from sentimental attachment. Now I must take the bags of clothing to the charity shop before I start second-guessing and picking items back out!

As if all this domestic activity wouldn’t make me feel quite smug in itself, I’m also trying to do my springtime spruce-up with more of a thought for the wider environment and not just blitzing my home free of grime come what may. This is my practice of ahimsa (not harming the environment). I’ll admit that my pre-yoga self didn’t give much thought to the chemicals I used, provided I left the windows open enough to freshen the air afterwards. But in that way yoga has of permeating all aspects of life in unexpected ways, I’m now more concerned about finding environmentally kinder cleaning products, and I’ve been trying out some more ecological brands and applying a bit more old-fashioned elbow grease.

Spring cleaning myself

One thing leads to another, and because I was feeling pretty good about this, I thought I’d extend my ambition for fewer chemicals beyond the bottles that live under the kitchen sink. After examining the beauty products I use I began trying to make some more ecological choices in cosmetics and toiletries too.

So far, so good. But it all stopped when I got to hair care. I tried swapping the chemical-laden hair serum I use to keep my frizz under control for a more natural alternative. Pure argan oil supposedly has many benefits, but keeping my rather thick hair looking good doesn’t seem to be one of them — despite the fact that it’s organic, fair-trade, and came with a nice message about how sales are supporting a local women’s cooperative in Morocco. I felt very good about this purchase, but I didn’t look very good as a result of it.

So now I have a moral dilemma. Do I use greener products only when they don’t inconvenience me? Am I that shallow? I’m telling myself that every little bit helps, that one step at a time is good enough in my yoga off the mat as it is in asana practice on the mat. Some changes happen gradually over time, and moving in the right direction slowly is better than not moving at all. It’s either that, or I need to get a radical haircut!

Victoria Jackson lives and teaches in Oxford. She is registered with Yoga Alliance Professionals as a vinyasa yoga teacher. Read more of Victoria’s OM Lite columns.

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