Yoga Off The Mat: Farm Life Every Damn Day

After becoming increasingly interested the in farm side of farm-to-table food, I spent the month of August WWOOFing on a permaculture farm 45 minutes outside of Seattle. What I learned changed the way I consider food systems, nature, community, and the cycle of life. However, I'm not so sure that the "pre-yoga" me would've had the mental or physical capacity to hit those pinnacle moments, and here are some of the reasons why.


Patience

 Because rams love untying knots with their horns

Because rams love untying knots with their horns

Ducks don't shit in their food because they know we'll bring them new food. Goats don't break out of their pasture enclosure to spite me. Chickens don't crush their own eggs and eat them in front of us on purpose (so I tell myself). Find better ways to feed the ducks, learn to tie sturdier knots, and come up with creative ways to keep eggs safe. 

Animals are inherently innocent.

Taking the time to observe them, understand their behavior, and stay calm when it seems like they're destroying all your plans is a process. That said, it's a beautiful one, and the nature of beings--furry, feathered and otherwise--can't be accepted without a healthy serving of patience.

Ergonomics

A regular yoga practice translated to body awareness, sensory mindfulness, and a better understanding of ergonomic safety than I could've imagined.

 Cleaning carrots in malāsana ALL DAY

Cleaning carrots in malāsana ALL DAY

Harvesting carrots and cabbage for homemade kimchi? Without a squat game that's absolutely on point, getting through more than an hour of labor-intensive, ground-level work would've been hellish. 

A day spent shoveling wheel barrows filled with high quality duck pond can destroy shoulders and backs, but a lifetime of chaturanga helped me figure out scapular engagement within the first few scoops. When hazelnut and plum trees are at stake, keeping them healthy is a worthwhile investment with a delicious reward. 

Breathing

Before I started yoga, I'd never taken any active strides to control my breathing (unless we're counting holding it underwater all the way to the other side of the pool and back.) From the tang of aging goat cheese to apples baking in the oven, smells wafting through the kitchen warranted deep breathing all on their own. This is something I often forget to do when I'm in the city. 

The less palatable smells -- that of an active compost pile, or a dirty goat pen -- took some getting used to, but because all of these scents served as constant reminders to breathe, I did. Taking it all in and experiencing my surroundings in full definitely takes a few solid inhales, and the effect of that wash of oxygen is not to be missed.

Meditation

Threshing rye, felting wool, husking nuts, slicing tomatoes, collecting eggs... tasks that busy the hands can free the mind.  Each simple, repetitive motion took on a quality of active mediation if I allowed myself to experience things from my senses, rather than from the chattery weirdness of my mind. The liminal space is a place I could return to by way of the thousand+ times I reigned in my thoughts during yoga.

When thoughts did emerge, they were crystal clear amidst the stillness.