What goes in doesn’t always come out…

“Wood, toys, electronics, pesticides and cosmetics…are banned or restricted elsewhere, particularly in Europe and Japan, because they may raise the risk of cancer, alter hormones or cause reproductive or neurological damage.”

Marla Cone, Los Angeles Times, 2006

The human body is designed to rid itself of toxins, to keep itself clean. From the beginnings of life our bodies take in food and water and get rid of what isn’t useful and could potentially harm us. And, for a very long time (millions and millions of years for much of life on earth) this system has worked amazingly well.

Enter human innovation. As far back as 2500BC, humans figured out how to use chemicals to their advantage. The Sumerians used sulfur to keep away mites, and although science has come a long way since then, it hasn’t necessarily been to our advantage.  Now, chemicals are involved in nearly everything we come in contact with on a daily basis—even the water we drink!

What if our laundry detergent, mat cleaner, even our natural, organic shampoo and body wash is infusing our body with just as many toxins as it’s getting rid of?

In the Yoga Sutras, the ancient sage Patanjali described saucha (cleanliness, purification of body and mind) in his list of personal observances (niyamas).  Interpreting saucha at the most practical, 21st century level, this cleanliness can be applied to our basic personal hygiene practices: keeping ourselves clean, free from dirt, odors, and other unsanitary conditions. Saucha also applies to what we put in and on our bodies, as well as the environments in which we place ourselves.

If we are trying to live a yogic life, even at a 21st century, “householder” level, how can we practice saucha if the products that surround us contain toxins that, once in our bodily systems, are never eliminated? Are we exposed to so many chemicals today that our bodies are simply unable to get rid of them fast enough or efficiently enough to keep us healthy?

Visit the Environmental Working Group to find out what’s in your cosmetics and personal care products.

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- who has written 5 posts on Yoga Modern.

Ashlee is Assistant Editor for the Earth Current at Yoga Modern and considers herself a lifelong learner. After graduating from university with studies in Political Science and Spanish, she fell headfirst in love with yoga. She loved not only the deep physical experience yoga provides, but also its connection between mind, body, and spirit and seemingly endless opportunities to learn. Having grown up on a fruit farm in rural Maine, Ashlee resonated most with the yogic philosophy of interconnectedness and the observance of ahimsa. She takes her practice off the yoga mat by delving deeper into the interconnectedness of the global food chain, by following the thread of a simple dietary decision to its impacts on the consumer, the local economy and the local and global environments. Ashlee currently lives and teaches yoga in Dallas, Texas.

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