One thing I love about teaching yoga is that I am always a student. Every time I tell my students to stay with their breath, to stay present, that it's okay to be pushed out of their comfort zone, whatever, I am again telling myself. Reminding myself. Every time a student comes to me and asks recommendations for anything from deodorant to face wash, it makes me do a self-inquiry too. Am I being mindful in those areas of my life? Where can I improve? To follow up on my last blog post and my word of the year, engaged, I wanted to share some information on oil pulling and Sargassum.
I, like most Americans, didn't have dental insurance for a really long time, I went years without going to the dentist and if I needed treatment, it was done in Mexico due to the significant difference in cost. I had mentioned this to my teacher, Joseph Stingley, and he asked me to research oil pulling. Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurveda (the traditional medicine system from India) practice of swishing oil in your mouth like mouthwash every morning. I put a tablespoon of coconut oil in my mouth while I'm showering and split it in the trashcan after about 15 minutes. This is believed to kill bacteria, prevent cavities & gingivitis, help with bad breath, whiten teeth and detoxify the body. After, I brush my teeth with a charcoal toothpaste, then dip my toothbrush in baking soda and brush my teeth again with the paste, and finally I floss my teeth...sometimes up to 3x a day. I've talked about oil pulling already with a few students, I know it's a challenge to get used to at first but it's something I've practiced for a few years now and I've seen benefits. Last week, my daughter and I went to the dentist for a check up/cleaning and neither of us had cavities! The Dr. said keep doing what you're doing. I know every body is different but I wanted to share so you can do your own research. Most of the time when I mention oil pulling to someone, they have never heard of it.
Next I want to talk to you about Sargassum Seaweed and I'll tie the two together. You probably haven't heard of Sargassum, it isn't something new but for the last few years we have seen a significant bloom of this algae that is washing up on the coastlines from Cancun all the way down to Belize in record setting numbers. I'm talking about COVERING beaches! It's something I saw last July when I was down in Tulum and it really broke my heart. The hotels, restaurants, volunteers were endlessly trying to manually clean the beach, except that only resulted in HUGE piles of rotting, stinky, toxic seaweed with nowhere to go and new mats of seaweed washing in daily. You can imagine the negative impact this has on tourism, and their economy. At first I wanted to make a Facebook post about it, sharing pictures of what I had seen but then I thought of all my friends there. That make a living on tourism. I didn't want to hurt their business so I didn't post about it. Instead, I organized a yoga retreat to take some of my students and teacher to the place I love, that is being impacted and I educated them along the way. I talked to them about the importance of being mindful of what we wear in the water, what lotions and sunscreen we are putting on our skin, carrying a reusable water bottle and taking note that no restaurants there have plastic straws and don't really hand out single use plastics. Why is Mexico, a third world country, serving agave straws at restaurants and here in the United States we are serving plastic? It is because they are seeing first hand the impact of global warming. The sargassum is thriving in growth due to warming water temperatures and run off nutrients like fertilizers and feces. All of our waste here in the States running off into waterways, finding their way to the Mississippi River and into the Gulf. Yes, we have a responsibility in this. As these large blooms of seaweed wash in, it creates an extreme lack of oxygen in the water that is contributing to killing off the reef and marine life. Using heavy machinery to remove these piles on the shore will erode the beach and disturb the endangered sea turtle nests so clean up has to be done by hand. Sadly, there's just too much to do this by hand. The government tried to put barriers out at sea to prevent it from washing ashore but efforts failed. Business are suffering but most importantly our Mother Earth is trying to tell us something. We NEED to change. We HAVE to make a change.
Honoring our Mother all day, every day. When each of us do something small, it can add up collectively to something pretty significant. As I thought about writing a blog on oil pulling, it again made me do a self-inquiry. I'm trying to teach my students something, but in turn you have again made me grow. I noticed that yes my dental health is on point but also that I'm using plastic toothbrushes and A LOT of single use flossers. I need to change, I need to do better. I am not perfect but I will do better. I invite you to implement small changes too so collectively we can make a difference.
Where can you be more mindful in your single use plastics? What are some alternatives that you can share with me for toothbrushes and floss? I've included two really good, short videos below. I ask that you take the time to educate yourself on this global issue and mindful tourism. Where can you honor y(our) Mother (better) all day, every day?
7 Minute Video - Sargassum explained by George Buckley, Harvard University