7.26.2013

The Perils and Pitfalls of Natural Living

Healthy living has been a personal interest since my early teens.  I have striven throughout my life to treat my body well, hence the yoga.  However, because my understanding of what "healthy living" means has varied wildly over the years, I have not always lived healthfully and, in fact, knowingly and unknowingly, have done my body harm.  I have abstained from this and partook of that, applied this and rinsed with that, but always felt a certain degree of self-defeat in my efforts to feed and care for myself with complicated diets and chemical-laden products.  But the alternatives were few, I thought, and sometimes frightening.

This year, despite the challenge, I decided to make a big push in the direction of natural health.  With the help of Kiki Flynn and her fabulous Youtube channel, plus a smattering of other blogs that you can find in the Damn Good blogroll, I have eliminated or replaced all of my personal health and hygiene products with totally natural alternatives.  I have also simplified my diet, improved my digestion, and begun to make my own cleaning products for the home.  This has been wonderful for my health and peace of mind, but it has also been -- and continues to be -- a lot of work.

Natural health takes time.  Fortunately, I seem to have a lot of it.  But what if I didn't?  If I worked a 9-5 plus my daily practice, not to mention dog walks and other domestic responsibilities, how could I possibly have time for neti every morning?  And tongue scraping?  And dry brushing, plus the oil massage before my shower?  And, afterwards, combing out my natural hair without the chemical lubricants of conditioners and shampoo?  And shaving, and tweezing, and powdering and blushing and all that other shit I have to do to look attractive and professional and show my self-respect?  There's no way.

Also, natural health is filthy.  My bathroom sink is constantly stained with neem dust, green clay, oils, and salts.  I can scrub my tub clean, and two days later, there's another ring of oily scum around the base.  Both drains in the bathroom clog with regularity, so I have to boil pots of water to free the pipes.  And, because I'm cleaning more and using cloths instead of cotton balls or tissue on my face, I do a bit more laundry.

Still, I think it's worth it.  My skin -- which has always been sensitive and problematic -- is smooth, clear, and healthy.  I feel wonderful.  I have less tension.  Less inflammation.  Less muscle soreness after practice and more energy than ever before.  There is a deep sense of satisfaction in the hands on, self-loving approach of natural health and beauty, and this daily work has attuned me more fully to the rhythms of both my physical and emotional lives.

I am considering composing a series of posts on the subject of natural health, sharing my experiences and insight on how to manage these tasks in the least messy and most efficient, economical, and ecologically conscious way.  

Readers:  Is this a topic that interests you?  What obstacles do you find in your natural health endeavors?  Are there solutions that you seek?  Let me know in the comments.

12 comments:

  1. Yes, please do. I'd like to be more disciplined but honestly, it's challenging.

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  2. Yes! I love the Ayurvedic practices, and could use extra motivation to maintain them with more consistency!

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  3. Yes, please post some natural health stuff. I am interested but like you said, it's a lot of work. Still it might be helpful to get some ideas on how you do things.

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  4. I started eliminating chemicals from our household about 3 months ago. At first, I was overwhelmed, not knowing how I'd be able to do it. But, then as I ran out of things, I just replaced them with ecofriendly alternatives. It turned in to a relatively simple process once I got started. Now our house is completely chemical free as far as household cleaners go.

    Personal products are a little more tricky - so it's still a work in progress. I will say that I made the switch to a homemade deodorant (which I purchase from a local seller) which has been probably the most significant change of all. Once my body realized that it didn't have to be "blocked" from perspiring anymore, the transformation began. Seriously, this was the best thing I ever did for my body.

    I'm glad to have discovered your blog, by the way!

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  5. Yes! Husband and I both have added natural alternatives to health and hygiene products. I have also started making our own home cleaning products (like laundry detergent and soaps). I've found tons of online resources that I'm happy to share too!

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  6. I'd really like to hear your opinion on the natural deodorants. I've been trying so hard to switch but every one I try is sticky and they don't work. Have you found anything you love?
    Thanks!

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    1. Hi Savannah. You got it. Natural deodorant coming up next!

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  7. I go the natural route for everything. I used to adhere to the principle "if I can't put it in my mouth, I won't put it on my skin" but have since relaxed a little (because the oils I use for my face are not edible!).
    I actually don't think it takes that much time, once you get the hang of it. I did a daily self-massage every single morning for a couple years, once I had the routine down it only took about 10 minutes.
    But I've since stopped the oil massage because it basically ruined all my towels and clothes (aside from also clogging my drains and making my shower look filthy). Every time I toweled off after I showered, and for every item of clothing I put on my skin, the towel and clothes would get a little bit of oil on them, and over time it accumulated and the oil became rank until all my clothes and towels were stinky no matter how often I washed them. I tried everything to get the oil out, but in the end had to throw out a bunch of clothes and towels. I really enjoyed my oil massages, but it was too high a price to pay for me. So if you have a solution to this Megan, I would love to hear about it...

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  8. I work really a lot. Live in nyc and have to look "professional." Not an option for me. Still I try to do what i can. Happy to just to get in some practice>

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  9. I've been reading your posts, and it IS very motivating! I wonder if you know about natural sunscreen??? I love to be outside, but I'm of English and German descent and I have to wear sunscreen just about every day.

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    1. Hey, Rachel! Coconut oil is a totally natural, single-ingredient SPF 4, which is what I wear every day. But if know that I'm going to be out in direct sun for more than a few minutes at a time, I use Nature's Gate mineral sportblock for more heavy duty protection. It is a little bit chalky, so it makes my pale skin look even more pale, but it is natural and it works.

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