We at OM Matters are excited to share with you this writing from Abby Paloma, our friend and Give-Back Partner on Farm to Yoga events for at-risk youth. She inspires us to practice yoga off our mats with food.
Inspiration from Abby
Shortly after I began farming, I remembered Thich Nhat Hahn’s story of interdependence.
When a student asked a wise woman what she saw in a piece of paper, the woman replied, “I see the clouds.”
The student asked, “How do you see the clouds in this piece of paper?”
She answered, “I remember the person who made this paper and his family. I remember the tree from where the paper was harvested; I see the sun that fed the leaves with sunlight and the rich soil that nourished the roots. I see the water that rained downed from the clouds to grow this tree. This is how I see the clouds in this piece of paper.”
The earth is an extension of our bodies. The health of our soils is the health of our blood. The health of our air is the health of our breath. The health of the individual is the health of the collective. The current food system is suffering. The solutions are in our hands. An increasingly large amount of food is being sourced from faraway lands. Our farmers are being paid less and less for their crops. In the USA, only one in ten farmers can support his or her family. Our water, soil, and entire ecosystem are threatened by chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The challenges we face with our food system are those that no generation has known before. Today, the most radical things you can do are to grow your own food, know the person who grew it, and share “happy” food with your community.
I gave one of my first farm tours to a group of visiting friends and yogis. There was so much fascination and laughter as I told stories of these edible plants. I remember the holy moment when I pulled a carrot from the ground. There was silence, then cheering. Just as the wise woman saw the clouds in the paper, I saw a wave of realization cross my friends’ faces. It was that thing they always knew, but might not have remembered: “Food comes from the ground!” This aha moment reminded us all that we, as people, as friends and neighbors, could grow food. Whether on a windowsill, in a backyard, or on a farm, the power of growing food is in our hands.
As yogis, we have the tools to organize and already value the importance of being in community. Local farmers need our support. The new food system we consciously create needs our action.
I am here to invite us to take our practice a bit deeper…to practice mindfulness bite by bite. We choose everyday—multiple times a day—what we put inside our bodies. How can we see the clouds on our plates? How can we see our farmers with the seeds for our future? How can we see the communities that are thriving because of our actions?
Here are a few practical ways you can take your yoga practice off the mat and into your life with food:
- Join your local CSA
- Volunteer at your local farm
- Visit a local farm with friends and attend farm events
- Start a window or backyard garden
- Join a community garden
- Shop at the farmer’s market
- Save your seeds/support seed libraries
Abby Paloma is certified as both 500-hr Yoga Alliance and Advanced Restorative Yoga teacher, and has taught yoga for nearly a decade. Abby is the founder of Farm To Yoga, which unites yogis with their local farmers. Through clear instruction and heartfelt sensitivity, Abby provides her students with time and space to dive inward to do their own healing work. Her deep understanding of physical and energetic anatomy offers harmonizing and grounding benefits to her students. She regularly teaches workshops that combine the benefits restorative yoga, reiki and sound. She also leads teacher trainings in and near New York City. Abby is near completion of her doctorate in Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and continues to study with her teachers Judith Lasater and Elena Brower. Her undergraduate education focused on neuroscience and Jungian psychology at New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study.