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July 2017

Yoga Benefits for the Farm Life (Or Any Life!)

Today 36.7 million adults in the US practice yoga, and it’s a beautiful thing. In 2012 I took my first yoga class at the local community college, and I’ve been hooked ever since. No feeling comes close to the energized sensation I get after completing a thorough yoga routine. And the best part is that even following strenuous sequences, I feel relaxed and ready to take on the day.

At first it was challenging to fit yoga into my off-grid, homesteading life. There is always so much to be done in a single day, and it felt selfish to take the time to practice yoga when my to-do list loomed overhead. Still, now more than ever, yoga is a driving force in creating the very best me–physically and mentally. This grants me the ability to reach my goals and conquer that to-do list. Yoga can do the same for you whether you’ve dabbled in it already or have no idea where to begin. Let me show you how…

Yoga Benefits for Farm Life (or Any Life)

  1. Flexibility

    A regular yoga practice will most assuredly make you more flexible. But you don’t have to be naturally flexible in order to take part in yoga. I was not flexible as a kid, but yoga helped to tremendously increase my flexibility. Every day tasks become easier with greater flexibility. Homesteading can be physically demanding, and having just one more thing on my side (like being flexible) is enough for me to keep up the practice.

  2. Strength

    Likewise, yoga builds strength. Holding particular poses can be challenging-much like carrying buckets of water or logs for firewood. Yoga uses your own body weight to build strength, which is another benefit-no extra cost for weights!

  3. Breathe

    When I practice yoga, I practice breathing through the difficult poses. I move and I breathe, just like we all do every day. The difference is that I’m paying attention to my breathing. This allows me to tune in to the sensations of my body while I’m moving. Its a connection to the very moment. I can take my breath practice further by paying attention to my breathing while weeding the garden, taking care of the animals, or doing any other chore. It’s a way to appreciate the moment without focusing on excessive thoughts of the past or future-which most minds are prone to do.

  4. Time for Me

    I always feel better after some yoga. The reason is because I took time out of my day to take care of me. If I don’t take care of me, I won’t be able to take care of anyone (or thing) else. My body feels good. I’ve moved and stretched. I took deep breathes and let them all go again. Refreshed. I can go about my day knowing I did this for me. It’s never selfish, and I deserve this!

  5. Connecting with Nature

    Yoga outside is probably my favorite yoga. When I have the birds and crickets chirping, the breeze blowing, and the warm sun on my back while on my mat I feel a deeper connection to the nature that I love. It doesn’t get better than breathing in the fresh air while standing in tree pose!

Where to Begin?

Yoga can be brought with you anywhere. You don’t need a gym (or expensive membership), a lot of equipment, or even special clothes. You can do yoga on the carpet of your living room for free if you have access to the internet. There are tons and tons of yoga resources on YouTube. Of course, I do have some favorites to share though!

Erin Motz of Bad Yogi is my go-to yoga inspiration. Her motto is that yoga is not exclusive to enlightened, purely organic, thin, or overly health concerned people. She promotes yoga for everyone! I have been doing yoga with Erin for five or six years, and it continues to get better and better. I recommend her 30 Day Yoga Challenge for beginners or anyone looking to get in the habit of doing yoga on a daily basis. Most of these videos will introduce you to the basic yoga poses, and they typically aren’t longer than 20 minutes. Erin also has a popular 8 week program available for purchase. It’s well worth the cost if your practice is more advanced.

Other great (free) yoga videos…

Ekhart Yoga 

Tara Stiles Strength and Energy Flow (50 minutes)

Tara Stiles Weight Loss and Balance Flow (50 minutes)

Or just search “yoga” on YouTube and find your favorites!

Try it Out

Yoga is a big helper on the homestead. It keeps my body strong and able to do any heavy lifting, and flexible for crawling under cucumber trellises to weed. It help my mind to remain uncluttered for a more peaceful day of tasks that I truly love doing. It’s just that those task build up from time to time, and the work can become more like a list of things to be done. Simply put, yoga helps me enjoy this life I’ve been given and appreciate all the beauty around me. I hope you will give it a try, and find the same results!

 

Zinnia Beauty in the Eye of the Beholder

While visiting with my grandparents recently I shared a picture of my newly opened zinnias. I planted them from seed at the edge of my garden. My grandmother, a flower enthusiast, delighted in the colors. She remembered her mother planting zinnias around the garden, too. This made me curious. Why are zinnias such great garden flowers?

I was hoping to find some folklore stories on the matter. However, there wasn’t much I could find on the traditional practice of planting zinnias around the garden. The history behind these colorful beauties is rather surprising though, and too good not to share! Besides that, there are many fine reasons to plant zinnias-in the garden or just for fun.

Zinnia History

Zinnias, native to Mexico, are named after a German anatomist and botanist named Johann Gottfried Zinn. In his 32 years of life Zinn made a lasting impression on both the medical and botanical fields. He was the first individual to create a thorough anatomy of the human eye. One part of the eye has been named after him as well-the zonule of Zinn or Zinn’s membrane.

In addition to his medical studies, he was passionate about plants. The German Ambassador to Mexico once sent Zinn a pack of zinnia seeds. But at that time, the plant was better known as ‘mal de ojos‘ which means ‘sickness of the eyes,’ or ‘ward off the evil eye‘ to the people of Mexico. There the plant was deemed an uninvited weed. Zinn wrote the first botanical description of the plant, and therefore it was named after him.

Having a fondness for these bright bursts of color, this came as a big surprise to me. How would such beauty be considered a weed? Then I remember all the beautiful “weeds” growing around here-dandelion, clover, chicory, …and the list goes on.

Why Grow Zinnias

I’m glad I could partake in the planting of zinnias around my vegetable garden as so many have before me. Zinnias offer many benefits beyond the natural cheerfulness you can’t help but feel when you look their way.

  • Zinnias are easy to grow, and a great project for kids. Just barely cover them with no more than 1/4 inch of soil in full sun. Water daily until sprouts appear and in no time you’ll have flowers to adore.
  • Zinnias are low maintenance. They don’t require much in the way of fertilizer, mulch, or even water-maybe an inch a week is all they ask. The Zahara species will even clean itself-no deadheading required. And they tend to self-seed for the next year.
  • Zinnias attract pollinators with ease. Their bright, multiple colors call out to the bees and butterflies making them helpful in pollinating garden veggies.
  • Zinnias believe variety is the spice of life. They come in every color except for blue, and their sizes range from 6 inches to 4 feet tall. They either have single or double layers of petals.
  • Zinnias make it easy to grow more and more at no cost. To collect their seeds you’ll just need to let them dry on the stem before gently smashing their flower heads between your hands. This will let the seeds come out, and you can store them in a cool, dry place until the next growing season rolls around.
  • Zinnias make lovely cut flowers. Their colors will brighten up any room, and they will last for quite a while in a vase of water.

Zinnia’s beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, yet their potential and benefits cannot be debated. Their history as a weedy wildflower is unbelievable as I gaze toward my garden. Seeing these zinnias standing tall makes me wish I had planted more. They will always have a place in my garden, as I hope they will yours, too!

Resources

http://www.gardenguides.com/82720-history-zinnia-flowers.html

http://www.gardenguides.com/75187-zinnia-fast.html

http://www.burpee.com/gardenadvicecenter/annuals/zinnias/all-about-zinnias/article10019.html

https://www.chicagobotanic.org/plantinfo/smart_gardener/zinnias_hardest_working_flower_summer_garden

http://www.theflowerexpert.com/content/growingflowers/flowersandseasons/zinnia