By Shiva Rea
California is experiencing its worst drought in 150 years as lake beds dry up, grass turns gold, and crops for the nation’s food supply decline.
Living here, you can feel the thirst of the land around you. In Ayurvedic wisdom, this outer drying of nature affects our own inner juiciness, or ojas, particularly when we go into the drying time of the fall season. “Ojas” is the regenerating fluids of life that give vitality, luster, intrinsic happiness, and longevity.
Ojas depletion can be found in overworking, stress, excessive pushing, and competitive, tension-inducing activities. We can usually tell through our senses when we are burning our ojas. Wasting ojas is no different than wasting water. Building one’s ojas is a positive reconnection to the water element and juicing up within.
The average person in Africa only uses four to six gallons of water a day. In California, the average person wastes twenty gallons a day just flushing good water down the toilet, not to mention fifty to seventy gallons for a bath, ten to twenty-five gallons for a shower, forty-five to one hundred gallons for a car wash.
So how can we make a collective shift, particularly in the yoga community, to help water conservation in the world and within ourselves? How does cultivating ojas in our bodies help us stay more connected to conserving water during a drought? Cultivating ojas is also good for recovering from a spiritual drought when inner space becomes dry from life’s challenges or everyday stress.
Within Ayurveda, there are three main ways of cultivating ojas: juicy, natural, unprocessed soul food; restorative herbs; and relaxation, affection, enjoyment, the senses, movement—basic lovemaking of all forms. Like a candle-lit dinner that saves energy but is also muy romantico, honoring water can help us connect more profoundly to the healing waters within.
These are ways we connect water conservation with ojas generation in our house. This is “yoga energy activism.”
1. Showering with a lover. Two lovers showering is always better than one. You can also try the shower dance: you can clean much more effectively if you move with your whole body. Try it and see.
2. Juicing up la cucina. Eat juicy foods such as fruits, dates, and sesame tahini dips, and play music while you cook—enjoy! Every day you eat vegan saves six hundred gallons of water from your “water footprint,” not to mention saving eight tons of CO2 from going into the atmosphere.
3. Honoring water. Honor your ojas by not burning precious life-energy with stress. Try using saved shower water to flush so you are not using good water for &#*@.
4. Nourishing the roots. Resting, relaxing, enjoying a water- or lunar-based yoga practice, and meditating generates ojas, just as watering plants with water bulbs instead of a hose allows plants to receive what they need while you save lots of water.
5. Swimming in nature. Swim in oceans and rivers instead of pools. Pools take up twenty-two thousand gallons of water.
May we wake up to our current water crisis for the collective good.
Shiva Rea is a water lover, surfer, and prana vinyasa pioneer offering “yogadventure” retreats, trainings, and online courses in collaboration with musicians, scholars, activists, and teachers/studios connected to Samudra Online Global School of Living Yoga. Yoga Energy Activism supports Change the Course in caring for our life-energy within and in nature.