On Friday we had the baby and family expo at Kings Court Mall and there I was promoting pregnancy yoga. I had some of my yoga mats on display and someone who claimed to do yoga came up to enquire about the price of the mats. The mats sell for R500. A lady, quite indignantly, asked why the mat was ‘so expensive’. In short: the mat is much cheaper than what you would pay in shops or online and there are a number of reasons why it’s a wonderful yoga mat, but when I got to the part that one of the great things about the mat was that it was bio-degradable, she frowned and interrupted me – ‘why would anyone care if it was bio-degradable?’ she asked. Stunned at her ignorance and/or sheer stupidity, I could only reply: ‘Generally, yogis care about the environment’.

Her comment left me a little angry. Yes, angry is a strong emotion, but that’s me – no half measures. Upon closer inspection of my own response, I realized that – as always, my anger was just sadness earlier down the line. I ultimately felt sad about this woman’s clear indifference to the environment. Our Mother Earth that has always and continues to hold us all, provides for us all, selflessly, without asking for much in return – other than perhaps not killing her as quickly as we are currently doing. When did this woman stop caring? Did she ever care? And this shallow, narrow, indifferent and ignorant outlook – how many people in this country and in this world hold it?

When did so many of us stop caring?

Why does it not matter to us that our landfills are filling up and overflowing with products that will never decompose into something useful? Why is recycling so low on the agenda? Why is it okay that our country is full of rubbish everywhere and even when we put the rubbish in dedicated spots – why don’t we care that non-biodegradable waste impact on our environment in such a disturbing and serious way? Why don’t we care about our land, our country: this place on earth that we call home? If we don’t know the impact of our lives and rubbish on the environment – why don’t we care enough to find out?

This got me thinking further and to be honest, I got increasingly sad. I realized how many overweight and obese people I saw at the event on Friday, and how many really, really fat people I see every day, walking around PE. I ask myself the same question – when did we/they/fat people stop caring?

You didn’t wake up one day and realize – ‘oh geez, I’m 20 kg’s overweight! Who the hell visited overnight and handed me this nasty surprise? ‘There are no fairytale figures such as Father Christmas or the Tooth fairy who come and make you fat. You bring it on yourself, systematically, over time. At some point you stopped caring about yourself enough to stop and think – what am I doing to my perfect, miracle body? The fact that people stop caring about themselves is such a profoundly sad state of affairs and there are many, many reasons why this happens. I, of course, have sympathy for all those reasons. But let’s keep it real here – bottom line: When did we stop caring enough to look after ourselves?

How do you honestly and truly care and respect your body and then at the same time stuff it full of sh*t which ultimately has you the size of a house, miserable, sick, clammy and out of breath? (The same goes for smoking, excessive drinking, purposeful starvation, being in unhappy relationships, hating our jobs.)

Then I think about how people manage their weight and their attempts at weight loss. Even when people think they care enough to DO something about what has happened to their bodies, they don’t care about how they address it. The number of fad diets people follow, pills they take and other ways in which they just break the body down rather than build it up to deal with the damage that’s already there, is enormous! People starve themselves, clog up their livers and kidneys with toxins through medication, eat ‘food’ one molecule away from being plastic because it says ‘fat free’ or ‘sugar free’ and they do not care one dime how it impacts their body. People who exploit fat people by selling diet pills, books, and weight loss programmes that serves no-one other than themselves, make me feel nauseous. When did they stop caring about other people? How do you respect yourself if that’s the business you’re in?

As a nation we pride ourselves on many wonderful things about our country – and rightfully so. I am also very disturbed by how many people pride themselves on how much meat they eat, how much beer they can drink and how they drive so well when they’re drunk.

No one says you have to be vegetarian to be healthy but I only need to mention Dr Atkins for us all to realize how a diet consisting of predominantly meat, is bad for you, your health, your heart, your weight and just about every organ in your body. Eat meat if you enjoy it. Care enough for your body to understand the proportions you need in relation to your lifestyle, your blood group, and knowing what your body can and can’t handle.

The same goes for beer and alcohol. No one says you should never drink but looking at the beer bellies around town – really? Something to be proud of or something to hang our heads in shame about?

Driving drunk doesn’t even warrant a further word. Never mind seizing to care – when did you start hating yourself and every other person around you – those you know and those you don’t – that you not only think driving drunk is funny, but boasting about how well you do it is acceptable in any way shape or form.

When did we stop caring about ourselves and about each other?

In which era did we leave our self-respect behind?

I realized while pondering this, that because we have become so disconnected from ourselves: our true spiritual nature, we struggle to love and respect who and what we really are. We see ourselves on a superficial level – not acknowledging or realizing what a privilege life is, what a miracle we are, how vast and brilliant we were created. We stopped caring about ourselves and so we stopped caring for others and for the world we live in.

I am grateful to yoga for many things and this has to be one of the most fundamental and useful lessons I have ever learnt through the practice: Honour your body, honour yourself, acknowledging your connectedness to others, the environment and the world at large. This might sound so foreign and hippie-ish….but I would much rather associate with that way of thinking, honour my body, love my life, respect the earth and everything that dwells on it and care about whether my mat is bio-degradable or not – than live a life of ultimate ignorance, ill health, and disconnectedness from everyone and everything.

Step away from this mentality. Starting with yourself – begin to care again.