Really?? 25S13 WDCTwo students entered the United States Department of Commerce group exercise room, talking about chewing gum. They remarked on the old gumball machine that has been standing just outside in the hallway for as long as we can remember. The conversation evolved into chewing gum to tide one’s appetite versus after a meal to freshen the breath, and how chewing gum can upset the stomach.

“Keep a jar of fennel seed in your desk,” I suggested, “chew on a few after lunch. They’ll freshen your breath and stimulate digestion.”

As more students entered and set up their spot for the yoga class, the conversation reverted to the questionable ingredients of the gumballs just outside the room. We chuckled with amazement about how so many of us survived a childhood of Twinkies, Yodels, and MacDonald’s Happy Meals.

“Once we shift towards whole, organic food,” one student noted, “it’s hard to go back to the processed, chemical-laden stuff.”

“This conversation,” I smiled, “is a good example of saucha, which is Sanskrit for “cleanliness.” Saucha is one of the ten commandments, if you will, of yoga. There are many ways to practice saucha, including the cleanliness of the food we eat and the products we apply to our skin.

Many of the ingredients in processed foods and skin care products contain carcinogens that are unregulated by the FDA. The first step is awareness. We cultivate awareness through our yoga practice on the mat. By taking care of ourselves on the mat, we are then inspired to take better care of ourselves off the mat.”

After savasana, one student turned to me, “Are you going to write a blog post on the gumball machine?”

Consider it done. And remember to reach for a few fennel seeds instead of chewing gum.