Why Mindfulness is Essential for Farmers and Their Health (AcresUSA)

Excerpted from … https://www.ecofarmingdaily.com/farmers-mindfulness-health/

Farming is tough on the body, and it can also take a toll on the mind. I’ve been a farmer for over six years now and not once has the job been less than physically and emotionally demanding. Before pursuing farming as my chosen career, I worked in a number of professions that exacted their own price from my body, including landscaping and cooking in professional kitchens. None of these jobs came close to matching the exhaustion I’ve felt after a hard day on the farm.

If you picture a whole farmer health regimen as a stone arch, mindfulness is the keystone that holds it all together. On one side, the arch is made up of our physical practices such as diet and exercise, and on the other side are mental practices such as education and bookkeeping. Mindfulness helps keep us in the moment, focused on what is needed in the present.

My friend and neighbor Tracy Hovde is a professional yoga instructor and part-time farmer with her partner, Mark Triebold. They run Lazy I Ranch, raising cattle on 80 acres just a few miles down the road from my farm. Mark bought the property 10 years ago and started raising Highland cattle six years ago. Tracy brings her yogic perspective to raising their cattle.

I spoke to Tracy in September 2016 about her thoughts on how farmers can keep their bodies and minds healthy and what it is like to raise cattle and practice yoga in the countryside:

What led you to practice yoga, and what does yoga mean to you?

Like most people, I started yoga for purely physical reasons. I started a regular yoga practice when I was a dancer. The physical demands of dancing were extreme, and I wasn’t taking good care of myself. I was burned out and was constantly injured.

I found that the Vinyasa classes offered at the gym I worked at as a massage therapist satisfied my need to move, and did so in a way that didn’t strain my body. Now yoga is less about the postures and more about the way I live, the way I view the world around me and my place in it.

When you teach a yoga class, what are your goals, and how do you work toward them?

My goal is always to bring balance. I never know what that means until my students walk into the room and I see how they are walking, their mood, what are they talking about, their energy level, etc. I also factor in things like season, weather and time of day. I use different breathing exercises (Pranayama), poses and specific sequencing of poses, as well as different styles of yoga to help shift their energy toward balance.

Read the full article at EcoFarmingDaily.com:

Why Mindfulness is Essential for Farmers and Their Health

By Andrew French. This article appeared in the April 2017 issue of Acres U.S.A. magazineAndrew French is a livestock farmer and permaculture designer based in western Wisconsin working on developing a viable model of regenerative pig farming from farrow to finish using a whole systems design approach. He can be reached at fullboarfarm@gmail.com. Visit fullboarfarm.com for more information.