The Yoga of Sustainability (Part 1). ~ Matt King

Via on Jan 13, 2011

The Avurvedic Codifers of Yoga Philosophy.

What is Yoga? What is Sustainability? What do the two have to do with each other?

Yoga is the state of perfect balance, union, of divine super-knowledge that is within the capacity of everyone that strives ardently toward the goal of liberation from the cycle of birth and death. It surpasses individuality and is the emergence of a whole from what appear to be disparate parts of perceived phenomena.

Sustainability is the state of infinite and eternally regenerating fullness, any system or organism that is sustainable exhibits either a perfect balance of production and consumption, or produces more than it consumes.

So what is the Yoga of Sustainability? Or the Sustainability of Yoga? Why should modern yogis care about sustainability? From our mats, to props, to heaters and lights in studios, to what we arrive at class in or on, to the food that we use to nourish ourselves, every aspect of yoga practice and indeed of life is inseparable from the Earth and Cosmic Consciousness which are the foundations of all our endeavors. When we actively think about what yoga really means we tend to generate thought forms that resonate with ideal types or concepts: freedom, harmony, union, equanimity, gnosis, bliss. All of these ideal types are at odds with our current way of life and this is why we take refuge in our yoga practice. Every day we are bombarded by our hyper consumptive capitalist society to purchase, experience momentary satisfaction from, and then discard a gargantuan array of products. The Media Awareness Project cites studies which claim over 3,000 exposures to advertisements per person every 24 hours, and from empirical evidence this number seems all too feasible, even though some of the “exposures” may be merely viewing a brand label or glancing at an ad on Facebook or Gmail. The driving force of our economic system is consumption, and the driving force of consumption is marketing. Marketing is making a certain product or service appealing and is all about making a Brand, creating Brand recognition, and establishing a relationship between the consumer and the Brand. Mother Nature does not have brands, nor does she market herself. She has no budget for purchasing slots on TV or radio, and cannot sell herself on adwords or facebook ads. I like to sum up the ecological crisis with a simple exercise:

1. Name as many models of cars that you can.

2. Name as many species of plants that are indigenous to your native region or where you currently dwell as you can.

How many car models did you name? 5? 10? 20? Think about how many vehicles which consume their own weight in gasoline every year and produce 2-4 times their weight in greenhouse gas emissions you could name in that brief amount of time. I got probably 20 or 30 including domestic and imports, very quickly. Now how many species of native plants could you list? I get to around 10 for my native California and it takes me a while. There are 3 major automobile manufacturers in the United States making perhaps 100 different models, and there are 5,862 species of plants that are native to California. How perverse is that?

Patanjali, the first major codifier of Yoga Philosophy as such (appearing in the Yoga Sutras), describes an 8-limb, or asthanga approach to Yoga, the first limb being Yama – 1. Ahimsa – Non-harm, 2. Satya – Truthfulness in thought and speech, 3. Asteya – Non-covetousness, 4. Brahmacarya – Abide by moderation/chastity, and 5. Aparigraha – Non-possessiveness. How can we apply these foundations of the yogic path to developing sustainable individual lifestyles and sustainable societies? First we have to interpret them to our context:

1. The modern consumerist lifestyle is inherently harmful, with human consumption and industrial production having an impact on many ecosystems and forms of life, not to mention creating craving and attachment. Human societies today are net consumers, consuming more than they produce.

2. Advertising, the driver of the modern consumerist lifestyle, is inherently untruthful – it convinces us that we need things that we do not.

3. Advertising and consumption are the primary motivations for covetousness and theft.

4. Human population growth and unmoderated consumption of natural resources are the primary contributors to societal unsustainability and to the global environmental crisis.

5. Capitalist societies and the phenomenon of “conspicuous consumption” (download) inherently generate possessiveness and attachment to material goods through inequality and marketing.

Interpreted in this way we see how far we are from achieving yoga, and from achieving sustainability. This is where the Yoga of Sustainability comes in, to be continued…

Bio:

After graduating from school in January of 2009 from Harvard University with an AB in the Comparative Study of Religion I moved back home to the San Francisco Bay Area and worked in a variety of trades from college test preparation to coaching a high school rowing team. I later co-founded and spent a year working as the Director of Logistics and Operations for Quetsol S.A., a micro-scale solar company in Guatemala aiming to provide 500,000 families without electricity with access to LED illumination and cell phone charging systems. I also served as a consultant for Core Foods which produces an organic, whole food meal replacement bar called the Core Meal, now available in Whole Foods and Costco in the Bay Area. The path of spirituality kept calling me and so I earned RYT – 200 Yoga Teacher certification at the end of February 2010, which I did through Laura Camp’s Camp Yoga at the Monkey Yoga Shala in Oakland. After moving to Guatemala I continued to pursue the path of sharing yoga with others and earned RYT-500 hour certification in July 2010 with Vedantin Ping Luo of School Yoga Institute in San Marcos la Laguna, Guatemala. I was blessed to live and teach/facilitate two yoga teacher trainings in Guatemala on Lago de Atitlán from July-December of 2010 where I began studying ayurveda, herbalism, Sanksrit language, Mayan cosmology, and shamanic energy healing with Vedantin and Mayan Elder Tata Pedro Cruz as well as through personal study. I have now returned to the San Francisco Bay Area and my mission is to share my experience in entrepreneurship, business, yoga, meditation, ayurveda, shamanic energy healing, and Buddhist studies with businesses, start-ups, NGOs, and yoga studios around the Bay.

Bio:

After graduating from school in January of 2009 from Harvard University with an AB in the Comparative Study of Religion I moved back home to the San Francisco Bay Area and worked in a variety of trades from college test preparation to coaching a high school rowing team. I later co-founded and spent a year working as the Director of Logistics and Operations for Quetsol S.A., a micro-scale solar company in Guatemala aiming to provide 500,000 families without electricity with access to LED illumination and cell phone charging systems. I also served as a consultant for Core Foods which produces an organic, whole food meal replacement bar called the Core Meal, now available in Whole Foods and Costco in the Bay Area. The path of spirituality kept calling me and so I earned RYT – 200 Yoga Teacher certification at the end of February 2010, which I did through Laura Camp’s Camp Yoga at the Monkey Yoga Shala in Oakland. After moving to Guatemala I continued to pursue the path of sharing yoga with others and earned RYT-500 hour certification in July 2010 with Vedantin Ping Luo of School Yoga Institute in San Marcos la Laguna, Guatemala. I was blessed to live and teach/facilitate two yoga teacher trainings in Guatemala on Lago de Atitlán from July-December of 2010 where I began studying ayurveda, herbalism, Sanksrit language, Mayan cosmology, and shamanic energy healing with Vedantin and Mayan Elder Tata Pedro Cruz as well as through personal study. I have now returned to the San Francisco Bay Area and my mission is to share my experience in entrepreneurship, business, yoga, meditation, ayurveda, shamanic energy healing, and Buddhist studies with businesses, start-ups, NGOs, and yoga studios around the Bay.

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