Attention! Calling all yoga students, teachers and practitioners: your planet needs you.
We are living in a time of serious environmental degradation.
The climate is already changing and this trend is set to continue. We are seeing species loss and animal extinction at an unprecedented rate.
The time to act is now and, as yoga practitioners, we have a duty to act. We know that we should be environmentally aware and reduce our impact wherever possible. In the yoga world, environmental consciousness is entrenched in our culture.
Do we really understand our duty to act? And if we do, do we know that best way to go about this action?
Environmental consciousness stems from the very core of yogic philosophy.
From Patanjili’s sacred text The Yoga Sutras, we get the eight principles of Yoga, the first being the practice of Ahimsa, meaning non-violence. Non-violence should be practiced towards ourselves and all other living things. This means much more than dining on lentils and sprouts daily and not treading on bugs while you walk.
Non-violence means doing everything we can to not negatively impact on the lives of others, human, animals and plants alike.
Climate change will impact on all of us, animal, vegetable and mineral. It will impact humans living on the low-lying islands of the South Pacific, the coral reef ecosystems that are threatened by coral bleaching and the polar bears, some of which are already drowning in the icy polar waters, due to lack of ice to rest on.
So, what do we do? Well, the good news is we can do a lot to help.
The following five tips can help develop your Ahimsa practice and dramatically reduce your impact (added benefits include additional exercise and usually saving a couple of bucks as well):
1. Be informed.
The environment, climate change, biodiversity loss—these are all highly complex issues.
Read often and choose reputable sources, such as university websites, official non-government organisations and publications from science based institutes.
As a teacher, I often find that the most accessible information comes from science organisations’ websites and using their education or “for kids” pages, where scientific information is made simple.
2. Be food conscious.
Buy locally grown, low-packaging produce, organic where possible. Or even better, grow your own!
A small herb garden or windowsill pot with some sprouts is a great place to start. Buy local produce as much as possible and stick to seasonal food. There are far less carbon miles in refrigeration and transportation with local produce, and they are richer in nutrients too.
3. Reduce car use.
There are many fun ways to get around other than driving. Walk, run, ride a bike or catch public transport.
Not only are these methods of transport better for your mental and physical health, it’s also better for the planet. If you need to drive, consider car-pooling, or limiting your trips when possible.
4. Consume less.
Instead of shopping as a hobby or buying things new, try sharing, recycling and creative reuse of things. Consider clothes swaps, buying things on Ebay or joining a library. It’s fun, cheap and has minimal negative environmental impact!
5. Stay positive.
Sure, there is a lot of bad news for the planet, but this doesn’t mean we should lose hope. There are plenty of people doing amazing things to help the environment.
Consider volunteering, or donating to an organisation that is doing something positive to impact the environment. Connect with these people and take action today.
As yogis, we have an unshakable responsibility to have a strong sense of environmental awareness and to act in accordance. Through the practice of yoga, we deepen our connection to all living things and must act in a way that reduces the harm to them.
Make a decision today to help save the planet.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Carrie Marzo/Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: Natasa Dokovska/Pixoto