More than ever, our divine home, our Mother Earth, needs us, and a consistent yoga practice can, and will, help us to realize what’s at stake and how we can be of service to heal the epidemic we now face.
Yoga is transformational, and it works by using asana (postures), focused concentration, and pranayama (breathing techniques) to connect the body to the mind, and the mind to the soul. The word “yoga” literally translates to “union” or “yoke” and represents the merging unity of one’s will and higher self (the divine).
Yoga teaches us that we are connected to Mother Earth, and that every part of her is within us.
It begins with asana. The asana practice enables us to feel that there is something animating our physical form. We begin to realize that we are not just physical creatures and begin to understand our human creation on a deeper level. The physical practice alone is transformational, and it is this aspect of yoga that allows us to become open to the rest of the magic yoga has for us.
The mind and the body are intimately connected, and it is through the breath that we begin to understand this truth firsthand. The pranayama (breath) practice bridges the gap between body and consciousness, allowing us to register both our physical and mental states. Pranayama is our life force.
These physical and breath practices bring us intense concentration. Through its meditative aspects, yoga enables us to watch our minds think, to realize we are more than the mind and its thoughts. When we sit back and watch the mind generate thoughts, we discover who we really are.
Once we begin to grasp that we are not just our physical bodies or our thoughts, we become more attuned to our emotions and feelings. This may seem like a bad thing but it’s the complete opposite! To feel the presence of emotions is beautiful; it means we have woken up out of our lonely, dark, grief-stricken casket and are now alive and present to the divine (soul) that is within us, which is Mother Earth herself. At this point, the yoga practitioner seeks to yoke his or her individual soul with cosmic consciousness.
We now realize that human behavior is undermining the ecosystem—the web of life—and we are no longer a sustainable human population on this planet. We have undermined and disrespected our ecosystem to such a degree that we’re on the verge of mass extinction—of humans and the animal kingdom. According to renowned biologist Bruce Lipton, we are losing species 1,000 times faster than throughout history.
The ancient teachings of yoga remind us that it is our duty to live in harmony with nature and to tend to its garden. For instance, when we practice Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations A and B), we are setting the intention using the movement of the body and the breath for our entire practice through this prayer. We bow down in respect to the heavens, the Earth and all earthly beings with the intention of self-realization. It’s a profound reminder that we are not at all alone, that we are very much affected by our surroundings and by the pain Mother Earth is suffering.
Yoga brings us back to our natural state, a state of intuition and mindfulness, which increases awareness of our surroundings. Our senses become receptive to the elements of earth, water, fire, air, and to the cosmic movements of the sun, moon, and stars.
Specific limbs of the eight limbs of yoga call to us: ahimsa (non harming), to limit harm to animals and the Earth, aparigraha (non possession or non greed), to cut down consumption, and saucha (purity), to become aware of pollution.
Yoga teaches us how to stand (and be) like a mountain or a tree, rooted in the Earth, reaching for the heavens. Poses like fish, cobra, frog, lion, and camel help connect us to our animal kin through imaginative embodiments.
From the viewpoint of yoga, the body of the Earth is, like our own body, a sacred and complex living organism.
Yoga leads us to realize the unity of human and Earth, humanized self and wild nature: the Great Mystery we have never been, and cannot ever be, apart from.
Yoga = Enlightenment.
And, in the words of my teacher, Mick Barnes:
“Yoga equals change. Without humility, there can be no transformation. Getting on the mat each and every day allows that change to happen. The asana is our playground. The teacher the disturbing force. Through practice, we achieve mental and emotional stability. Equanimity.”
Author: Nichole Ferro
Editor: Travis May