Wild Yoga Tribe “The Earth Beneath Our Mats: How Yoga Can Inspire Environmental Consciousness”
by Lily Allen-Duenas
If you are a yoga practitioner looking to make a positive impact on the environment, you’re in the right place. In this blog, we’ll explore how yoga and environmentalism intersect, and offer tips for becoming a more environmentally conscious yoga practitioner. Yoga is not only about physical movements on the mat but also about ethical and mindful living, which can help us become more aware of our own impact on the environment. Some of the ethical principles of yoga, such as non-harming (ahimsa), moderation (brahmacharya), and non-greediness (aparigraha), can be applied to our daily lives both on and off the mat to promote sustainability and environmental protection.
To incorporate environmental awareness into your yoga practice, you can start by using eco-friendly yoga mats and props, conserving energy and water during your practice, and making eco-conscious choices in your daily life. Yoga studios and communities can also promote environmental awareness by using eco-friendly materials, reducing waste, and conserving energy and water. By practicing yoga in nature, such as in a park or on the beach, we can deepen our connection to the environment and inspire us to be more mindful of our impact.
Choosing an eco-friendly yoga mat is a good starting point for aligning your daily routine or regular yoga practice with environmentalism. Not all yoga mats are created equally, and some yoga mats are more environmentally-friendly or contain recycled materials. Yoga studios can also be more environmentally conscious by opting to offer more sustainable yoga mats to their students, such as Jade Yoga Mats which give back to the earth by planting a tree with each mat purchased. Yoga can be a powerful tool for raising awareness about environmental issues. Yoga practitioners can use their platforms to advocate for environmental causes and inspire others to take action.
There are many ways to align your yoga practice with environmentalism. Let’s explore how yoga and environmentalism intersect, diving into yoga teachers from around the world’s perspectives, advice, and tips for becoming a more environmentally conscious yoga teacher or practitioner.
Environmental awareness in yoga with the yamas
“One of the yamas is ahimsa, or non-harming. Yoga practitioners can engage in reflection on their daily actions and habits and contemplate questions like: “How can I change my daily habits and actions to create less harm towards the environment?
Another Yama is brahmacharya, which is often translated as moderation. Practitioners can apply this yama off the mat by reflecting on how and where more moderation in their own lives could help the environment. This could be something as simple as biking to work twice a week instead of driving every day, for example. Another of the 5 yamas is aparigraha or non-greediness. Practitioners can apply this practice off the mat by reflecting on what they might be taking or consuming a lot of that is harmful to the earth and instead focus on giving back to the Earth through replacement behaviors and products, habit changes, or service. This could also look like asking ourselves, “Do I really need this item that I want when I already have 5 of these?” before making purchases. (not the best example)
In terms of sustainability, studios, and communities can be more sustainable by encouraging folks to bring reusable water bottles and providing water filling stations in studios, by partnering with local non-profit organizations working in environmentalism in their communities to host fundraiser classes and build awareness, and by using refillable spray bottles and reusable rags for wiping down mats and props at the end of class instead of something like disposable cleaning wipes.
I think a lot of it comes down to intentionality and awareness when we are on our mats and off. Yoga is not just something we practice on our mats, and I would encourage practitioners to think about how they can apply the yamas and the same attention and awareness that they apply when they’re moving through postures on their mats to their actions outside of the studio. If they’re practicing yoga but then going through 3-4 different plastic bottles a day, for example, there’s a disconnect..” – Emily Fleming. She received her yoga training at Sianna Sherman Courses. Connect with Emily: www.emilyflemingyoga.com
Environmental awareness in yoga starts on the mat itself!
“Not all yoga mats are created equally. Some yoga mats are more environmentally-friendly or contain recycled materials. Practicing yoga on a mat that isn’t at odds with environmentalism is a good starting point for aligning a daily routine or regular yoga practice with environmentalism.
Yoga studios can be more environmentally conscious by opting to offer more sustainable yoga mats to their students. For example, I recently taught at a yoga studio in Paris that had Jade Yoga Mats available for student use. This yoga mat brand gives back to the earth (plants a tree) with each mat purchased and also makes mats using more sustainable materials. I’m a big fan of this yoga mat brand.” – Julie Tower-Pierce. Connect with Julie: Naked Earth Yoga
Yoga practitioners incorporate environmental awareness by becoming mindful of their own impact on the environment
“Yoga practitioners can incorporate environmental awareness into their practice by becoming mindful of their own impact on the environment. This can include using eco-friendly yoga mats and props, conserving energy and water during their practice, and making eco-conscious choices in their daily lives both on and off the mat. Practicing yoga in nature, such as in a park or on the beach, can also deepen our connection to the environment and inspire us to be more mindful of our impact.
Many yogic principles emphasize the interconnection and interdependence of all beings, and encourage us to live in harmony with nature. The yamas and niyamas, the ethical principles of yoga, include ahimsa (non-harming), satya (truthfulness), and aparigraha (non-possessiveness), which all support sustainable living and environmental protection.
Yoga studios and communities can incorporate sustainability into their operations by using eco-friendly materials, reducing waste, conserving energy and water, and promoting environmental awareness through events and outreach. This is something that was especially important to me when creating Apeiron. All of our yoga mats are made from recycled tree rubber and are 100% biodegradable without any environmentally harmful phthalates or chemicals.
Yoga can be a powerful tool for raising awareness about environmental issues. Yoga classes and events can be themed around environmentalism, with guided meditations and discussions on sustainable living. Yoga practitioners can also use their platforms to advocate for environmental causes and inspire others to take action.”- Adam Binder, Founder of Apeiron Yoga. Received his training from Yoga Nine. Connect with Adam: Infinity in a second
Yogic principles align with environmentalism: Samadhi (Bliss or Enlightenment)
“One of my favorite yogic principles that aligns with environmentalism is the concept of Samadhi (Bliss or Enlightenment). When a person reaches the state of Samadhi, s/he is awakened to the reality that all matter and all energy is not just derived from—but actually is—the same Source. Not only is every object, animate and inanimate, made of the same exact scientific building blocks (atoms and molecules), but there is truly nothing but our physical bodies/existence that separates us in any way from all of creation. Samadhi is the realization that I am not just created by God (like a piece of art that stands free of the artist), but I am God in every cell and every ounce of my being. When I move past the egotistical view of self and evolve into true ownership of Self, of shared consciousness and being, I am able to understand that to hurt anything or anyone is to truly hurt myself. As yoga practitioners, the attainment (or even seeking) of Samadhi, guided by the nonviolence of Ahimsa (the first and most fundamental of the Yamas), creates undeniable stewardship that necessitates we take care of Mother Earth and all aspects of the Universe as we would take care of ourselves and our own well-being.”- Shana Meyerson. Owner of YOGAthletica. Connect with Shana: @yogathletica
Unite with your greater nature in yoga
“Yoga means to yoke or unite. This uniting can be within oneself, with our greater nature as in our environment or the whole of the universe. We are made of the earth. We are nature. When we no longer see nature or our environment as separate from ourselves, we become more aware of it. Doing yoga outside is phenomenal for connection with our elemental aspects. When inside due to weather, with plants and the elements represented in the space.
“From sustainable cork flooring and clay-based paint to having to bike into practice, what I’ve found truly matters is, being sustainable within. Then the outer actions ripple out into the community naturally, spontaneously and easily.” -Nicole Collard. She received her yoga training Go Bodhi Yoga. Connect with her: Nicole Collard.
Yoga and Ayurveda teach that humans are a microcosm of the entire universe
“Yoga and Ayurveda teach that humans are a microcosm of the entire universe. A wave, though it appears unique, is neither different nor separate from the ocean itself. And just as the wave is made up of the same materials as the ocean, so too are people born of the same minerals and elements that form a mountain, river, or tree.
Patanjali, the ancient author of the Yoga Sutras, wrote that people cause harm because we don’t know our true identity. We think of ourselves as the wave, separated from the whole and in competition with all the other waves. But through yoga practice, we remember who we really are: One spirit (the ocean) manifesting as many selves (the waves). To harm anything in the natural world, therefore, is to harm oneself.” – Micheal Simpson. Received his training at Powerflow Yoga. Connect with him: @mikenotbart or Powerflow Yoga
Ashtanga yoga teaches compassion and nonviolence to all living creatures
“One of the central tenets of Ashtanga yoga (the style we teach at All Yoga), is Ahimsa, which roughly translates to ‘compassion and nonviolence to all living creatures’. Ahimsa is a cornerstone, not only of yoga, but also of Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism, and is considered one of the most important ethical codes we should follow if we want to attain enlightenment and inner peace. Practicing Ahimsa means reminding ourselves to always respond to any situation or individual (including ourselves) with compassion, but it also means thinking about the ways in which our actions and decisions may bring violence or harm to others. It’s not a great leap to extend this principle to the Earth herself, since we can’t separate life from Earth – we wouldn’t exist without her! What harms her, harms us too. We can apply Ahimsa to all areas of our lives, which means thinking about how we can shop, work, eat, and live in a way that causes the least violence to ourselves (our bodies and our health), other animals, and the Earth herself. Asking such questions is just as much a part of yoga as doing our daily sun salutations. Ahimsa therefore encourages us to take our yoga off the mat, turning yoga into a tool to help protect life and the Earth”. – Charlotte Hay. She received her training from All Yoga Training. Connect with Her: Dr. Charlotte Hay
How Yoga Can Inspire Environmental Consciousness
Environmental awareness in yoga is not only about being mindful of our impact on the environment but also about using our practice to raise awareness about environmental issues and inspire action. We can incorporate environmental themes into our yoga classes and events to educate and inspire our students to become more eco-conscious. Yoga studios and communities can also play a role in promoting sustainability and raising awareness about environmental issues. By using our yoga practice creatively and intentionally, we can create positive change for the planet.
For yoga practitioners looking to make a positive impact on the environment, there are many small steps we can take. We can use eco-friendly yoga mats and props, practice yoga in nature, and reflect on the yamas and niyamas to become more mindful of our actions both on and off the mat. By applying intentionality and awareness to our practice, we can make a significant difference for the planet.
What can you do to practice eco-friendly yoga or to make your practices align more with green living? We would love to hear your thoughts! Please get in touch with us on social media!
Originally seen in Wild Yoga Tribe Blog