Many of us will be familiar with the profound personal changes that can happen when we commit to a regular yoga practice. Perhaps your practice has helped ease out that niggling twinge in your back, or maybe its helped you recentre after a challenging day. The benefits of yoga are real, and unique to each of us. But it’s important to remember that these benefits are just part of the picture.
Yoga extends beyond the physical – the asanas, and the mastering of complex poses. To understand yoga fully is to realise that it has just as much relevance in our day-to-day lives as it does on the mat, even when it comes to learning how to save the planet.
With recent developments unfolding around the world (*cough* Paris Agreement *cough*) and celebrating World Environment Day this month, there’s no better time to explore what yoga can teach us about our connection to Mother Earth. But what can a bunch of stretches and yoga poses tell us about the environment?
A lot, actually.
When we dig a little deeper we begin to see the asanas, yoga poses, as a representation of balance. If we practice with too much flexibility and no strength we collapse, but with too much strength and no flexibility we are rigid. In our practice we’re always seeking that natural midway point that is neither forced nor weak.
Yoga can help us bring the concept of balance beyond the mat, and into the world around us. As our practice deepens, we naturally become more aware of finding our own ‘balance’ in the environment. We begin to see our daily habits for what they are, and how they impact the world around us.
Here are our tips on how to use yoga to guide us in strengthening our commitment to saving our beautiful planet:
1. Make the right food choices
When we commit to a regular practice, we naturally become more aware of our body and its needs. Reaching for the biscuit tin seems less appealing when we know it’s going to leave us feeling tired and groggy later on. That’s not to say there’s never going to be a place for that sugar fix, but on the whole we’ll want to make food choices that nourish us rather than simply “fill the gap”. Eating organic is important; not just for us, but for the world around us too. By avoiding a cocktail of artificial fertilizers and pesticides, the soil can stay healthy and rich in nutrients – just as it should be.
2. Improve your buying habits
Today’s consumer world means we are constantly buying new things. How many times have you thrown something away that could have been fixed? Becoming more mindful in our purchases doesn’t just help the environment, it’s also FUN. Thrifting, fixing, updating. Whatever it is – there’s a magic in giving something a new lease of life. Yoga teaches us to value simplicity. In creating space on our mat, we naturally want to create space around us too. And this means decluttering and waving goodbye to those unnecessary purchases. Next time you find yourself wavering over a purchase, take a moment to check-in and ask yourself if it’s something you really need.
3. Say no to plastic
Did you know 2 million plastic bags are used across the world every minute? Plastic bags have a devastating impact on the environment and stand as the perfect example of our throwaway society. It’s estimated that almost 50% of seabirds have either ingested or entangled themselves in plastic. Mistaken for food, animals either starve or suffocate on it. Remembering an extra carrier bag when you go shopping can be difficult – but it’s also crucial. Stick a note on the fridge, a reminder on your phone, a note on the dashboard. Whatever it is that will remind you of the importance to say no to plastic.
4. Go by foot
Walking is eco travel at its best. And let’s not forget, it’s also good for you! How many times have you jumped in the car instead of taking that 15 minute walk to the local shops? Granted, we can’t walk everywhere. But just cutting out those smaller trips can make a world of difference. What’s more, walking will give you an extra mood boost you won’t be getting stuck in a traffic jam.
As Mother Teresa said:
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples”. Making small changes to our daily habits might not seem like much, but over time these changes can create a big impact.
How has your yoga practice inspired you to become more environmentally friendly in your day-to-day life?
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