Yoga and Sustainability: The Interwoven Lichen of a Sustenance Phenomenon.
What pictures come to your mind when you hear the term ‘Yoga’? The first image would be of Asanas or postures. Another would be of someone sitting on a yoga mat and doing these asanas! Yoga is well-known as a practice for self-improvement on physical, mental, and spiritual levels. However, this is just one aspect of yoga and this practice has more to offer than we know. And although this might sound strange, maintaining ecological balance is a more important part of the yogic lifestyle than one might think.
The original teachings of yoga include ethical practices mind, and this also applies to our ways of treating the environment. Here’s our article to explore the application of yoga practices to sustainability and how it is an important part of sustainable living. Before we jump into this, we must know about Yoga and sustainable living.
Yoga is a very old practice having its roots in ancient India, accumulating physical, spiritual, and mental practices. Yoga means “to yoke” or “to unite”. Yoga creates a divine union of mind, body, and soul. It is an important part of leading a healthy and peaceful life. Yoga teaches you to be fully present in your surroundings, to be aware of personal effects on social and environmental issues, and to accept the responsibility of each process and action.
Sustainable living is basically a way of life that aims to minimize one’s personal carbon footprint while also minimizing environmental damage. Making eco-friendly lifestyle choices and developing sustainable habits allows someone to live sustainably. Sustainable development is satisfying or fulfilling the present needs without putting the needs of the upcoming generations in danger.
How are Yoga and Sustainability related?
Yoga’s main objective is to purify the mind and body to achieve moksha or enlightenment. Yes, strength-building postures are essential, but yoga is a much wider field that incorporates ethical values that can be used to guide one’s daily life. Ahimsa, which means non-violence, is a principle of yoga. Veganism enables its followers to walk the path of ahimsa by eliminating the harm that’s caused by mankind to the helpless animals. It may appear to be a heavy burden, but small acts of kindness can go a fair distance toward practicing ahimsa. Regular meditation practice is one process, as it is regarded as self-care, which is essential when serving others. We should express gratitude both on and off the mat.
When we talk about yoga’s nonviolence and its application in a sustainable life, we are doing so in a variety of ways in terms of our relationship with the environment. For example, refusing a dish containing meat can have a cascading impact on the planet and its dwellers. Reducing consumption of meat or going vegetarian brings a reduction in the amount of harm done to animals. A decline in consumption of animal products leads to an increase in the accessibility of grains that can be used to feed the hungry. When these acts of nonviolence are combined, they have a direct and positive influence on environmental sustainability.
Another important concept that we can integrate into our treatment of the environment is aparigraha or non-possessiveness. It entails examining how we assign meaning to objects and consume them. We need to think before we buy anything and not just throw it away because we want something new. Our trash ends up in landfills or, even worse, pollutes our hills, oceans, and even cities. It’s important to remember that the non-possessiveness runs counter to the idea of purchasing new clothes or other items regularly. Stick to the clothes you already own to save natural resources and avoid making a contribution to our planet’s worrying plastic pollution.
Outreach and Omniscience of Yoga’s Applications:
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, written nearly two thousand years ago, describe yoga as having eight “limbs” or steps (Ashtanga meaning eight limbs in Sanskrit). The third limb is the physical practice, also called asana. The descriptions start with yamas and niyamas which translate as the modes and morals along with the principles that one lives their life by. Each limb of yoga serves a purpose and assists in living a life of greater integrity, self-discipline, unity, and respect towards others and nature, as well as the ability to connect to spiritual aspects of life. The Yamas and Niyamas are morally acceptable and personal principles for living in a mindful and peaceful manner.
Pranayama focuses on teaching breathing exercises to regulate the universe’s vital energy. Pratyahara means to focus or abandon the senses, Dharana means concentration, Dhyana means absorption and meditation, and Samadhi means self-transcendence. We will discuss Yamas and its practices, as well as the application of these yoga practices in sustainability.
Yama is the first limb of yoga and is concerned with vows, discipline, perspectives, and practices centered on communication with the entire world.
Ahimsa: Ahimsa is Sanskrit for “nonviolence,” which means not harming other living creatures or nature, either physically or mentally. Ahimsa can be practiced by eating less meat, eating naturally, or attempting to be vegan. We can also try to practice Ahimsa in sustainability by purchasing only the products that are made responsibly by sustainable companies using fair labor methods and practices.
Satya: Satya means truth and teaches people to live truthfully. “To one established in honesty, deeds and their results become subservient,” Patanjali wrote of Satya, implying that if we continue to practice honesty, our life experiences would become the plums of truth and honesty.
Since environmental sustainability necessitates differences in individual routines and habits in order to adopt environmentally focused practices, it is often difficult for humans to change their daily routines or rituals. People may be afraid or make excuses for not changing their habits. With the help of yoga, people could relatively easily realize the fact that they have the ability and opportunity to try to live a sustainable lifestyle and begin the journey with Satya.
Asteya: Asteya means “not stealing” and refers to not stealing external belongings from others and ignoring gluttony and yearning for useless things. Asteya’s application in sustainable practices would be seen in decreasing the overall consumption of resources and purchasing only those items that are truly needed.
Brahmacharya: Brahmacharya is a sanskrit word meaning “correct use of energy” or “behavior leading to divinity.” It focuses on disseminating and using energy to achieve peace and tranquility rather than satisfying outside needs and wants and pleasures.
Aparigraha: Aparigraha means “to have no greed” or “no possessiveness,”. Aparigraha teaches human kind to take only what is needed, not acquiring extra, and let the things go that do not meet our requirements anymore. The knowledge is to focus on the process, and the voyage, and not become fixated on the outcome. Stockpiling can be managed to avoid by wanting to share possessions with each other or making donations to second-hand stores or charitable organizations.
Yoga and its principles teach us all how to unite our mind, body, and soul, to be mindful of our environment, to be present, and to accept the possible consequences. Its teachings teach us that we are all connected to each other and we should make healthier choices that improve their lives both individually and as a group. Changes in diet, refusal of single-use plastics, and choosing sustainable clothing all have a significant impact on the environment. We rely on our surroundings for resources, and it is up to us to protect them. Yoga inspires us to make the world a better place by living a purposeful, conscious, and environmentally responsible life.