Another Shade of Green
Today, as the skies and waters are becoming more and more polluted and global warming has become scientifically documented, there is a opportunity for individuals, communities, businesses and governments to step forward and take measures towards practicing more environmentally sustainable and responsible ways of being. Earth’s life systems are in danger. If humanity is to survive, we must learn to live in balance with nature. Now is the time to cleanse and heal the earth and to establish a sustainable relationship with the environment for generations to come.
As yoga practitioners, there are ways to choose earth friendly products, policies and philosophies that will provide a truckload of inspiration and direction for the rest of the world to follow. Historically, Yoga developed in the context of a close relationship with the earth and cosmos and a profound reverence for animals, plants, soil, water, and air. The health of our bodies depends on clean air, clean water, and clean food. Yoga is grounded in an understanding of this interconnection.
What you can do:
What can an individual Yoga practitioner do be more loving to the earth?
Let’s start with food. One of the greatest things that we can do for the planet is to eat more of a plant based vegetarian diet. Less of our natural resources are expended in the cultivation of plant based foods as compared to the livestock industry of cattle, pigs, chicken and fish.. Organic foods are healthy for the earth by not using harmful pesticides, antibiotics and fertilizers. As organic foods have become more popular over the last few years, they have generally become more affordable. Organic foods usually taste better as well.
Remember the big picture. Give thanks for the food itself and honor who grew it and where it came from. This simple act of gratitude is powerful and timeless. Be happy that you are able to have food. Many around the globe are hungry and malnourished at this very moment.
Recently, many earth friendly yoga products have arrived on the market. Non toxic, non PVC (polyvinyl chloride) yoga mats were quite rare 3 years ago, but now there are several types of natural yoga mats to choose from, made with a variety of materials, such as natural rubber, jute, cork and cotton. The cotton industry is one of the planet’s largest polluters. Organic cotton and hemp clothing are more available than ever before. Some industry leaders in organic yoga wear are Natural High Lifestyle and Inner Waves Organics (www.naturalhighlifestyle.com, www.innerwavesmaui.com)
Recycling is a fantastic and contagious practice. Try to stop using plastic by using cloth shopping bags, reuse paper & plastic bags. Bring your own coffee to go cup or thermos to the café. If your Yoga studio is not recycling all those plastic water bottles that they sell, make a suggestion that they start a recycling program. At home or at the office, install a water filtration system and fill your water bottle instead of buying water in plastic bottles. Be a leader in your community and lead by example.
Support those who support the earth. We vote with our green energy called money. Support what you believe in even if the product costs a tiny bit more. Give and donate money to individuals and groups who are working hard for environmental justice like Greenpeace and Julia Butterfly Hill’s Circle of Life Foundation. (www.greenpeace.org , www.circleoflifefoundation.org)
Connect with the source of creation by getting out into Nature. Working in cities, we often forget the majesty and beauty of Nature itself. Go for a hike. Practice Yoga in the woods. Smell the forest and the ocean. Bathe in the sun. Let go of the mind as you become absorbed by the experience of being alive in nature.
In 2004 a non profit organization called The Green Yoga Association was founded in San Francisco, California by Laura Cornell to facilitate a deeper relationship between the historical roots of Yoga and the modern day environmental movement. In 2005, the group hosted the First International Green Yoga Conference in Santa Cruz California and Launched it’s Green Yoga Studio Pilot Program.
Under the Green Yoga Studio Pilot Program, 21 Yoga studios across the United States have adopted policies, practices and products that are sustainable and earth friendly. For example: bamboo flooring, non-toxic paint, using recycled paper and soy ink for printing, creating in house recycling programs, carrying organic clothing and selling non toxic Yoga mats. The program is already a huge success as there is a international waiting list for studios wishing to be included in the 2nd wave of the program. Program director, David Lurey of Greenpath Yoga Studio in San Francisco states, “Our main intention is to provide studio owners and directors with resources and support as they provide models and inspiration for other types of businesses around the world. We want to show people that this can be done and we are here to guide and support businesses with the greening process one step at a time.”
The Green Yoga Association’s mission intentions are as follows:
- Educate ourselves about the needs of the biosphere as a whole and our local ecosystems in particular.
- Cultivate an appreciation for and conscious connection with the natural environments in which we live, including animals, plants, soil, water, and air.
- Include care for the environment in our discussion of Yogic ethical practices.
- Commit ourselves to policies, products, and actions that minimize environmental harm and maximize environmental benefit.
And if we are Yoga teachers or centers, we will incorporate these commitments into our work with students
For more information, www.greenyoga.org