Recently, I have been thinking about the many ways environmental issues link to yoga. After taking lots of flights to get to my YTT in India, I began to question how the yoga community can give back to the environment.
In the eight limbs of yoga, the ancient philosopher Patanjali stated that Ahimsa (non-violence/harming) was a fundamental part of the yogic path. Non-voilence can be interpreted in many ways; eating good food to stay healthy, listening to a friend in need,
encouraging students to listen to their bodies, and in a broader sense protecting the environment.
Since being back the UK, I have been following the #zerowaste campaign which aims to obliterate the amount of household waste going to landfill. This is just one way that we can start to protect the earth we live on, and it all starts by making some conscious decisions.
For me, #zerowaste has also highlighted how detached I am about how damaging some of my habits are. It is so easy to believe the 'why bother, everyone else is doing it' or 'one person won't make a big difference'.
So I have come up with 3 intentions that I have found useful in giving back to The Earth. These choices may not be easy, but I have started to see them as akin to my yoga practice. Those days when yoga is the most effortful I get the most out of it. So too, these are effortful intentions, with great impact.
Research brands before you buy (yoga and non–yoga)
The difference between sustainably sourced yoga clothes, mats and accessories and non-sustainable items is huge. PVC yoga mats are part made of plastic, and if put into landfill will sit there for thousands of years, plus they have huge amounts of chemicals that seep into the surrounding land in the process. Contrastingly, mats made of cork, cotton and all-natural rubber are completely biodegradable. Some simple research goes a long way here!
Recycle your mat
As above, some mats can't biodegrade so should not be thrown away. Consider giving your old mat to a charity shop, local studio or a charitable organisation instead of throwing it in the bin. When you buy your new mat, make sure it can biodegrade!
Bring a reusable bottle to class
A simple one, but very effective. In the UK around 2 million water bottles are used daily, and some estimates only put 50% as recycled. If you need water in your yoga class, don't by plastic bottles en route. Be prepared and buy a metal or other reusable drinks bottle to take everywhere with you!
Yoga can help us see ourselves as one with the natural world, imagine the immense change we could help create if we put that oneness into action!