How is yoga good for the environment? by Amarjyothi
Yoga does many things to you and your body. Most of them are considered positive.
And as with any spiritual discipline, practicing yoga brings a deep appreciation of what nurtures and sustains us. The more time we can spend touching upon our spirituality, the more we care about the stuff in our lives, whether it be our bodies, our relationships or our environment. Yoga works on three levels ; physical, energetic and mental Body: If we just stay on the level of the body, an asana practice will begin to increase your sensitivity. It atunes your eyes, ears, nose mouth and skin. Its like tuning an instrument, which is a very physical thing, like how one turns the screws on a piano, or those things on a guitar- this is how asanas work on us. Asanas are detoxifying. Toxins sometimes act like an amoure. They hold reality out. Like the real taste of a jersey peach versus a canned delmonte peach. The more toxins you release, the more sensitive you are. The more sensitive you are, the more interested you are in what you put in your body, on your body, and how you move your body through the environment.
Sense of smell may be the first thing that intensifies and you may find the manufactured scents of shampoos and cleaning products do not jive well with your now tuned instrument.
You may begin to question what touches you, clothing, fabrication, furniture etc. You will desire more of what is considered green. It is almost like your body wants premium rather than regular gas, and while it may seem more expensive, you become more efficient over the long range. And really then you will need less of the expensive stuff for you to be satisfied. Energetically- One of the first tenets of yoga practice is called ahimsa, it is the first of 10, called the yamas and the niyamas. We know about ahimsa from Gandhi, as he showed us what is possible through practicing Non- violence.
There is so much harm we cause in the world, in the environment, from what we eat, the waste we create, the litter we may absentmindedly throw on the ground, The recycling that ends accidentally ends up in the garbage, idling our cars unnecessarily, running water without reason. As your body becomes more sensitive, you find yourself less and less capable of causing harm. The vibration just doesn't fit any more. your attuned energetic body will send a stronger signal to you that you are causing harm. One that you might not have heard before, when your ears were not as sensitive.
Ahimsa is the reason many yoga practitioners are vegetarians. People may choose not to contribute to the inhumane and violent way animals are treated in the meat industry, or may not want to cause the death of an animal at all, regardless of the method of slaughter. This has a ripple effect. A vegetarian diet requires less energy to produce and preserves our resources.
The next 4 tenets we are going to talk about today we can say are more on the mind level. They may seem to require an intellectual component, known as self inquiry.
The next tenet of yoga practice is called Satya, or truthfulness. Through observing Satya, we are asked to look truthfully at how we cause violence, in all areas of our life. Violence can be done subtly through words and thoughts, or more overtly through littering, polluting and vandalism. We can use our minds to either cause harm or not cause harm. Harm will always ripple thru to the ultimate container- which is our earth. Even if harm is targeted at another person, or object, the earth will suffer. Let's say you spray roundup on your weeds to get rid of them aggressively, you know who suffers. In this example it's obvious how the earth literally absorbs our arrows.
Following that is non-stealing (Asteya). Asteya teaches us to take only what is given freely. The Earth gives what is needed to sustain life at its basic level. We can ask ourselves here, Where do we demand more, and does that demand require us to steal from Mother Nature or others?
Bramachariya asks us to look for the Divine in everything. If we saw the Divine everywhere, there is no way we could hurt the earth knowingly through misuse and excess.
If practicing Aparigraha, or non-greed or hoarding, we are satisfied with what we have and allow the natural flow of the universe to be a part of our lives. We don’t hoard for fear we will not have enough, if we believe the Earth will provide for our needs. We don’t try to acquire what it is we do not truly need. Satya and Ahimsa, the first two tenets, can be used here again to evaluate what is actual need, and what is simply desire that could cause harm in the acquisition.
These 5 tenets are called the Yamas, or observances. These are part of the 10 ethical precepts in yoga, steps that are actually required, according to classical yoga as outlined by patanjali in 400 BC, before any asana is done. I just read them referred to as precepts for social discipline, which I like because it implies this is not just about US. When these guidelines are followed, we enter into a relationship with our fellow beings and the earth That is based on respect, a vow to constantly observe our actions (because we want to), and even a sense of devotion. We end up wanting to give back to the earth because of the recognition of what mother earth has given us.
So that was maybe too philosophical, and we can be more to the point. People who practice yoga are generally calmer, happier, better rested, and so will have a tendency to be more observant of their surroundings. They don’t have to spend a lot of energy being miserable, because they are not. And it does in fact take some energy to be miserable, does it not? But Back to our yoga practitioner, It takes an observant person, who can see what is best for the relationship with their surroundings and what is most harmonious, to help shift things, whether in their own household, or in the society at large. It is a harmonious relationship that appeals to the highly sensitive body, that doesn’t grate on the energetic body by feeling “wrong”, and satisfies the mental body as the thoughts are not disturbed by contradictory actions. And it is the strong desire for a harmonious relationship that helps positive change come about. Change that feeds and heals not only the earth, but also our own bodies and minds.
Even if we never read the texts that outline the Yamas, (for sale at the yoga loka booth) and even if we never heard them spoken about, as we continue to get more and more in touch with our bodies through the physical practices, the more these observances come to us, like an idea once heard and now remembered.
What created our bodies is the same force that created the earth. Keeping ourselves healthy means we will be able to honor and serve that force for a longer period of time. And the yogis say that the best way to burn karma quickly, is to be in service to others.