How can Yoga teaches us ways to live more sustainably?
Let’s start with the basics.
Being mindful is part of a sustainable lifestyle since it’s about being highly present with one’s surroundings, and aware of the personal impact on society, environment while acknowledging the consequences of each step and action.
🧘🏻♀️Let’s define what yoga is and how it can lead to sustainable living
Yoga is an ancient practice that creates a divine union between mind, body and spirit. In Sanskrit, yoga means “to unite”.
Most people know the “asanas” which are the physical postures of yoga. But this is just one aspect of yoga.
In the book “The Yoga Sutras,” Patanjali, a sage in ancient India, described eight limbs of yoga, where the physical practice (Asana) is just the third limb. There are also Yamas, Niyamas, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi.
Each limb of yoga has its purpose and helps live life with more integrity, self-discipline, harmony, and respect for others and nature, and connection to spiritual aspects of life.
🧘🏻♀️What you need to know about the Yamas and Niyamas practices and sustainability
In this article, we will cover only two limbs of yoga the Yamas and the Niyamas and find the application of those yoga practices in sustainability.
🧘🏻♀️The Yamas is the first limb of yoga, and it is about vows, discipline, views, and practices focused on interaction with the rest of the world.
There are 5 Yamas:
1. Ahimsa means ‘non-violence, and it means not harming other living beings, ourselves or nature, neither physically nor with negative inner thoughts.
The application of Ahimsa could be in eating less meat, eating organically, or trying to be vegan or vegetarian. We can also apply it by choosing products that have been manufactured responsibly by sustainable brands with fair labor practices.
2. Satya (‘Sat’=’true nature,’ “true essence) encourages people to be honest and truthful in their words and actions.
As sustainable development requires changes in the personal routines and habits to adopt environmentally focused practices, it often feels hard for human beings to change their daily routines. With Satya’s yoga practices people could more easily realize that they have the capacity and time to try sustainable living and take the first steps.
3. Asteya translates as ‘non-stealing” and refers to non-stealing physical possessions from others and avoiding greed and craving for unnecessary things. The application for Asteya in sustainability would be seen in reducing overall consumption of goods and buying only those things that are genuinely needed.
4. Brahmacharya translates the right use of energy or “behavior that leads to Brahman,” meaning the behavior that leads to Divine. It focuses on distributing and using energy not to satisfy external desires and pleasures but rather towards finding inner peace and happiness within ourselves.
5. Aparigraha translates as ‘non-greed, ‘non-possessiveness, and it teaches us to take what we need, avoid accumulating excess, and let go of things that no longer serve us. The wisdom is to enjoy the process, the journey, and not be attached to the results. Hoarding can be avoided by sharing possessions with others, either by donating them to second-hand shops or charity organizations.
🧘🏻♀️The Niyamas is the second limb of yoga and it refers to duties directed towards ourselves - inner observances. They are intended to help us build character.
There are 5 Niyamas:
1. Saucha translates to cleanliness. Not only the physical one, but it can also be getting rid of the habits that do not serve us anymore. The application of Saucha in sustainability can be changing our shopping behavior from impulsive to conscious and buying what we need instead of what we want.
2. Santosha means contentment. It encourages us to accept and appreciate what we have and what we are, right now. Happiness comes from littles things when taking care of ourselves!
3. Tapas that can be translated to discipline. It helps us cultivate a sense of self discipline, passion and courage. Tapas has many meanings and how it’s expressed in you can be different to someone else’s experience.
4. Svadhyaya literally means ‘one’s own reading’ or ‘self study’. It also encourages us to further educate ourselves in whatever inspires and fascinates us, deepening our own knowledge. For us, it is happening everyday with GREENA, we are learning everyday something new that can help us be more sustainable.
5. Isvara Pranidhana may be interpreted to ‘surrendering to a higher power’ or simply letting go of our expectations. Do our best, be authentic and live life fully. Keeping it simple and minimalistic all the way!
🧘🏻♀️Since I started my journey towards a sustainable lifestyle, I try to incorporate all the practices that can help me fully live this path.
This is why, last weekend, I treat myself with one of the best well-being experiences I ever had. I participated for the first time in a yoga retreat hosted by the best Vivi the Yogi 💗
The weekend was all about Yoga, Meditation and Breath-work!
The retreat was based on the third Yogic principle of the Niyamas: ‘Tapas’ , that means self-discipline which is the most beautiful forms of self-love.
Self-Discipline is finding the balance in our life and enjoying taking care of ourselves while applying practices like Yoga and Meditation.
It is also learning how to let go of the behaviors & patterns that no longer serve us.
After that weekend, I feel empowered yet relaxed, determined yet balanced and most importantly, I feel grateful!
🧘🏻♀️The retreat took place in the beautiful bio hotel balance, in the heart of Valais! It is a unique hotel surrounded by nature and calmness.
Also, it is close to many hiking trails, on Saturday afternoon we enjoyed a quick one to the “Gorges de Dailley”.
Taking care of ourselves while being on the sustainable path can come in different forms and shapes, choose yours and start today! It is never too late 🌸