Yoga isn’t just a practice on the mat – it’s also a way of living. The philosophy of yoga has much more to offer than asanas and physical practice. In fact, it nearly seems like the yoga values, which are thousands of years old, were never as applicable as now – when we are one of the main reasons our planet is being destroyed. These yoga values can help us live a more sustainable life, in touch with nature.
The eight limbs of yoga have an incredible connection to sustainable living and nature preservation. The yamas teach us basic ethical standards to follow – not taking from nature what we can’t return, taking a non-violent approach, and more. The niyamas guide us towards self-discipline and spirituality, which includes respecting the earth and contemplating our connectedness to it.
We can also apply these values to be sustainable yogis on the mat, but before, let’s talk a little about how sustainability and yoga go together…
The peaceful way – a value overlap
In its essence, sustainability is the ability to sustain our world in its natural state – living in symbiosis with the rest of the world, rather than harming it. This peaceful, symbiotic approach is intertwined with yoga values and requires some fundamental understanding of ourselves, our needs and the world around us – something which the practice of yoga on and off the mat can help us reach.
A perfectly sustainable lifestyle largely overlaps with the ideal pursuit of yoga values – the minimising of our possessions and impacts on nature, as well as recognising the needs of others and nature alongside our own.
Sustainability on the mat
By applying these yoga values which intertwine with sustainability on the mat, we can become more sustainable in the physical practice of yoga. We think deeply about any gear or clothing we buy for our practice and its impact on the world. We also become more conscious of why we buy these items that help us in our practice in the first place.
Here are some examples of how yogi values can guide your practice on the mat as well:
Mat selection – we’ve covered this topic in a previous blog, but in a nutshell, it’s all about choosing a mat that’s either made from natural, compostable materials, or one with circular design.
Clothing selection – choose clothing made from natural fibres such as organic cotton or linen, rather than synthetics which are made from plastic and pollute the environment through their whole lifecycle.
Think twice before you buy a new piece of gear – is it necessary?
Let go of attachments to the material things. Perhaps all you need for your practice is a mat!
Do good by seeking yoga events which contribute to charities helping the environment.
Practice locally, rather than going on expensive yoga retreats which are damaging to the environment.
Practice online to reduce the environmental impact of travelling to the studio.
Refill your bottle rather than buying bottled water in single-use packaging.
Yoga values can help us live and practice sustainability on and off the mat – by promoting a more mindful approach to our world and our influence over it. If you’re just setting out on a sustainability journey, incorporating yoga values into it is a wonderful way to get started.
How do you connect yoga with sustainability?