Modern day yoga is so often squeezed into a 30 minute gym slot. Commercialised and misunderstood. But if you look beyond the physical practice of yoga, sustainability has a strong part to play in yoga.
A sustainable life creates peace among us. It allows us to live in equilibrium with all life and the Earth we call home. Yoga is, similarly, a sustainable practice that teaches us awareness and provides a set of guidelines for us to live a life in harmony with the universe.
Let’s dive into this a little deeper.
A common misconception of yoga is that it starts and ends with the body. The perception has become acrobatics, physical abilities, headstands and sunsets, overpriced protein shakes and expensive leggings. But the true meaning of yoga is actually ‘union’.
This union can be interpreted in many ways and is often said to be a body/mind union. However, ancient yogic texts such as Patanjali’s Sutras suggest that there is a deeper connection in yoga. That is the connection between the body, mind, soul and spirit (the universe.)
Patanjali’s Sutras have been around for thousands of years, although the exact date of writing is unknown. Not much is known about Patanjali either: he may have been one sage, or a group of people whose collective teachings were written into existence by their students. He is, however, credited as being the father of modern day yoga.
“Lokah Samastah Sukinho Bhavantu: May all beings be happy and free”
- Yoga Mantra
By bringing our awareness to our connection with the universe, it is clear to see that we need to protect and nurture the planet that we live on.
When we take yoga beyond the mat - as it was meant to be - yoga has the potential to be a catalyst for environmental sustainability within our communities.
By reducing the amount of the Earth's natural resources that we use, replenishing wherever we can and minimising the pollution that we cause, we can care for the world in a way that will affect future generations and the world they will live on. That, in itself, is practicing yoga.
So here are 8 tips put together by our wellness blogger and current yoga teacher trainee Kendall to help you move towards a more sustainable lifestyle.
Sustainable Yoga tip #1 Reduce, Re-use, Recycle
Probably not the first time you’ve heard this one and it won’t be the last. By reducing the food we buy, the clothes, products, everything and learning to reuse and recycle more, we can save money and help the environment by cutting down on manufacturing pollution.
We live in a society where we are constantly bombarded with adverts convincing us to buy, buy, buy! This is particularly true in the yoga world, where fashions and trends in yoga clothing, props and other related items are constantly popping up on our instagram feeds. But you don’t need to be kitted out in Lululemon to practice yoga. You don’t need expensive props or the best mat on the market. Yoga is always accessible to you, at any budget, at any place in your life.
If you regularly burn through your yoga mat, try using a towel over it to protect it from damage when you sweat.
Need an update to your yoga wardrobe? Why not organise a yoga clothes swap in your community or check second hand stores - you can often find some yoga fashion gems at a fraction of the cost by shopping second hand.
Keen for new props? You may already have some good options at home. A belt or dressing gown tie sub in well for yoga belts. Books also work well as blocks.
Sustainable Yoga tip #2 Eat Locally
Food can have a huge carbon impact. It’s not uncommon for bananas grown in the Dominican Republic to be packed into plastic bags in Thailand and then shipped out to the UK from there! Many food suppliers make decisions based on cost, not benefits for the environment!
When available, opt to eat locally and when buying everyday products, look for the fair trade certification. That way you know that what you are buying has been sourced sustainably and that the workers are being treated and paid fairly for it.
Sustainable Yoga tip #3 Get A Reusable Water Bottle
Skip the plastic bottles and get your own reusable bottle.
Drink more tap water too. Bottled water companies need you to think they are better than tap water, otherwise, who would buy them? Tap water has been tested and it is often reported that it's better than bottled water anyway!
If you need to refill your bottle when you are out, there are now many apps that will let you find places where you can refill your water for free! Check out Findtap and Refillmybottle. Never pay for water again!