As a yogi, there are certain things that we should honor. We should be gentler first with ourselves and then to others. Yoga is not just about going into poses to become stronger and more flexible. While the practice does offer that to you, it also asks that we give back to our community and the earth. Part of the eight limbs of yoga includes many aspects of being conscious about the outside world we live in. We can often become very stuck just being in our heads. The world needs your help, and you are connected to it. It’s important to feel that and to help in the ways you can.
There are many beautiful ways that yoga can teach us about honoring mother earth. It starts from within.
Being Aware of Self
Yoga opens you up to the awareness of self. When you can learn to pay attention to your feelings and physical manifestations, you will also become aware of other things. If it upsets you to see garbage in the park, you can acknowledge why that upsets you. Someone has been deeply disrespectful to other people and also to nature. When you find out why that bothers you so much, you may come to realize how much the pristine nature that surrounds you actually means to you. Getting deep into the heart of things will help you do the right things in life. You’ll start to take action because you stand behind the feelings you identify.
Being Aware of the Energy that Surrounds You
When you’re inside of your mind all of the time, you don’t see what’s happening around you. Once you find that self-awareness, which is something a yoga class should help you with, you’ll want to look outside of yourself. You’ll begin to feel the connectedness that exists within every living thing. That includes the houseplant, a tree, other people around you, and a body of water. Awareness is the first step towards action. Once you are willing to open up to people and things that surround you, you’ll be more prone to care about those things.
The Reference of Nature in Yoga Classes
Many yoga teachers will theme their classes around nature. There are even many poses that mimic animals, mountains, the sun, and the moon. If you’re doing yoga classes regularly, you may begin to see nature in a new way. Perhaps seeing and acknowledging how precious it is. Appreciating a waterfall, a lake, or a creek a little more may promote an inner desire to preserve those things you love in nature.
The Yamas of Yoga
The Yamas of yoga is our outer environment and how we deal with it. They are the universal vows that include our actions, words, and thoughts. There are a few of the Yamas that indirectly tell us we should be kinder to all living things. Here are a few.
Ahimsa is non-violence. This includes physical, mental, or emotional violence to yourself or someone else. The Buddhist practice of compassion can be used to help create non-violence in life. You can be unkind to people and all the earth in many ways. It’s all about being compassionate.
There are many things we may want to take from nature. If you look at the reasons we go to a zoo, for example, we love an animal so much we want to see them. This comes at the cost of their freedom. It’s not the right way, and we must become conscious of not coveting things. When we are all willing to do this, there won’t be animals in captivity for our viewing pleasure. Even the simplest things like a bouquet are coveting something from nature. Yes, others do it too so the rose will be cut from the stem regardless. There is a wisdom in all of us; however, that knows, there is power in just one person who decides to make a difference. By cultivating the act of not coveting things, you give people the freedom to do so also.
Yoga Teaches Us to Do No Harm
One of the eight limbs of yoga is to do no harm. This is why Buddhist monks won’t even kill a mosquito or ants that have infiltrated their sleeping quartered. If you follow the teachings of this ancient practice, it’s essential that you don’t harm other living things. This is everything. This is the amount of water you use, how much you drive, what kind of car you drive, how you purchase (is there a lot of plastic on your purchase?). Being aware of what is going to harm the environment is an essential aspect of yoga, which will likely be talked about at one point or another.
Yoga is a beautiful practice for you to do. It is also a lifestyle that exists beyond the mat. Being conscious about how you treat mother earth will come up within the community. It is a large part of yoga since it’s inception into the world so many thousands of years ago. As you become more aware of yourself and the world around you, you’ll begin to see how you can help mother earth.
Guest post by Meera Watts
Meera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, CureJoy, FunTimesGuide, OMtimes and others. She’s also the founder and owner of Siddhi Yoga International a Singapore based company organzing yoga teacher training retreats worldwide. Meera is also among top 20 Yoga bloggers in the world as per Thoroughly Reviewed.