Yoga for many people is stretching. To others, it’s a workout. Some people practice yoga for spiritual or meditative purposes. Practicing yoga might even just be a good excuse to wear cute yoga pants or take a break from the daily stress of life!
Everyone does yoga for different reasons, however, there is a distinct “yoga culture” that you may have noticed, or may even consider yourself a part of. You know what I’m talkin’ about! You know those people you see in Whole Foods drinking green juice? Or that vegan girl at work who's always talking about hiking and good vibes? The socially, spiritually, and environmentally progressive culture that many yogis find themselves in--that’s what I mean by yoga culture.
But have you ever wondered why it is that so many people who practice yoga are a part of this eco-minded culture? It’s more than just a coincidence that yogis often live a sustainable lifestyle. It’s because yoga and sustainability go hand-in-hand, especially when you break down what it really means to practice yoga.
Now we all know that yoga is a physical practice, but the truth is, it’s so much more than that. Yoga wasn’t originally intended to be solely physical. It was meant to act as a catalyst to our journey of becoming a more aware person.
To get an idea of what kind of wisdom and awareness yoga can impart on us, let’s start with the meaning of the word “yoga” itself. Yoga is a Sanskrit term that means “to yoke”, which literally translates to “union.” People first began practicing yoga in Northern India over 5,000 years ago. Yogic scriptures say the practice of yoga leads to union of the individual consciousness with the universal consciousness, creating a harmony between man and nature. A person who experiences this oneness is said to be in yoga, and is called a “yogi.”
So when you think about it, the natural evolution of practicing yoga is living a sustainable lifestyle where you are aware of the effect you have on the environment around you. For yogis thousands of years ago, this may not have translated to being “sustainable.” But for us today, living a sustainable lifestyle is essential in order to be one with nature.
As we all know, humans have negatively impacted the planet in tremendous ways. We have used and abused our resources because of the mentality that we are separate from our surroundings. However, practicing yoga helps us see ourselves as a part of the bigger picture rather than as separate from it. And when we become an inseparable part of the greater whole, we can no longer turn a blind eye to how your actions impact the environment.
I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes. Something you could even use as a mantra in your yoga practice if you wanted to. “You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.” With this mindset, polluting the ocean (for the sake of sticking to the analogy) would be like polluting yourself. And none of us want that.
Shameless plug--if you’re feeling at one with mother earth and inspired to do something about it, there’s no better way to start than by investing in your very own Mother Erth bag. Not only will it make the perfect yoga tote, but it will prevent unnecessary plastic from entering the ocean and will empower women in developing countries. I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of a better way to practice unity and connection than helping the environment and people in need all at once.