At an age where we are quite frankly, ripening, we no longer seem to desire every holiday of the year to be just drinking and dancing until the very early hours of the morning, only to repeat the night again 10 hours later. It seems that as we move away from our teens and budding twenties into our too-close-to-thirties we'd much rather head out for a long walk in the countryside followed by a few beers and a pub dinner, or enjoy a week by the Mediterranean where we spend each day swimming, kayaking and cycling coastal paths; each evening delighting in local food ending with a nightcap on the balcony at 10pm. In fact, now, putting on your out of office and heading off to a distant location for a yoga retreat is what many of us are dreaming of.
Think open air treetop studios, green juice on tap and spa treatments galore. Here, the destination is key. I don't know about you, but for me the phrase "yoga retreat" conjures up images of tropical jungle, secluded beaches, simple yet comfortable accommodation with those hammocks that I bet I’d never be able to get in and a breakfast bar full of fruits and grains. So what if all those dreamy retreat locations disappear before we get a chance to get our holidays signed off by our bosses? What happens if they begin to degrade and eventually no longer exist as bubbles of paradise? Or, what if we begin to integrate sustainability into daily life and manage to preserve these idyllic hotspots for years to come?
Sustainability and yoga? Really?
Yes, really. The practice of yoga fosters metta (loving kindness) for ourselves and the earth so it is much more than strengthening your core and finding inner peace. Historically, yoga was developed alongside a close relationship with the earth and cosmos and a deep recognition for animals, plants, soil, water and air. Thus, maintaining the sustainability of these is integral to the practice of yoga in any form. If we are to forge a sustainable future for generations to come we must re-establish a balance with nature and the practice of yoga enables us to create that connection through mind and body by transporting us away from the frenzied lives we lead. Sustainability in yoga practice can lead to a more sustainable life, with a big part of this being the prioritisation of ourselves, without over-indulging of course.
But how to start? For now, let’s begin with the basics. One of the primary human staples that link yoga and sustainability is food. There's no denying that food makes us happy, yet which foods make us happy change as we grow up and learn about which foods are good for us. Having a balanced diet that includes healthy sustainably-sourced foods is more likely to make us happy than bingeing on unhealthy foods. We should be giving ourselves the right fuel. Yoga trains us to be mindful and establishing mindful eating habits and being conscious of where our food comes from leads to improved health and a more sustainable lifestyle. Although this doesn't mean we can't treat ourselves to a burger every now and then...!
The Sun - Surya Namaskar: the sun salutation poses lengthen and strengthen, flex and extend many of the key muscles of the body while distributing the prana flow throughout the system. The sequence awakens the energy of the Inner Sun that lays dormant in our navel centre.
The Moon - Chandra Namaskara: the moon salutation poses create a cooling flow of movement that quietens the mind and body. Lunar energy is inwardly focussed and can teach us to slow down, listen to our own needs, and be receptive to change.
The Sea - Samundra Namaskar: these poses follow a rolling motion, like the ocean itself, which are beneficial for building strength and flexibility and also connecting to the breath to quiet the mind.
The Sky - Megha Namaskar: the cloud salutation poses are a great way to move with the flow of life when it is quiet, or when you need to build some calm into your life. Yoga incorporates rules for living, and all of these have a positive effect on the Earth. By addressing honesty, over-indulgence and instilling a greater awareness of nature and the circular engagement between humans and the environment, yoga can help us to embody a sustainable lifestyle. By Rebecca Dallimore
Rebecca is a self-confessed environmental nerd, experimental seamstress, photography fiend and burger junkie. With a background in environmental management and nearly 5 years working in international sustainability she has an abundance of knowledge in both personal and business sustainability initiatives.Rebecca is also author of The Ethical Edition an addictive, inspirational, eco-living blog: rebeccaldallimore.wordpress.com.