HomeVolume 7April 2022 Yoga for the planet

How can Yoga help us take care of the planet? SANGEETA PADMANABHAN and BHUSHAN BHUKTE from the Heartfulness Yoga Academy explain the relationship between Yoga and the environment, and the simple practices that we can all do to cultivate sustainability and a regenerative attitude.

Reverence for Mother Earth

There is an ancient mantra dedicated to divine Mother Earth asking her for forgiveness for touching her with our feet. It is chanted first thing in the morning before getting out of bed, before placing our feet upon her:

Samudra-Vasane Devi Parvata-Stana-Mannddale |
Hari Priye Namas-Tubhyam Paada-Sparsham Kshamasva-Me ||

Salutations to Mother Earth, who has the oceans as her clothing
and mountains and jungles on her body. The Beloved of Hari (the Lord),
please forgive me for placing my feet upon you.

This beautiful chant shows the reverence and gratitude of the ancient yogis toward Mother Earth. We can all bring back this attitude into our lives.

Skill in action

Yogaha Karmasu Kaushalam||
Chapter 2, verse 50

In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna said that Yoga is skill in action. Yoga is not merely a set of physical exercises. Yoga is how skillfully you communicate and act in any given situation. As you grow on the path of Yoga you become less reactive and more proactive.

Another definition of Yoga is “Samatvam Yoga Uchyate” (Chapter 2, verse 48). Yoga is a balanced state of mind and body. The essence of Yoga is balance, not only within, but also in our relationship with all humanity and nature.

The Bhagavad Gita also teaches us that “not taking action in times of crisis is a form of violence.” Adopting a yogic lifestyle can teach us to live in harmony with ourselves, society and nature. This is of utmost relevance today to help us to combat climate change.

Yoga is a way of life

Adopting a yogic lifestyle provides us with powerful tools to bring about complete inner transformation.

The practice of the Yamas and Niyamas brings about this subtle but potent transformation. Non-violence (ahimsa), non-possessiveness (aparigraha), contentment (santosha), removal of impurities (tapas), and surrender to the ultimate (Ishwara pranidhana) are all powerful tools.

Through the practice of Yoga, we uncover our deepest intentions, values, and abilities. Through asteya (non stealing) we realize that we are stealing the future from generations to come. Through swadhyaya (introspection) we realize how our often innocent but thoughtless actions are harming the Earth.

Yoga on the mat and beyond

Our actions always begin with our personal practice. As practitioners of Yoga, we become aware that our bodies are made up of the elements, and that we breathe, eat, and drink what the Earth provides us. We are one with the Earth.

1. Let concepts be alive

When you are practicing asanas, are you able to find the delicate balance between getting into the pose, staying in the pose, and coming out of the pose, or are you taking too much effort which creates the wrong tension in the body? Are you practicing ahimsa and self-care on the mat?

Remember the concepts. Whatever you practice on the mat permeates your lifestyle, and extends much beyond the mat. If you practice ahimsa and self-care, you will share it with everyone and everything around you.

Lifestyle change:  Try to switch to a plant rich diet.

2. Visualize

Close your eyes and visualize the posture before entering each posture. When practicing a posture like Vrikshasana (tree pose), visualize that you are doing it perfectly. Your efforts are like the roots of the tree, holding you firm and tall, the trunk of the tree is your practice” It is said practice-practice-practice makes you perfect. The joy you feel in the posture is the crown of the tree.

“Look at a tree. It uses some water, cow dung for manure, sunlight, and gives you the best fruit.
Every intake in nature is minimal and we receive the best output.”
– Daaji

Lifestyle change:  Plant a tree, gift a tree, donate a tree!

3. Pause

Pause in the posture, scan your body. Bring complete  awareness to your  practice. As yogis we develop awareness. Remember that self-awareness on the mat permeates your lifestyle!

Lifestyle change: Practice the five Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rethink, Recover.

4. Breathe and Smile

Make sure you breathe and smile to relax. Long inhale, long exhale. Let the breath support your prana and let it flow generously from the heart to your entire body. Smile and be grateful to your body. Practicing Yoga makes us happier, kinder and compassionate.

Lifestyle change: Reduce food waste. Share your plenty with others who are in need.

5. Connect to your heart

Gently come out of the posture. Allow the prana to flow and observe the changes while being connected to your heart. Stay connected to your heart throughout the day to help you make choices, spend less energy and achieve more. Minimum input, maximum output.

Lifestyle change: Wherever possible, switch to natural sources of energy like solar and wind energy.

6. Body, mind and soul

Always end your Yoga practice with Heartfulness Relaxation and Meditation for a complete effect. Feel the energy of Mother Earth entering your body from the feet and supporting your entire system.

Lifestyle change:  Save water, save power.

Tadasana – Standing mountain pose

Vriksasana – Tree pose

Parvatasana – Grounded mountain pose

Vyaghrasana – Tiger pose

Through our asanas, like Tadasana, Vrikshasana, Parvatasana, and Vyaghrasana, we feel oneness with the mountains, trees, wildlife and all of nature. When we feel this oneness through our Yoga practice, then taking action for the planet becomes a part of our day-to-day life and our lifestyle changes accordingly. Our group practice becomes like a satsangh and we develop a sense of community. Our actions come from the heart.

“Whatever activity you are engaged in, take a detour via the heart. After all, who can resist the heart’s signals!” Daaji


Bhushan Bhukte & Sangeeta Padmanabhan

Bhushan Bhukte & Sangeeta Padmanabhan

Bhushan Bhukte is a certified Yoga trainer with an M.A. in Human Consciousness & Yogic Science from Gurukula Kangri Vishwavidyalaya in Haridwar. Bhushan is a full-time trainer in the Heartfulness Yoga Academy. He is known for helping others... Read More