In an interview with YogaJournal on the topic of green yoga, professor of Indic and comparative theology and director of the Yoga Philosophy program at Loyola Marymount University, Christopher Key Chapple, noted:
“Traditionally, all yoga practice was green, with yoga taught and practiced outdoors, perhaps under a tree, either with or without a yoga mat, which would have been made of straw.”
In any modern yoga class, you will be reminded of the practice’s roots in the natural environment. A “Sun Salutation” is meant to honor the gift of sun. Poses are given names taken from natural surroundings, such as a simple “Downward Dog” or a rarer “Feather of a Peacock.” These pose names give a nod to yoga’s beginnings in the Hindu culture.
Specifically, portions of the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu scripture most closely linked with the practice of yoga, encourage kind treatment of all animals. In the discussion, Krisha tells Arjuna that harm to one animal is harm to all. This is the basis for the vegetarianism practiced by some Hindus, as Krisha warns livestock is not to be separated from other types of animals. Each should be cared for and revered, as all animals know when another has been harmed.
Many Hindus and yogis practice vegetarianism today. Others choose to be conscious of the environment in new interpretations, such as a focus on organic foods, gluten free diets or sustainable crops. Some choose to wear organic clothing or use Earth-friendly yoga products, such as the Sym.blue.ology products carried at The Green Yogi. Each of these choices reflects the yogi’s personal interpretation of what it means to be connected to the Earth on and off the mat.
As yoga moved from the Far East to the American West, much of the connection with the Earth was lost to a commercialization of the product. Like many other industries in the past decade, though, yoga has seen a renewed commitment in caring for the environment. Today, the practice of green yoga has come to explicitly describe yoga with a constant focus on the Earth, whether that be through an eco-friendly studio, such as The Green Yogi, or through a practice rooted in ecology.
When you choose to make your practice greener, you are honoring the traditions of the original yogis. You are also helping create a more sustainable environment and lifestyle for the next generation of yogis to follow.