As a practice, yoga nurtures our personal environment—mind, body, and spirit—by guiding us through the eight limbs of yoga as described in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra. These limbs can be thought of practices or techniques of their own, designed to empower us to embody conscious, purposeful living. While these practices may start from within, they also call us to show discipline in our actions, which in turn influence the outside world. Yama (restraint) is the first of these limbs and outlines five pillars of integrity, including ahimsa, or non-harming—and it is here that we find guidance to pause and consider our thoughts and actions, whether directed at ourselves, others, or the earth.
While this sense of personal responsibility can feel overwhelming, it’s important to remember that ahimsa, like any asana you’re attempting, is a practice, which means it’s something we devote ourselves to getting better at. With that in mind, here are three ways you can start practicing ahimsa in relation to Mother Earth today.
Think Before You Buy
In today’s grab-and-go culture, convenience is king. Maybe you’ve moved from keeping a fridge full of single-use water bottles to stocking your cabinets with reusable options. That’s a great step, particularly given that the world’s first comprehensive study of plastics, published in Science Advances in 2017, found that just 9 percent of the 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic produced has been recycled, leaving the rest to create additional pollution in the incinerator (12 percent) or sit in landfills and pollute our oceans (the remainder).
Which begs the question: Can we do better? For starters, not all products are created equally (or ethically, for that matter). Look for brands that mirror your own values. For instance, outdoor brand CamelBak® recently announced that its spring 2021 product line will feature more than 80 products that use a material made from 50 percent recycled plastic—not as an added bonus, but as a default. Branded as Tritan™ Renew, the material stands up to the high durability that’s come to be expected of the adventure-ready refillable bottles, plus they’re still free from BPA, BPS, and BPF chemicals and dishwasher safe, all while diverting an estimated 15 million disposable water bottles from the landfill this year alone.
You can also look into ways to eliminate other single-use plastics from your home. Do some research to see whether there’s a refill store in your area where you can bring empty bottles to fill with hand or dish soap, laundry detergent, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, and the like, eliminating packaging from the purchase process. Or check out the bulk section at your grocery store for package-free staples such as brown rice, lentils, and nuts. While you’re there, try skipping the plastic produce bags for items that don’t require rinsing, such as bananas or avocados—or go all in and ditch those baggies altogether. After all, you’re going to clean your veggies at home before you eat them anyway, right?
Take Your Practice Outside (and Leave No Trace)
Studio settings are wonderful for supporting local business, building community, and having a trained set of eyes on your form for safety, but building heat for a hot yoga class takes a lot of energy—and we’re not talking about your body’s energy. Running a studio requires a lot of electricity to achieve the right vibe, which takes a toll on the environment. We’re not suggesting ditching your studio outright and going off the grid completely —balance, remember? But occasionally practicing somewhere other than your studio can make a difference. Think of it as the Meatless Mondays approach to yoga: Once a week, challenge yourself to take your practice al fresco, where your sequence is powered only by your own inner light.
Bring the Outside In
Part of developing a healthy, reciprocal relationship with Mother Nature means inviting her into your home. Cut flowers are cute for maybe a week before they fade, meaning that all of the resources that went into giving them life are also headed to the dump. Opt instead for living plants, which not only brighten your home but can also significantly enhance indoor air quality. In fact, a report from NASA released decades ago showed that in one test, the humble spider plant removed 95 percent of toxic chemical formaldehyde from a sealed chamber in just 24 hours. According to environmental engineer Bill Wolverton, who’s responsible for much of NASA’s plant research, other house plants that excel at removing chemical vapors from the air while also being easy to maintain and pest resistant without sucking up too much water include dracaena, rubber plant, English ivy, Boston fern, and the flowering peace lily.
Founded in 1989, CamelBak®️ invented the hands-free hydration category and is the global leader in personal hydration gear. CamelBak is achieving its mission to continually reinvent and forever change the way people hydrate and perform by offering a mix of award-winning products that include everything from technical hydration packs to reusable bottles. For more information about CamelBak, please visit https://www.camelbak.com.