sustainable yoga, sustainable communities

yoga, like sustainability, is a practice. it is incremental, ongoing, and there’s no arrival at any particular end. yoga is a practice of attention to breath and movement, originating in ancient India and associated with meditation. the practice of yoga calls for increased awareness about oneself and one’s connections to others and the world.

through greater awareness and connection, yoga can empower individuals, and ultimately communities, to learn, discuss and engage in positive change.

in this sense, while yoga can be a divine personal treat, it doesn’t have to be a selfish act. the practice has tremendous ripple effects from several different sources. according to Kelly Quintia, Los Angeles-based yoga and wellness goddess, self-care can increase self-awareness and attention to basic physical things like eating, drinking and sleep, as well as larger things like one’s job and lifestyle. from there, questions about connections may begin to arise, such as the sources of one’s food and the impact of one’s job.

a more sustainable society arises from “creating sustainability in oneself, first through better health, better lifestyle habits and better choices in food and liquids,” says Kelly. “one starts to take that attention to others—and a greater point of view through politics and lifestyle,” says Kelly. she adds that this heightened awareness leads to greater learning and conversation, and that “conversation leads to action.” several strands of yoga exist, but, in general, the larger goals of the yoga practice include attainment of greater spiritual insight and sustained well-being of the body and mind.

in yoga, through our breath and sweat, we burn out toxicity and stagnation, and we replace it with physical rejuvenation and heightened awareness.“we’re burning away emotional baggage, releasing where stagnation persists, and flushing in areas that haven’t been ‘touched’ before,” says Kelly. through this process, yoga can help us work through negative emotions and baggage, improving our moods and, often, our interactions with others. Yogis can share with others the sense of balance, health and good vibes they find in class.

the process of practice with intention and attention is essential to yoga. as Kelly says, “any practice is art…and yoga is centered around holistic health embodying mind, body, heart (or soul)…getting to know those parts of oneself as a whole starts a great long and wide path of creation, community, artistry, sustainability, intelligence.”

Kelly highlights the importance of pouring our full attention into every small action, in yoga and with everything in life. she notes that “paying attention will create illumination,” and that “more light creates better clarity,” which will help us become aware of the positive changes that need to be made at the individual and community levels.

it may seem trivial, but the simple act of consistent care for ourselves, with the intention of connecting to something higher and shared among us, can plant the daily seeds for a larger awareness of connectedness. through practice, we can focus on connectedness over competition, empathy over derision, and diversity over monoculture. we can replace banality with beauty, complacency with passion, and self-righteousness with gratitude.

if you haven’t already, give yourself permission to start a daily practice and begin to share the benefits with those around you.

*originally published for Bamboo Magazine*

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