The Practice and Our Connection with the Earth.

“To practice asana means to practice perfecting one’s relationships with all aspects of the Earth and all beings that inhabit the Earth.” ~ Jivamukti Yoga 

As part of my yoga teacher training I am to reflect on how my relationship with the Earth is part of my yoga practice. Since today is Earth Day I find it fitting to post my reflection.

Hanumanasana in Gulf Shores, AL by Spencer Callahan
Hanumanasana in Gulf Shores, AL by Spencer Callahan

As my yoga practice deepens, I find that my connection with the Earth also deepening. Yoga teaches us to slow down, to focus on the breath, and to be fully present in the moment.  When we become more aware of the ground beneath our feet, the air around us, the beings around us, and even those beings that are very far away or out of sight. Through this awareness we find connection, we start to remember that we really all are unified, one. I say remember because I think our souls know, and even as children I think we know .Yoga helps us clear our minds and open our hearts to remember what the soul already knows.

I don’t think I really understood this until I started to study Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and the Eight Limb Path. When I started practicing yoga I exclusively practiced asana, or the physical postures. I had no idea that this was the third limb of yoga and that I was truly not ready to practice asana until I practiced the first two. The first limb of yoga, the Yamas are the “abstinences” and the second, the Niyamas, are the “observances”. The first of the Yamas, Ahimsa or “non-harm” has probably had the most profound impact on my relationship with the Earth. I struggled for a long time with truly making myself aware of the harm my choices had on the many aspects of the Earth, I spent years fearful of change and in denial.I had always thought of myself as caring about the planet but as I look back it was mostly out of fear, fear of “If the planet is destroyed what will happen to me?” The practice helps us to let go of fear and to accept love.I am by no means a perfect practitioner, I don’t know that we are meant to be. I struggle with the Yamas and the Niyamas everyday, I think all yogis do.

My search for a life of compassion through the practices of yoga have led me to a fierce love for the Earth, and all her creatures. The eight limbs of yoga leads us to our true self, we can not separate our true selves from the Earth, so I think yoga inherently is our connection with the Earth.

Happy Earth Day, let’s celebrate like it’s every day because she is our home everyday.

Om shanti, Om peace.

The Southern Living Latina

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