Everyone’s practice of yoga differs from person to person. For most, it is a form of stretching and/or strengthening exercise. I am truly so grateful for everyone being drawn to yoga, even if it is only for the physical aspect. I myself came to yoga for the physical benefits but what I gained is far more.
The word Yoga comes from the Sanskrit root, “Yuj”, which means to join, to unite or to connect. It connects us to our highest potential, our best selves. Yoga poses (asanas) are one small part of this practice towards union. I didn’t really look into it more until I took my yoga teacher training at In Fine Feather Yoga in 2019.
Before my yoga teacher training, I spent most of my time working on strengthening and sustaining my mind and body on my mat. After completing my yoga teacher training, I realized I needed to start creating the space to do that off my mat too. Yoga has taught me so much and I wanted to apply what I have learned and experienced in my practice to things off my mat. I reflected and started to explore how to bring sustainability on and off my mat!
What does sustainability on and off my mat mean to me?
To me, sustainability means to support or to strengthen a goal that minimizes harm towards all beings, maximizes positive impacts for the world as a whole and is mindful of how resources are used. My yoga practice sustains me, supports me, and strengthens my relationship to work towards being my best self. It empowers me to make decisions that minimize harm and maximize positive impact towards myself and others on and off my mat.
Here are 3 ways yoga has taught me sustainability on and off my mat:
1. MINDFUL CONSUMPTION
2. BEING PRESENT
3. UNDERSTANDING LIMITS
1. MINDFUL CONSUMPTION
My devotion to my yoga and meditation practice helps me become aware of my thoughts and how I am feeling. It helps me stay committed to making mindful choices on what I believe to be the right thing. When it comes to purchasing yoga and non-yoga items I make sure to consider the health of fellow humans, animals and the environment. I purchased from Love My Mat because they align with my values and beliefs. Not only do they sell high quality products that do not harm our health or the environment, they are also all about building and supporting the community. They use eco-conscious materials to create sustainable products for your practice on and off your mat. When it comes to non-yoga related items, I ask myself questions like where are the materials coming from, are the workers in good working conditions, are they paid fairly, do I really need this item, can I purchase this locally, how is this impacting my health, animals, the environment, etc.
2. BEING PRESENT
My yoga practice teaches me how to be fully present with how my body is feeling and observing the rhythm of my breathing. By being present, it has increased my self-awareness. Taking deep, conscious, intentional breaths at the beginning of the yoga class helps support me through difficult poses. I observe the flow of my breath to let me know if I should come out of a pose and modify. This practice teaches me how to be present through discomfort. My breath is my tool that helps me access a sense of calm when everything around me is chaotic. It allows me to fully experience the moment off my mat and breathe through the challenging situations instead of running away from them.
3. UNDERSTANDING BOUNDARIES
When I connect with my body and breath, I learn my body’s boundaries. My body shifts and changes depending on the day and the tasks at hand. Some days I can do a challenging yoga pose, other days I might not be able to do it. I discover the space between where I am challenging myself to do a pose without pushing myself to the point where I might injure myself. I use my bolster on those days when I need some extra support. This practice has taught me to understand my body’s boundaries off my mat, to know when to slow down, to take breaks and not push myself so hard to prevent myself from hurting myself. It teaches me to try my best without taking it too far, like to the point of burn out. Just like my yoga props supporting me in challenging poses, I look for how people can support me during challenging times!
Yoga has helped me see my potential and it give me the responsibly for who and how I am. I am truly so grateful for yoga, my teachers, mindful props from Love My Mat that support me, and all the ongoing lessons from this practice each day! I hope that this post inspires you to bring sustainability on and off your mat!
Alicia is very passionate about empowering others to connect with and become their best self. Her motto that she lives by is be the change. In 2019 she graduated in her first 200hr RYTT with In Fine Feather, and continued her training with 20hr Children’s Yoga through Rainbow Kid’s. She is currently enrolled in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition program to become a Health Coach.