In the Bhagavad Gita, written long ago in a much different culture, the warrior Arjuna finds himself in a situation that he doesn’t want to be in, but cannot avoid. A great battle is about to begin, and is sure to result in great suffering. His friend and chariot driver Arjuna, who is an incarnation of God, reveals yoga to Arjuna, teaching him about the necessity to fulfill his purpose and to act to the best of his ability without being attached to the results.
As I considered the reality of climate change, Arjuna’s situation and the lessons of the Bhagavad Gita shone with new brilliance and clarity. I also find myself in a situation I would prefer not to be in but I cannot avoid. I am alive at this time when the impacts of human civilization on the environment are inescapable. The earth’s atmosphere and oceans are warming, with a myriad of impacts around the globe. Climate change and its impacts will be the context for the rest of my life. I didn’t choose this situation, and I’d prefer not to have to face it, but, like Arjuna, there is no escape. How do the ancient teachings about yoga apply? How can yoga help?
Yoga can’t directly reduce global warming emissions, but yoga can change people. Yoga can open people up to their relationships and interconnectedness. Yoga can help people be more content with what they have and be more understanding and compassionate toward others. Yoga can help people see the consequences of their actions. In these ways, yoga can change people’s priorities, change the way they see themselves in the world, and change their actions from ones that harm to ones that nurture. Yoga can create resilience in us as we stay engaged in this lifelong endeavor to deal with climate change.
ClimateYogi sits at the intersection of the inner-world practice of yoga and the outer-world reality of climate change. Many people know yoga only as the postures, a practice of physical exercise, and I’m often asked, “What does yoga have to do with climate change?”
As a yoga teacher, I love to get this question, because it opens the door to discuss the full scope of yoga: the truth that our actions are important and we are responsible for their consequences; the ethical principles which include non-harming, truthfulness and non-greediness; the stages of meditation; and how the physical practice of postures and breathing support meditation and ethical living.
As a step in raising awareness and taking meaningful action on climate change, ClimateYogi has partnered with Cool Effect and the Sedona Yoga Festival to make it easy for you to offset the climate impact of your travel to Sedona.
SYF provides a link to cooleffect.org from the festival registration page. If you’ve already registered but would like to offset your travel now, go to:
Founder | Climate Yogi
’ll be at SYF with information about ClimateYogi and cooleffect.org. I look forward to talking with you about your thoughts on yoga and climate change, and how the yoga community can help create a more life-nurturing and sustainable future.