19 Ways to Practice Yoga in an Environmentally Friendly Way
Practicing yoga involves physical, mental and spiritual practices. Part of the mental and spiritual practice is to be aware of the affects we have on the world that supports us. This is why so many teachers and practitioners of Yoga also practice the most sustainable and green lifestyle that they can. There are many ways that each of us can live lives that are less harmful to the environment, but here are five ways that are specific to Yoga.
Meditation has been practiced for centuries. So what’s all the hype about? Well, the practice has been linked to a number of powerful health benefits, including improving some of the most pressing concerns of modern life, such as high blood pressure and unchecked stress. Spending just a few minutes each day on quiet reflection can lead to major physical and mental health improvements.
Meditation can have profound effects on the brain. Some aspects of the practice are immediately identifiable while others may take some time to develop and be fully realized. However, there can be little doubt that those who practice meditation on a regular basis are engaging in a practice that is extremely beneficial for their mind. Here are some examples of this works:
Save electricity – In comparison to many forms of exercise, in gyms or swimming for example where machines are needed to heat water, exercise on or pump out distracting music, Yoga is inherently low in its consumption of electricity. Using a space that is naturally lit and ventilated (outdoors is perfect!) reduces the consumption of electricity to zero. I doesn’t come any lower carbon emission than that.
Transport – Think about how you travel to your lessons. Cycle or walk to lessons, or use buses or car sharing. The exercise from walking or cycling is better for your health. The reduced fuel use and exhaust fumes are better for the world. Car sharing is also a great way to get to know others students in your class.
Eco Friendly Equipment – Get an eco friendly yoga mat. The typical PVC yoga mats may be cheaper to buy in the short term, but they are massively damaging to the environment, both in their manufacture and in their inability to biodegrade. Look for natural organic cotton or natural rubber mats as an alternative, not only are these greener but they are generally much better quality, making them last longer and superior to use.
Clothing and Shoes – The clothing worn during Yoga sessions is vital to being comfortable, so it is worth thinking through your outfit to find out what will work for you. You’ll find any good quality apparel will last longer than cheaper alternatives. You can always save money by buying second hand, and purchases from charity shops have the additional bonus of doing some good while you get a shopping fix. Working in natural fibres such as cotton is often better for exercise than the non-breathable less natural fibres.
The Right Yoga Group – Yoga groups and classes differ vastly; ask before you join about the class’s and teacher’s ethos. Do they consider environmental impact, and ecological issues? You’ll find that most do, it is important to most teachers that they live within the teachings of Yoga.
Stress relief – Few things can eliminate stress after a busy day quite like sitting quietly and reflecting upon the events of the day. This may allow individuals to process any negative emotions or thoughts they may be carrying from earlier.
Concentration – By training an individual to bring their attention back to the present more completely, meditation helps a person learn how to sustain concentration. This may have positive effects in one’s professional life, as well as in their ability to stay centered and focused throughout the day.
Support healthy mood – High stress is among the leading causes of conditions like anxiety and depression. This mood disorder is experienced by up to 25 percent of adults at some point in their life and is one of the leading causes of disability. By eliminating stress, meditation helps individuals avoid these potentially serious mental health conditions.
Improve memory – Those who are able to maintain high levels of concentration tend to have greater activation in areas of their brain devoted to memory. Many individuals who practice meditation report improvements in their memory. This may be particularly important for seniors who may be starting to experience cognitive impairments. Meditation may be one of the simplest ways to delay this process.
Boost gray matter – A recent study published in the journal Psychiatric Research: Neuroimaging showed that individuals who practiced meditation for 30 minutes per day over the course of eight weeks experienced measurable gains in gray matter volume. This is the part of the brain responsible for memory, stress management, empathy and sense of self.
Lower blood pressure – Numerous investigations have shown that regular meditation practitioners have lower blood pressure, particularly if they have been diagnosed with hypertension in the past. This may significantly reduce a person’s risk of heart disease, which remains the most common cause of death in the world.
Unleash creativity – Many meditators report feeling in touch with their creative side. Tapping into one’s creative wells may help those who work in the arts, as well as professionals in more corporate settings. Regardless of a person’s job, a fresh approach to problems is always a useful tool. This benefit may relate to the next aspect of meditation’s effects.
Renew perspective – After completely clearing the mind for an extended period of time, it may become possible to look at the world in a new and fresh way. Things that once appeared to be major problems may simply become minor obstacles that can easily be sidestepped.
Lower oxygen consumption – The body’s respiratory system becomes more efficient at processing oxygen and using it for various purposes. This means it requires less oxygen.
Decreased respiratory rate – Due to the fact that a meditator requires less oxygen, they are generally able to slow down their breathing rate. When a person’s breathing rate slows down, their body enters into a state of relaxation and calm, according to research.
Increases blood flow to the heart – Studies have shown that meditation practitioners experience increased blood flow to the heart, which can have a range of cardiovascular benefits. This may enable the cardiovascular system to send more oxygenated blood throughout the body, improving circulation and reducing the risk of potential complications.
Builds self-confidence – Many people feel high levels of self-esteem and confidence after meditating. This may come from the deepened sense of self a meditator is able to develop during the course concentration and inward reflection.
Reduces pre-menstrual syndrome symptoms – Studies have shown that women’s symptoms associated with their menstrual cycle are lessened thanks to meditation.
Improves chronic disease management – Individuals with conditions like diabetes or heart disease may feel more inclined to manage their health risks when they meditate on a regular basis. Depression is common among diabetics, and is often cited as a reason they do not take their medications. By dealing with negative emotions, diabetics may be more inclined to manage their health.
There are virtually no areas of health that are not impacted in some way by meditation. Many in the medical establishment are beginning to catch on to these benefits. It is now relatively common for a doctor to recommend some type of meditative practice to their patients.
Given the proven track record of having countless health benefits, there is no reason why a person should not at least give it a try. For anyone who feels stressed out or has been clinically diagnosed with a health problem, meditation may be just what they need to stay on an even keel.