Reflecting on Earth Day 2017, we at FLY are thinking about our role in healing and protecting the environment. Often times when people are inspired to go green, they may start by recycling, shopping locally, or even buying an electric car. While these actions are vital and definitely make a difference, yoga reminds us not to neglect our inner environment. Our impact on the world also starts from within. As FLY teaching artists work with the next generation of thinkers and doers, we protect the Earth by cultivating peace and respect in our students’ hearts.
Eckhart Tolle says, “As within, so without. If humans clear inner pollution, then they will also cease to create outer pollution.” In FLY classes, we clear the inner pollution by practicing all the pillars of yoga, knowing that it will contribute to the Earth’s harmony in many ways. These pillars are called the yamas and niyamas. The yamas are nonviolence, truthfulness, non-stealing, self control, and non-possessiveness, and the niyamas are purity, contentment, self-discipline, and introspection.
When our students meditate on what these words mean to them, they are practicing respect towards themselves and others. They begin to see the ways we are all connected to each other and the Earth. The Golden Rule gradually becomes second nature!
FLY students also talk about feeling less stressed, more in control, and happier both in and out of school when they practice yoga. By providing students with tools like breathing exercises, affirmations, and creative outlets we prepare them to make positive choices throughout the day. The sense of wellbeing that comes from connecting to our inner environment eventually creates more loving choices towards our plants, animals, water, and air.
At FLY we teach that yoga means unity— the body, mind, and heart working together to make the strongest, smartest, kindest you. This individual unity is the same unity that has led to Earth Day events in over 193 countries and a globally coordinated Earth Day Network. This is the same unity we feel when sharing a smile with a stranger on a bright, sunny day, surrounded by green grass and a cool breeze. As within, so without. The unity of yoga teaches us that the Earth is a gift we must work together to heal, while working within to heal ourselves.
This spring, we invite you to think about your inner environment. Is there pollution? What can you clear away? How can you breathe new healing into your body and mind? It might seem inconsequential at first, but you will be doing the Earth a huge favor. As within, so without. Happy Spring!