Vinyasa Yoga is a form of yoga that asks us to pay great attention to how our movements (the poses or asanas) are connected to our breath. It also keeps us flowing from one pose to the next, asking us to pay great attention to the placement of each body part as we land in a pose.
From our fingertips to our toes, from our mind to our breath, we are asked to be aware of how each movement that we make alters our perception and connection to Prana (life-force). Since Prana encompasses all things, this means that through these movements and this awareness we are connecting deeply not just with ourselves but with all of life. (Astrid Jirka)
Many vinyasa yoga poses start with the action of our feet. As we flow from one standing pose to the next, we have to carefully place our feet so that we will be evenly balanced as we pause for a moment to recognize the new energy that we are creating. We have to spread our toes evenly on the earth and feel how small adjustments to pressure in the souls of our feet can have big effects on our balance and sense of serenity as we breathe. We also draw prana up through the energy points of our feet (the pada bandhas) so that we create a sense of lightness. In this way, we can counteract the effects of gravity and step more lightly in our poses.
Similarly, we can learn to be conscious of the placement of our footsteps when we are walking in our daily lives. Every step we take, and every action we make, will affect not only our own state of being, but also the lives of others.
In the world of ecology, this concept is called our Ecological Footprint.
An Ecological Footprint is the impact of a person or community on the environment. For example, by some estimates, if everyone lived the lifestyle of the average American, we would need 8 planets! You can find more information, and your countries impact, listed here.
As most of us know, excessive resource use has many depressing environmental impacts such as deforestation, mountain top removal, overfishing, pollution of waters and the sky, and also global warming. Sadly, the acts of resource extraction, consumption and pollution also affect all life profoundly. People and animals lose their clean drinking water when rivers are polluted, plant and animal species become extinct with deforestation and poor people of the world are already being unfairly affected by rising sea levels due to global warming.
It is impossible to live life without affecting the environment in some way. For me to use toilet paper, a tree has been chopped down. For me to eat, a plant has lost its life. Lions kill to eat zebras. This is part of the cycle of life, but yoga asks us to do the least harm possible – to have the smallest footprint – by practicing Ahimsa.
Ahimsa, is the first ethical practice expounded in the Yoga Sutras. It is the practice of non-harming. By respecting this practice we strive to have the lightest impact possible on the earth and all beings.
In October 2016 I will be leading a week long yoga retreat in the Grazalema Mountains of Andalucia, Spain. This will be a great place to practice vinyasa yoga, ahimsa and stepping lightly on the earth.
The focus of this yoga retreat will be on how our lives are intimately connected to nature. We will explore the 5 Natural Elements in our bodies, we will flow with our breath as we practice vinyasa yoga, we will demonstrate ahimsa when we eat vegetarian meals and we will walk lightly with our footsteps as we walk in the Grazalema Park. I hope it will remind us of how we can use yoga to help protect the Earth during a time when many changes are happening to our planet. These concepts are a part of my work with a project called Yoga for the Earth. (Astrid Jirka)
One important and very specific further consideration for people who are flying to yoga retreats around the world is to consider the impact of the pollution created from the airplanes we fly in. This is called our Carbon Footprint (‘huella de carbono’ in Spanish).
Flying is one of the largest contributors of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and is directly related to global climate change.
I believe that as yogis and yoga retreat participants we should do our best to offset our carbon footprints by donating money to organizations that are taking CO2 out of the atmosphere by working on projects that reverse global warming. This is called Carbon Offsetting. I would like to encourage all of my retreat participants to consider this option! (Astrid Jirka)
Below are some websites with more information about this concept and with organizations that you can donate money to. It doesn’t cost very much! Only about $30 from the US to Spain or 20 Euro if you are coming from within Europe.
Please join me in reducing our collective Ecological and Carbon Footprints as we practice yoga together and acknowledge our interconnected lives!There are many other ways in which yoga and the natural world intersect.I hope you’ll join me on this journey to learn about how yoga and caring for the earth are connected and how both nature and yoga can help us to feel more connected to ourselves and the world!(Astrid Jirka)
– Informacion sobre Bonos de Carbono
– Explicación de Bonos de Carbono en Espanol.
– Possible Carbon Off-setting Programs to use.
– proyectos para calcular y compensar tus emisiones de CO2 por proyectos en España y Latino América.
– Lufthansa(other airlines may have their own programs)
Please read about my last post concerning the 5 Natural Elements.
Future blog posts that I will be writing will let also you know more about my retreat by discussing:
ධ The concepts of Prana, Tantra and the Yantras which we will draw during the retreat! Click on this link to see what they will look like!
ධ The eight-limbs of yoga and how they connect us to ourselves and the earth.
ධ A healthy yoga diet and why it’s important for our bodies and the earth.
For more information about me, Astrid Jirka, please visit my personal website.
For more information please visit Yoga for the Earth project.
You can contact me directly with QUESTIONS at [email protected]
Namaste and I hope to step lightly with you in Espana!