Let’s all join the global climate strike on september 20th – yogis included

Why care about the climate crisis?

There are many reasons to care about the climate crisis and show your support through joining the global climate strike on September 20th. Among them, of course, are caring for our planet, leaving a livable world for the future generations and understanding the pain that the world is already in and will continue to increase astronomically in the next 80 years.

These reasons are enough in and of themselves.

A yogic point of view to joining the climate strike.

Photo by Jacob Owens on Unsplash

Although the reasons mentioned above should be enough, nonetheless, I will add a yogic point of view. Our current Western lifestyles violate nearly all of the yamas and niyamas (yogic ethics) which are the two first pillars of yoga.  There is a reason why the Yamas and Niyamas come before the asanas (yoga poses), and pranayama (breathing techniques). One can do as many sun salutations as one wants but that is not enough to change the world.  Ethical living both at the private level and at the systemic level will.

AHIMSA (non violence) is the first Yama that requires of every yogi to “first do no harm”. Our current ways of life harm our planet in multiple ways.

SATYA (truthfulness) requires of us to be truthful to what is really here. The climate. crisis. is. here. and our window to do something about it is closing.

ASTEYA (non stealing, non hoarding) requires of us to stifle greed. It requires of the yogi to ask themselves again and again: “do I really need this?” We simply can not afford to live this consumerist way of life anymore.

In a capitalist world, where we are led to believe that “the grass is always greener on the other side”,  APARIGRAHA (non comapring) and SANTOSHA (contentment) would be the end of capitalism.  The idea of  “I am enough” and I do not need to acquire more or  become more like my neighbor, is both incredibly old and radical all at once.

SAUCHA (cleanliness inside and out) requires of our bodies and mind to be clean.  But how is that possible when our water is polluted, our meat consumption is one of the main causes of the climate crisis itself and our forests are burning?  We need to use TAPAS (willpower, discipline) to focus our energies to bringing change.

SVADHYAYA is about active self-reflection, traditionally in understanding the holy scriptures of yoga. These scriptures guide us to the understanding that “All is One”.  We can not possibly understand this at a deep level while poisoning the Earth simultaneously.

I am already doing all I can, so why join with others in a strike?

It is easy, however, to make all of this into a private individual problem when the truth is that changes in individual consumption practices and attitudes are simply not enough to tackle the problem. We need to change the system at a much deeper level.  And that is why we invite every single one of you to join us at the global climate strike on September 20th. We all need to be there. Together.

Will striking really help anything?

And yes, there will be some of us who will say, “All this action comes too late, this can not be stopped, so why act?”. Here I will quote Tara Brach , in what I consider to be a version of the last niyama ISHVARA PRANIDAHNA (surrender):

“We want to feel that it is possible to save our Earth in order to make a step. Otherwise it is very easy to feel like resigning.  But the truth is, we do not know (if saving the Earth is possible). We just do not know. I like the way Wendell Berry puts it. He says: “We don’t have a right to ask if we are going to succeed or not. The only question we have a right to ask is what is the right thing to do? What does this Earth require of us if we want to continue to live on it?” Thomas Merton puts it this way: “Do not depend on the hope of results. You may have to face the facts that your work may be apparently worthless and even achieve no results at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the VALUE, the RIGHTNESS, the TRUTH of the work itself.

Did you know that your website can also join the climate strike? Click  here to find out how.

“We, at English Yoga Berlin, offer Hatha Yoga classes with Pinelopi and Vinyasa yoga with Juli.  Our yoga Kreuzberg Berlin classes are open for and welcoming to beginners. We also offer pregnancy yoga and private yoga classes, including for people struggling with chronic pain. We will of course be at the climate strike and wish to see you there too.”

Yamas and Niyamas Part 4

The final installment in our 4 part series about Yamas and Niyamas would not be complete  without talking about passion, self-reflection and surrender. In part one of this series, we talked about Patanjali´s limbs of classical yoga practice and started to explore the ethical guideposts within them (aka the Yamas). In part two of Yamas and Niyamas, we spoke about aspects of self-control with regard to possessions, sexuality and energy. Part three covered clarity and calm with regard to your inner life–the first installment of the Niyamas.

The Yamas and Niyamasa are ethical elements of practice, and they are what takes yoga from the level of physical exercise to a deeper, potentially life-altering point. All aspects of human life can be touched if a person is able to understand and practice the deep implications of yoga. Once again, the Yamas are ethical principles about  attitudes and behaviors that cause suffering (greed, dishonesty, violence, etc). The Niyamas (the second limb) are the attitudes and behaviors that yogis can work towards to cultivate happiness and to improve their lives and environments.

“Tapas” is an attitude of passion and commitment. Some people think of it as discipline, or austerity. The word actually comes from the Sanskrit verb ”to burn”-so Tapas is all about fiery consistency. I think that we often get this mixed up with difficulty and striving. I prefer to think of it more as a gentle flame that inspires us to keep going, even when the tasks at hand seem very, very mundane! Think of doing your family’s laundry, or having the same conversation again and again with a friend who is struggling to understand something about themselves. Tapas brings us to do these things with patience, engagement and dedication.

What areas of your life and practice feel repetitive or lukewarm? Could being more present and engaged with these areas make you feel more excited about them?

Svadhaya means active self-reflection, or study of the self. This doesn’t mean egotistical navelgazing. Rather, it’s about learning enough about yourself to see that you are part of something much, much bigger. Asana practice brings the body and mind to a place of quiet, so that we can experience our union with everything. Western Science calls this web of interbeing ´ecology´. The Yogic scriptures call it ´reality´. Both are correct, and Svadhaya is a practice that allows us to recognize this.  Svadhaya is an attitude that helps us to transcend projection, isolation and other illusions that come standard with a human body and mind.

How does yoga help you ”see” yourself in different ways? Do you have other practices that nourish this ability?

Isvara Pranidahna
The last Niyama is Isvara Pranidahna, which means ‘surrender’ or ‘faith’.  Simply put, this Niyama is about chilling the fuck out. Isvara Pranidahna means that you do your best, in the moment, with the tools you have, and then you release your attachment to the outcome. As the Bhagavad Gita says, “the future is none of your business, so don’t worry about it!” Focus on doing your best in the present moment, and leave the rest for another day.

Do your expectations and worries about a particular project or relationship hold you back from enjoying it fully in the moment? If you take a trial run at not worrying about controlling that thing, even for a minute or two, how does it feel?

Our Hatha yoga in English is a discipline of non violence that is about practice and experience, rather than dogma or rules. We offer yoga in Kreuzberg for all levels of physical ability. We believe that yoga in Berlin and around the world should be nurturing to your body and soul. And as we become happier and more balanced as individuals, we can go out and make our world a better place. We are happy to offer you a home in our sangha and hope we can offer you a place of belonging, growth and rest.