This is a strange title, because what exactly does "green" anything mean nowadays? Yoga itself means balance, and the implication of "green" in front of it might bring to mind: Environmental Yoga Studio, or, Environmentally Friendly Practices at the Studio, or Earth friendly Yoga Teachers. Our studio is sort of those things, and sort of not. We are located in a pretty conscious town, relatively speaking, compared to the rest of the United States, especially SouthEast. Given our groovy locale, we recycle, use enviro-friendly cleaning products and sell bio-degradable sticky mats alongside our organic clothes. But it's definitely not exclusive. We also have nasty cleaning products for certain cleaning jobs, and non-organic clothing/products, that might have been made (gasp) in Chinese children's sweatshops! How do I find peace as a business owner and Green advocate?
It's my mantra.
I teach flow yoga, describing it as going with the flow, trying to stay in the balance throughout all of life's turbulence. It's not easy, no one said it would be, and I am not perfect, I don't even know what that would be exactly. What I do know is I am open to change. A teenager was in my class not too long ago and asked me if I knew exactly what was going on with a certain popular brand of tissues I had supplied in the yoga studio. She then briefly explained some environmental and social atrocities, and that was a lovely seed I sprouted right then and there, deciding never to buy that brand of tissue again. I realize my buying power is a political message. All of our collective buying power is a strong, loud political message. What we purchase affects the entire world. I give the following to my teacher trainees, it is a bit dramatic, and at the same time quite painfully true:
THE KARMA OF EATING:
When you eat something, you eat everything that happened to make that food come into existence. You are affirming a certain version of the world. For example, suppose you eat a banana from the regular grocery store. It has been imported from a Mexican or South American plantation, located on destroyed rain forest land, violently taken away from indigenous tribes, who now labor at the plantation at starvation wages, using pesticides that pollute ecosystems, and inhibit their own immune systems, especially fertility. The bananas are shipped thousands of miles using polluting oil-feeding ships, by a company that puts small independent growers out of business through corrupt practices like these. By eating the banana, you ever so slightly reinforce this state of affairs, and make it part of your reality and your experience. you are saying yes to such a world. When our food production system throws nature out of balance, is it any wonder that our lives too spiral out of balance?
I feel that from a spiritual point of view, we are here on earth at this time, pollution/corruption and all, to seek balance. My children are hopefully absorbing our values, For instance, this Christmas we sent family members compact-fluorescent light bulbs with informational sheets. Not cozy, but our consumer-driven culture is difficult for me to flow with at times. And as much as I try to "green" my business and my family, I am more in support of sustainability. Although I encourage everyone on the planet to support small, locally owned businesses, boycott all the "marts", and recycle like crazy (including clothes and cars), I think I feel even stronger about buying locally produced items. I am reading Barbara Kingsolver's new book: "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle", and as many of you know, her writing is outstanding, and the message of her book (so far I am one-third into it) is thus:
The amount of fossil fuels to bring us those "California Organic Strawberries" is unsustainable, I mean we are still murdering and being murdered over this fossil fuel, as I write!:
"If every US citizen ate just one meal a week (any meal) composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country's oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week. That's not gallon, but barrels. Small changes in buying habits can make big differences. Becoming a less energy-dependent nation my just need to start with a good local breakfast." B.Kingsolver
In addition to advocating "buy local!" I also advocate either donating your time, and/or your money to exceptional causes. I must send out 25 politically charged emails a week to our representatives in our government. I also donate a percentage of the business proceeds, as well as my own income, to non-profit organizations I feel are contributing to the better-meant of the planet.
I encourage you to make small steps towards "greening" yourself, your home, your family, your world!
I wish for us all to be the examples of radiant health, abundant compassion, and deep peace that we wish to see in our children, our politics, and our world.
Are you a Yoga Teacher?