It is heartening to see the expansion of consciousness about sustainable lifestyle and the need to care for our mama Earth. A global shift in concern is evident: this topic is on the minds of many, as we observe the quickening pace of the aftereffects that our lifestyle this past century has wreaked on the planet.
Our oceans full of plastic, our air and water polluted, many species dying out and the earth itself running a fever. Hopefully, we have not waited too long to act.
To this end, we are grateful to see growing awareness in the Yoga community as well – particularly when it comes to retreats. Many new retreat centers have opened their doors in the past decade, and a majority of these is working directly to address the footprint that they leave on their local environment. We are excited to cooperate with a number of these wonderful retreat locations and have put some thought into how the Yoga retreat experience can be a conscious, low-impact one that – in the best case – nurtures the yogis on retreat and also gives back to the local environment and community, making a positive impact.
Here are some of our suggestions for how to make your Yoga retreat experience as environmentally sustainable as possible:
1. Choose a teacher who embodies some element of sustainable values – many high-profile Yoga teachers have chosen to dedicate themselves to a particular cause related to environmental sustainability – for example, the wonderful Nina Vukas who leads our beautiful Croatian retreats every year is committed to a vegan lifestyle and thus makes sure that the yogis participating in her retreats are spoiled with the most delicious, farm-to-table vegan goodness.
2. If vegan isn’t your thing, look for a center that prides itself on sourcing their food locally. For example, Agricola Samadhi – a gorgeous center in southern Italy where we’ll be spending a week in June on our Ashtanga Yoga retreat with David Robson and Jelena Vesic – is both a retreat center and a farm. Most meals are sourced directly from the fields and orchards on-site, thus avoiding the carbon footprint of trucking and shipping products in from elsewhere. Plus: fresh fruit and vegetables, just picked from under the warm Italian sun just taste better!
3. Aside from food, look into the relationship of a retreat center to its local environment and community. Most centers are located in especially beautiful corners of the world, which may also mean crowded beaches, lots of tourism and – as a result – lots of trash. We’ve discovered a number of centers that participate in local beach clean ups, or offer educational services to the local community. Suryalila in Spain, for example, plans to offer Permaculture classes and workshops for local farmers.
4. Finally, consider the small – but important! – things you can do both in preparation for and on your retreat journey: bringing a reusable water bottle is super important! Most retreat centers offer filtered drinking water so that you can refill and avoid generating more plastic waste. Consider the environment when you are shopping for retreat wear – there are so many amazing Yoga clothing companies that represent sustainable values. Buy a Yoga mat made from sustainable materials and consider offsetting your carbon footprint by donating to organizations which use your donation to support climate protection projects world wide.
Instead of investing your energies into guilt and despair over the state of our Earth, gather hope and energy from making conscious choices - knowing that every small decision that we make to nurture our planet adds to the momentum of the movement that is growing.