In class, we don’t often have time to take about the history and philosophy of yoga. However, there exists a fascinating and rich body of texts which continue to teach us so much hundreds of years after they were written. 

In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, he outlines the eight limbs, or tenets, of yoga. The first of these are the yamas, or restraints, that a yogi should follow. The first of the yamas is ahimsa, translated as non-violence. There are many different ways that this can be interpreted; being kind and compassionate with the self and others, choosing to look after the body with regular food and exercise, choosing to nourish the soul through meditation and pranayama.  

Another way ahimsa can be practised is through looking after the natural world around us. As the international community attend COP 26 and make plans to ensure environmental stability, now seems like a good time for us to consider what we, as individuals, can do to help reduce our carbon footprint, and effectively practise ahimsa.  

  • Eat locally and seasonally

Whilst cutting down on red meat and other animal products can help to reduce your carbon footprint, the picture is actually more complicated than this. It’s also important to consider where your food is coming from, and whether it is seasonal, or not. For example, eating locally grown strawberries in the summer will have minimal impact, whilst eating strawberries from Egypt in winter will have a much higher environmental effect. The solution? Try to purchase as much of your food as possible from local, independent stores. Make sure to ask where the produce has come from. You could even try to grow some of your own vegetables! 

  • Buy less and buy second-hand

We all like to treat ourselves on occasion and there’s nothing wrong with that. That said, we can consider where and what we buy. Questioning yourself when you’re about to buy those three cheap T-shirts from *insert favourite online shop here*. Do you really need all three? Could you in fact, put together the money you would spend on three T-shirts and buy one well-made T-shirt from somewhere else which is likely to last longer? Or could you go and find similar items in a local charity or second-hand shop? This can be particularly useful for children’s items which are disposed of so quickly after they are bought.  

  • Use your phone to keep track of your carbon footprint

If you enjoy checking your steps and counting calories on your smartphone, why not add measuring your carbon footprint to the list? There are some great apps and websites out there which help you to do this really easily. I tried the WWF online footprint calculator and really enjoyed the process. It took 5 minutes to fill in and I now have some great tips about how I can improve my own carbon footprint.  

  • Walk or cycle

Such a simple one, but really effective. Even if you can only change one of the journeys you normally make in a week by car, that’s still a good effort. Not only is this change good for the environment, but you as well. If you’re cycling as the days get shorter, remember to stay safe and get some good lights and reflective clothing. Or better yet, find them in a charity shop! 

  • Enjoy some candlelight

At Yoga West you’ll have noticed we’re a big fan of candles. And we have some lovely scented candles for sale in our shop. So why not turn off the electric lights whilst you’re enjoying a relaxing candlelit bath. Or relish a family dinner with a candlelit table. These changes not only feel luxurious, but also help to reduce your electricity consumption. What is more, reducing the amount of light you experience in the evening helps melatonin production so you sleep better. It really is a win, win.   

I hope you enjoy trying some of these tips, and maybe even using them as inspiration for your Christmas shopping as we move towards the festive period.