Yoga and Sustainable Travel
Here at Costa Dulce, we understand the desire to travel. Seeing new places, getting to know a different culture, and trying exotic foods are some of the joys that inspire us to explore the world! Yet, we also realize that traveling and the tourism industry in general are not the most environmentally-friendly.
We are mindful of the fact that tourism is responsible for nearly 10% of the global carbon footprint, according to a study by the journal Nature Climate Change looking at data from 2009-2013.
At Costa Dulce, we also value supporting the local Nicaraguan community that largely depends on revenues from tourism, and so we don’t necessarily want to ask people to stop traveling. The New York Times further supports that sustainable travel means contributing to the local community by supporting local businesses — whether it’s buying locally-made goods or eating at local restaurants instead of large chains.
But we also feel that as yogis we have a responsibility to travel more mindfully and minimize our environmental impact wherever we go.
You might be wondering, what does practicing yoga have to do with traveling sustainably?
The Link Between Yoga and Sustainable Travel
Yoga is more than a sweat-inducing workout or a form of meditation. The aim of yoga is to come into a state of Samadhi or union. In this state we feel fully connected to our true nature as well as with what is around us. Through the practice of yoga, we come to sense that we are all interconnected — humans, animals, plants, the planet, and whatever created all of those things.
Plus, the practice of yoga is not just stretching on a piece of rubber (hopefully sustainably sourced rubber), but it has its roots in our day-to-day lives!
According to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, one of the foremost yogic texts that was compiled before the 5th century, ethical practices called the Yamas and Niyamas are the foundation of yoga. The first Yama, or self-regulating behavior, is ahimsa or non-violence. This includes refraining from hurting ourselves and others through thoughts, words, or actions, but it also includes minimizing damage to our environment.
Non-greed (aparigraha) and contentment (santosha) are two more of the Yamas and Niyamas that help remind us to take care of our earth. When we practice enjoying what we have instead of always seeking to have more, we automatically decrease our impact! Abstaining more often from the impulse to consume excessively allows us to help slow the depletion of our planet’s natural beauty as well as its precious resources. Whether it’s thinking twice about whether we really need that new pair of jeans or even to take some seashells home that might provide a home for a creature, when we bring the practice of yoga into our lives we become more aware of the possible effects of our daily actions.
So while doing yoga asana on the mat is great, practicing yoga in our lives is even better as it helps us show up as better people for others and for our planet. Deborah Adele gives more guidance on how to deepen our yoga practice and live our yoga in her book The Yamas and Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice.
Two models of this connection between yoga and environmental awareness are the environmentalist Céline Cousteau (the granddaughter of French conservationist Jacques Cousteau) and the high-earning tennis player Novak Djokovic.
Céline Cousteau shares that she constantly feels like she’s working on multiple projects at a time, which leaves very little time for self-care, but she makes sure that she dedicates a couple of hours a week to practicing yoga. She advises: “I think it’s crucial to take time for yourself; maybe that’s yoga, a walk, or weeding the garden. If you regenerate, you’re going to come back better, for the people you serve.” Céline is an example of how yoga and other ways of re-connecting with ourselves ultimately help us contribute more to the world.
Another example of how a committed yoga practice naturally makes us want to give back is the environmentally conscious tennis player and yogi Novak Djokovic. Djokovic says he uses yoga and meditation to raise his consciousness to not only help his competitive edge, but to better allow him to love himself, the people around him, and the planet. He is one of the highest-earning athletes on the planet with 15 Grand Slam titles to his name, yet his yoga practice inspires him to give back to others and the planet. He follows a plant-based diet and founded a charity that gives educational grants to young children from his homeland of Serbia.
What Do We Do Now?
From the yogic viewpoint, we can see that travel has a negative environmental impact and then we can take conscious actions, both large and small, to decrease our footprint.
For air travel, we can make our trips as long as possible and consolidate frequent smaller trips into one large trip to reduce the total distance traveled and total number of flights we take each year. At Costa Dulce we help you offset the carbon footprint of your flight by planting three trees in our protected nature reserve for each night of your stay!
For daily travel, we can ride-share and plan in advance to consolidate our errand runs into one trip instead of making several separate trips to and from home.
In our daily lives, we can say “no” to plastic straws and bring reusable containers with us to minimize the use of single-use plastics that deplete our resources and harm our health as well as our oceans and marine life.
At home or abroad, we can also skip attractions that could harm wildlife, like zoos, tiger petting, or elephant rides.
Interested in continuing to explore the connection between yoga and environmental consciousness? Check out our upcoming 200-Hour Transformational Yoga Teacher Trainings to deepen your connection to yourself, to others, and to the planet in order to make positive change in the world.
Content intended only for the use of costadulcebeach.com
Penned by Althea Jean, Guest Writer (edited by Monica Munguia)