The first Earth Day was observed in the U.S. on April 22, 1970. Today, more than four decades later, a billion people worldwide mark the day with environmental activism and community events. If you’re looking for a yogic way to observe Earth Day, it doesn’t get much bigger than the Tadasana Festival, a weekend of yoga, music, and consciousness-raising in Santa Monica, CA. No travel plans? Check around for local events like yoga in the park and earth salutations. Or set aside some time to root your home practice in the imagery and energy of Earth:
1. Put your feet first. Your feet become the roots of Vrksasana (Tree Pose), form the base of Trikonasana (Triangle Pose), and step onto on the metaphoric battlefield of the Warrior poses. While asana teachers offer helpful reminders about the importance of grounding through the feet, we often neglect them outside of class. Heighten awareness of this primary Earth connection by treating your feet to some extra attention.
2. Explore nature. Swami Radha encouraged her students to be adventurers and explorers, journeying deep within each asana for its hidden meanings. Swami Radha associates Tree Pose, for example, with the seasonal cycles, emphasizing its relationship to the earth, from which it draws nutrients. If fickle spring weather is keeping you from practicing asana outdoors, explore the inner nature of asana.
3. Study the elements. In subtle anatomy, the first five chakras are associated with the elements of nature: earth, water, fire, air, and space. Muladhara, the root chakra, correlates to Earth, with related minor chakras in the feet. Tune into Earth energy through awareness of Mula Bandha (Root Lock) in asanas like Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog). Practice a root chakra meditation. Wherever you fix your attention, energy follows in the form of prana.
4. Honor life. B. K. S. Iyengar considers asana to be a reminder that the Universal takes a multitude of forms, and that all life is sacred. Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose), Padmasana (Lotus Pose), and other poses celebrate Earth’s creatures. Honor the primal creative force (prakriti) of each asana, imbuing your practice with the spirit of bhakti yoga. Offer your forehead to the Earth in Balasana (Baby Pose). Feel yourself cradled by Mother Earth during Savasana.
But why limit these activities to Earth Day? Through this vehicle we call the body, we spend every day of our lives traveling the earth plane (bhu loka). May our yoga practices help us make the journey with grace and wisdom.
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