Yoga & Permaculture are both difficult to define, due to their expansive nature.
They could both be explained as wisdom bodies that include philosophies, practices, disciplines, and virtues.
Great trees of knowledge with many branches.
Yoga is old, as in, ancient. The origins of Yoga trace back 10,000 years ago. There is no one source known, rather, a knowing that great souls of that time received the wisdom that was transmitted orally and into ancient texts (the Vedas & Upanishads). The Sanskrit meaning of the word Yoga is translated into English as the words “yoke” and “union”.
Permaculture, on the other hand, is much, much younger. The term was coined in 1978 by Bill Mollison and David Holgrem. At first it was defined as “permanent agriculture”, with a focus on natural and regenerative farming in defiance of industrialized agricultural practices that harm the earth. Later, the definition was redefined to mean “permanent culture” to include social and community dynamics as integral parts in a whole ecosystem. While the term Permaculture is relatively new, the practices are based on what the indigenous peoples of the earth have been practicing long before there was an agricultural industry. When studying the ways of indigenous people we can observe the focus on living in harmony with the earth that sustains us.
In Yoga, the concept of union is taught through Shiva and Shakti. Often thought of as the Divine Masculine and Divine Feminine, Shiva and Shakti aren’t Gods to be worshipped outside of ourselves. Rather, they are the divine energies that exist within each of us. The dance of Shiva and Shakti gives way to creation. While the popularity of Yoga more recently in the West may have you believe it is purely an external physical practice, the authentic practice of Yoga is actually internal. It is the unification of the Self; Self with Spirit, Self with body/mind, Self with the planet and all beings, Self with life. This unification is how we become whole again and how we live a full life in harmony with all of existence. We are born whole. Fragmentation occurs with trauma. Perhaps it is a byproduct of the human experience. Fortunately, Yoga was birthed out of a need for humans to have resources to put themselves back together.
Permaculture was also birthed out of a need. Fragmentation and loss of wholeness is not limited to the internal experience of humans, this disease is spread to our planet. One simple way to understand this is through monoculture or monocropping. This agricultural practice is defined as growing one crop species in a field at a time. This practice has been widely used in order to efficiently produce crops such as corn, wheat, and sugarcane and the most popular varieties of fruit trees. Monocropping is also used for esthetic purposes growing grass for lawns. There is nothing natural about this process, however, and the lack of biodiversity leads to diseases, pests, and ultimately disintegration of the soil. The solution still commonly used world wide includes toxic fertilizers and pesticides which only further damages the environment. Healthy ecosystems and habitats are home to hundreds of plant, insect, and animal species. Permaculture was created to offer solutions and systems to grow food and steward land that align with nature instead of destroy it.
If we establish ourselves in Yoga, we can then turn our awareness outward (or dissolve the lines of separation between us and what is outside of us completely). The journey within ultimately impacts the experience without. The deeper we know ourselves the more profound an impact we can make on the world around us. When we have experienced Unity within ourselves we naturally experience interconnection with the entire universe. What may be more germane now than ever though, is the need for us as a species to experience the very real interconnection we have with the planet we call home, what we call Earth.
It is our passion to unify Yoga & Permaculture at Earthsong, an Earth Ashram (a space of spiritual study guided by the Earth.) We host yoga retreats and yoga teacher trainings on the Island of Hawai’i that include permaculture education as an integral part to the experience. You can get a peek inside what this experience is like by watching this video created from a recent 300 hour Yoga Teacher Training held here at Earthsong with Breath Body Earth Yoga School. In this video the participants describe their experience deepening their study of yoga while being empowered to engage and give back to the land holding them.
If you are interested in studying yoga & permaculture in a nature retreat on the island of Hawai’i you can learn more about Earthsong & inquire about visiting and future learning opportunities on our website.
Written by Elena D.