Yoga means “to yoke”, ‘join”, or “union”. Yoga teacher and author, Michael Stone, defines it as “intimacy”. Yoga is the process of returning to our wholeness and the state of being connected-to everything. Together, yoga and permaculture practices remind us that everything is linked and nothing is truly independent.
Social permaculture centers around cultivating sustainable communities. At the core of relationship lies the same ethics that we find in Patanjali’s royal path of yoga, or Raja yoga.
Five yamas, or ethical codes of conduct, are the primary building blocks to healthy relationships:
Brahmacharya (wise use of energy)
Deep introspection is key to refining our spiritual practice. Patanjali called these the five niyamas, or internal observances, and include:
Ishvara Pranidhanant (surrender)
Cleanliness of thoughts, intention, speech and body cultivate integrity and grounds us in strong principles. Contentment allows us to accept things as they are, to see the good in others and ourselves, and to find gratitude in every situation. Patience asks us to stick with challenges knowing that we grow from discomfort. Introspection allows us to learn more deeply about ourselves, and how to cultivate mindfulness. And surrender invites us once again to let go as a way to refine our practice of non-attachment, and to discover what truly lies beneath it all.
Yoga asks us to be mindful in practicing all five yamas and niyamas, and recognizing when we fail. We are denied spiritual growth and advancement when we live in denial of our shortcomings, lack humility, hold on to self-limiting beliefs, run from challenge and fail to see our direct contributions to the quality of life we live and all the people in it. Just like observing nature in environmental permaculture, so too must we observe the nature of our dynamics that surround us. Once we hold ourselves accountable, then the path of yoga unfolds and truly transforms our lives.