yoga environmentalism scapa fest

Embracing Perspectives: Yoga And My Accidental Environmentalism | by Holly Saxton

It’s when you feel the shift. It doesn’t happen suddenly. It doesn’t happen overnight. But watch it creep in, slowly. You’ll see the signs, the knee jerk reaction delayed, that radio noise inside your head, once so overwhelming seems to slow, the volume button turned down just a touch, that war with your body, the one you fought so hard for so many years… it begins to stand down. You bend and you breathe through a practice, you don’t realise you are planting seeds…these seeds, they will grow, if you give anything care, it will grow. With every yoga practice you give to yourself; an invisible line begins to unwind, it’s made from energy, and patience, commitment, and release. One day you cross it, without even realising, no fireworks on the other side, but a set of brand new eyes.

My shift wasn’t linear, my ego, my trust, my own truth, were all there along the way to cause obstruct and doubt. Sometimes i gave back in, back to toxic thoughts, back to the escapism highs and the self deprecating lows, back into the folds of those who wanted to be numb, too. It’s easier to be numb, sometimes, why would we ever want to feel that which we know will hurt. No one ever said yoga wasn’t messy, and that at times it will hurt, you will get stuck, you will get angry, you will give up, you’ll always come back, though. I worked through the sticky, i came back to my mat again and again, i went to a class so difficult i left seething, ready to completely pack it all in. But i stuck with the stickiness. After acknowledgement, the healing can start. I started to listen to within, whilst also allowing myself to step out, step away, step across this line and take a test run on my new perspectives that were now been offered to me.  As my truth finally started to let herself take up the space she had been so longing to do, the effect was dominoes. I learnt the power of setting intentions, i learnt to listen to my intuition. There was new joy to be found in my yoga, new adventures were taken, new friendships were formed. I learnt to feel, and not just bury those feelings back down, but to feel it and embrace it, then let it go. Let it go with the cycles, follow those cycles. You will be spoiled with fresh starts and you will write wish lists which you then later learn are intentions; watch them come to life.

When we shift a perspective we cannot return to its previous state. We might wax and wain along with her, i didn’t promise that life would suddenly become a blissful constant, but we know how to channel these feelings as they arise, we learn how to let go of that which no longer serves.

As we learn to let go of old habits, the new ones form. As i began to heal my own body, the need to heal and help began to reach beyond just my inner self, suddenly it almost seemed selfish to only care for myself. It’s those shifts again, see you really cannot predict them; I didn’t anticipate that in looking after myself i would start to feel a deep need to look after other things, especially the environment that surrounds me everyday.  

A shift in perspectives; it masks itself as better life choices, you think you’re treating yourself better, but what you don’t realise is that you are being treated to an entirely new way of seeing the world. But you are a creature so attached to habits and things, your new perspective releases you back into the wild, and you don’t want to bring those old things with you, all of a sudden, they don’t seem very important anymore. But that energy that was so attached to these things, it needs a new home, all energy has to find a home. So you begin to find a new outlet, that’s how i began to find something positive to be passionate about once again, this abundance of golden, energy, re born, ready to fuel something, ready to fight for a change.

Not all yogis are environmentalists, just as I’m quite sure not all environmentalists practice yoga. But when you start a journey of self care, weather through yoga, meditation, any positive change in lifestyle- eventually it will reach beyond the self, and extend to everything around you.

Ironically, in a bid to live a more simple life (which comes with embracing this new way of seeing that yoga so kindly gifts us with) you suddenly become aware of the chaos that surrounds you. As i began to shed my attachments to people, places and material possessions that no longer served, i began to realise just how meaningless the material item is, new things are a short hit to a long lasting unrequintment. It’s also damaging our planet. Plastics and shiny things in packages i once found a daily convenience or a treat i now saw as a means of doing harm, how i’d lived so reliant on the convenient but so blind to the traces i was leaving behind on this earth in doing so. Ahimsa, one of the 5 yamas in yoga means ‘to do no harm’ or non-violence, so no harm on any living being; animal or human, but i’m pretty sure this extends to the planet, it is afterall, a living, breathing thing, too.  

Not all yogis are environmentalists, just as i’m quite sure not all environmentalists practice yoga. But when you start a journey of self care, weather through yoga, meditation, any positive change in lifestyle- eventually it will reach beyond the self, and extend to everything around you. Everyone has their own passions, personal battles, their corners they want to fight, and their voices they want to be heard. Some yogi’s might shout for feminism, human rights, animal rights; anything they can direct that conjured up energy into. My yoga has begun to exist off the mat in a way to bring about positive change to the world and the way we humans treat this planet.

I’m fortunate this past year has been a year of constant shifts; of letting go, learning, living with new perspectives. Most of all, embracing this change. Your new perspectives will force you to change, weather we chose to embrace it or not is where the yoga really begins to work. You could step back, revert back to that safe place, the rose tinted, that blissful ignorance record- back on repeat. Or we can embrace the change, to then create change. My new perspectives have brought me a fair deal of sadness as well as lightness; as i began to open my eyes to the damage we as humans are causing to the planet it would’ve been easier to give up there and then, forget it, continue on as normal, just as i could’ve done after that class i hated. But i chose the route of change; it makes me feel; every day, i feel anger and sadness and hopelessness and i let it, i let it rise and i let it go, it’s frustrating, it’s difficult, but it will one day change perspectives. Just like yoga.

yoga environmentalism scapa fest

Holly Saxton is a yogi, snowboarder, freelance photo editor and writer from London, UK. She heads up the editorial content on Boundless Betty, a online platform aimed at encouraging, inspiring and easing accessibility for women into outdoor adventure sports. 

Posted in Environment, Movement, Movement medicine, Nature, Wellbeing, Yoga.

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