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Sustainability: A Lifelong Practice

by Ellen Haines |

When I began practicing yoga over 9 years ago, my only goal was to learn how to do the poses that I saw online, in magazines, or from my teachers

I was captivated by the physicality of the practice and the aesthetically pleasing postures that my teachers made look effortless. As I continued to practice, I developed a habit of pushing myself to meet that aesthetic, sometimes at a cost. A pulled hamstring here, a low back flare up there. 

With experience and time, it dawned on me that sustainability was one of the most meaningful words to keep in the back of my mind while practicing. I began to appreciate the value of developing a yoga practice that met my body where it was, in that exact moment. Building strength, stability, and mobility by listening to my body became more important than trying to copy a post I saw on Instagram. 

Once I started embracing the concept of sustainability in my practice, it began to flourish and those sought after poses became more accessible. Funny how that works.

Many of us have come to view yoga as something that’s only accessible or meaningful if we’re coming from a dance or gymnastics background. I’d like to offer a gentle and reassuring reminder that yoga is meant for all bodies, all backgrounds, and all abilities. While the moment you finally learn to stand on your head can be exciting and exhilarating, that is only one outcome of a much broader set of outcomes that I like to refer to as “purpose”. Yoga is meant to help us develop a great connection to ourselves and others, to support our mental and emotional health, and to help us thrive in the face of challenges. 

Set the intention to nurture your body by approaching your yoga practice as if it were a life long practice. Let it be something that supports you in all the phases of life, acknowledging that the benefits we receive are so much more than physical in nature. 

Over time, you may find that a sustainable mindset towards your practice will expand into other aspects of your life. The belief is simple - the more connected we are to ourselves, the more connected we are to one another and the world around us. 

This realization that we all connected leads us to consider our actions off the mat. Imagine if we took time to recognize all of our unsustainable habits, practices, and actions. Imagine if we’ve put these values in place within our homes, in our societies, and in our government. Imagine the significant changes we could make and the type of world we could create.

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