“Permaculture is yoga for the land, as yoga is permaculture for the body”.
Yoga is a path to unification, balance and eternal bliss and Permaculture is a framework for sustainable living so how can they be similar, and how do they complement each other?
The first thing I learned at my yoga teaching training course is that yoga was inspired by nature. A lot of the Asanas (pose) have animals’ name like cat cow pose or downward dog. These Asanas where developed by looking at nature and working with nature. So essentially both Yoga and Permaculture have in their core principles observing and working with nature. Both discipline are also concerned with balance and harmony with the natural laws of the universe.
Definitions of Yoga and Permaculture
Permaculture is about observing and following the patterns in nature to design sustainable agricultural systems and communities. The practice of Permaculture is to develop a balance system in harmony with nature, which sustain communities.
The practice of yoga is dedicated to creating union, balanced and harmony between body, mind and spirit and the environment around you. It is a way of life, which leads you to your true nature, your true self. The practice of Yoga brings you back in harmony with nature.
“Yoga is about bringing yourself in harmony with nature from within just like Permaculture is about bringing harmony from without, between human communities and nature. “
Ethics and Principles of Yoga and Permaculture
Permaculture is a system of design that approaches communities, housing, energy, food and waste the way a yogi approaches her thoughts, breath and actions. Permaculture is applied according to 3 ethics: care for the earth, care for the people and fair share while in Yoga path, the first limb, out of 8 is Yama, universal morality.
The first principle of both disciplines is the observation of what is already occurring. In the body for the yogi and in the landscape for the Permaculturist . Both then interact with the natural laws to improve the flow of energy such as sunlight, rain or breath. The optimized system (body or farm) produce an abundance of food, shelter or bliss and optimum health.
Yoga traditionally was practiced in nature. Yogi used to cultivated gardens and learned how to live in the wild. This was an integral part of yogi training and it used to allow them to practice harmony in nature not only within them but within their environment as well.
“Permaculture is an Earth-centered expression of the spiritual practice of yoga.”
Both Yoga and Permaculture share many more similarities in the way action is taken. We’ll use the Permaculture principles to highlight them.
Catch and store energy
We talk a lot about energy in both yoga and Permaculture. How can we optimise the flow of energy in our body, within our community and in our farm? Yoga is concerned with the flow of energy within the body while Permaculture is concerned with the flow of energy within communities. One is directed inward while the other is more concerned with the physical world outside.
In Permaculture we say that where two environments meet, the most diversity is found like in Mangrove where the sea meets the land or on the edge of a forest. When designing, we are encouraged to take advantage of the edges. In yoga our edge is our aim, it’s our limit and it is from where we grow.
Even the idea of zone in Permaculture is relevant to the different layers of our bodies in yoga. The innermost zone in Permaculture is the person’s immediate environment, it is where the design starts from. In yoga we start to work with our our physical body (zone 1) to then move onto the different layers which make our being (astral and causal body or soul). The path to yoga starts by cleaning and preparing the body through Asanas for concentration and meditation
Accelerating succession and evolution
In Permaculture we talk about the succession of plants and the evolution of the natural world. While yoga is concerned with the evolution of the soul.
Yoga and Permaculture are designed for different purposes but both disciplined found their inspiration in nature. Both understood that harmony, balance and union with the natural laws are the key to efficient system within and without. They are complimentary disciplines, one concerned with the health of our body and mind and the other with the health of our environment. Yoga and Permaculture are both increasingly necessary and valuable tools to deal with our environmental and social crisis.
Yogis and Permaculturists are now getting together to join both practices. Bill Wilson, co-founder of Midwest Permaculture, and the staff and students at the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center are conscious of the synergy between these two practices and have joined forces to raise awareness of both.
“We recognize the fact that permaculture is a logical outward expression of the inner practice of yoga,” says Narayana Chaitanya, director of the Sivananda Center. “It is yoga philosophy in action.”