Modern yogis are not as connected from nature because modern living has become very different from what life used to be. I, for one, live in a building on a high floor, and when I look out the window, I see another building. It isn’t as easy for us to be connected to nature. It may take extra effort for us to make that connection. It may take us watching Cowspiracy and Plastic Ocean and Racing Extinction and other documentaries to make the connection that the Earth—our only home— is in dire need of our help.
The focus of the month in Jivamukti is water. We take this resource for granted because we are quite disconnected from its source. When we show up at yoga+, we take our bottle into the dispenser and we get free alkaline water, just like that. The reality though, is that even though the Earth is made up of 70% water, only 1% is accessible. Water is actually quite scarce, and yet we waste so much of it. The biggest water waste incurred is in animal agriculture. Pound by pound, here is the comparison. One pound of beef requires 1,800 gallons of water to produce, compared to one pound of potatoes which requires only 30 gallons of water.
Jivamukti advocates a completely plant-based diet because of both environmental reasons and animal rights reasons, on top of spiritual reasons (being aware of the karma we incur). Perhaps the idea of switching to a plant-based diet may seem intimidating at first. But think of it this way. When you started yoga, didn’t some poses seem impossible too? Then through practice, what appeared to be impossible became possible, and what felt difficult eventually came with ease. We yogis know that practice comes a long way, and we can always take the first step and try. Yogis don’t encounter a difficult pose and just give up. We commit and persevere and try our best. As with our attitude to poses, so it can be with veganism as a means to save water and the Earth.
Ancient yogis are natural environmentalists. It is now time for us modern yogis to rise up to the challenge. The yoga sutra sthira sukham asanam— steady and joyful connection the Earth— is relevant today, perhaps more so than the day it was conceived as our situation is now more urgent than ever. It is time to understand what my teacher Sharon Gannon often says: The Earth does not belong to us, we belong to the Earth.