Yoga is the First Act of Ecology | Mark Whitwell

Mark Whitwell | Heart of Yoga

Mark Whitwell | Heart of Yoga
Mark Whitwell | Heart of Yoga

Yoga is the first act of ecology. It is taking care of the wild of Mother Nature that is the body and the body’s relationship with its context — the beauty, intelligence and harmony that is our cosmos. When you are intimate and sensitive with the natural in the form of your own embodiment, then this sensitivity seamlessly flows outwards into a life of care for everything and everyone.

The cultures of patriarchal civilization have convinced humanity that we are separate from our bodies, separate from others, and separate from Mother Nature. Everyone is living as if we are separate; alien wanderers on a bleak planet of resource. We are seeing the effects of these cultures like never before.

Orthodox religion with its denial of the Earth in the name of a future heaven has been foundational to the current process whereby our Mother is being turned in an uninhabitable desert. My teacher U.G. Krishnamurti would say,

“Man’s Heaven has created a Hell out of this abundant paradise.”

Indigenous leaders around the world have been saying for decades that it is the way that we are relating to ourselves and the natural world that needs to change. What we see as sacred, we will treat with reverence. What we see as a resource, we will treat as a consumable item.

Until we give the anciently evolved Yogas of humanity back to humanity, that is the indigenous (natural) life of intimacy adapted to the modern world, there will be no shift in the attitudes that civilization was built upon. There will be no fundamental change to man’s fearful exploitation of Mother Earth.

Each one of us is responsible to get the job done because, let’s face it, the politics and the corporations are not doing it.

Mark Whitwell | Heart of Yoga

You Are the Beauty

Everything in the natural world is utterly beautiful. Have you noticed? You and everything else in Mother Nature are arising in the beauty. Yoga is your easy alignment in body and mind to the beauty, power, harmony and intelligence of the cosmos that is your prior or natural state before society assumed otherwise. It is not about getting somewhere because it is already true.

People have become allergic to the very idea that there is something positive in the individual’s desire to refuse the constraints of culture and to step out of them into a life of autonomy and freedom. Because the very idea that the individual can make significant changes to their life (irrespective of the social conditions) has become synonymous with the denial of social conditions that need to change.

But it is not an either-or situation. Everybody knows that when you feel free, when you feel able to carve through life going in your chosen directions, when you are intimate with your deepest desires and can act upon them, when you are in touch with an inalienable center of peace within your heart, when you know yourself to be held within the nurturing context of Mother Nature, then this intimacy with Self inevitably flows outwards to others.

Your friends, family, partner, and community are the immediate beneficiaries of your practice of intimate embrace.

By contrast, when we feel fearful and passive, as if our lives are determined wholly by forces outside of our control, separate from our agency, and alienated from the natural world, we tend to retreat from any kind of robust engagement with the world.

The Taveuni Chief’s Meeting Hall with Mark Whitwell | Heart of Yoga
The Taveuni Chief’s Meeting Hall with Mark Whitwell | Heart of Yoga
The Taveuni Chief’s Meeting Hall with Mark Whitwell | Heart of Yoga

Real Practice

Authentic Yoga (not commercial gymnastics!) is the easy means by which anybody of any age, health, body-type, and cultural background can utilize the power of the breath to link their mind to the nurturing, harmony, peace, and power of the whole body and the body’s relatedness to Mother Nature. In that embrace, the shackles of fear and the negative imposition of culture falls away. Over time, gradually and suddenly, the intrinsic autonomy of our lives takes over. And we live in a different way.

It must be acknowledged that our lives have been flooded with shoddy goods sold in the spiritual and self-help marketplace that simply do not work and only get us further mired in our own egos. The cynicism directed towards tools for personal change is valid. But we need not let the toxicity of the world pollute what remains honest, valid, and true. We can remain discerning without denying the possibility that real change is possible.

The ancient technology of Yoga, as it came through from the wisdom traditions of India via Tirumalai Krishnamacharya (1888–1989), is a cultural treasure for humanity. It arose within an indigenous culture that saw God, deity, guru, body, spouse, and everything in the natural world as arising in the One reality in which everything is happening. It was there for people who were feeling in any way restricted in body or mind from the fact that they are held in and as the vast harmony of the cosmos, of Mother Nature. Positive change occurs gradually and suddenly as we move and breathe and relax into the natural state.

When humanity turns to its primordial Yogas of participation in the given reality, this Yoga that was there prior to man inventing the doctrines of seeking that have seemed to separate humanity from our natural state, when intimacy with life is given to human life then we will clean up the planet en masse.

It is time to give this to the world urgently.

Mark Whitwell

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Mark Whitwell has worked as a Yoga teacher around the world for the last 45 years, and is the author of four books on Yoga. https://www.heartofyoga.com/blog/