Exploring the Intersection of Yoga + Permaculture: Obtain a Yield


An abundance of watercress and papaya at Quixaya, a permaculture community in Guatemala.

An abundance of watercress and papaya at Quixaya, a permaculture community in Guatemala.

“The yield of a system is theoretically unlimited, or, limited only by the information and imagination of the designer.” Bill Mollison

The 3rd permaculture principle, “obtain a yield” refers to a way of life, rather than a single event or happenstance. It implies being intentional with your input and output and understanding that your energetic endeavours directly affect every outcome. In short: you reap what you’re sowing and get what you’re growing. Obtaining a yield involves consistently analyzing and reflecting on the fruit of your labor and the manor of your methods. It encourages us to consider how we are spending and investing our time, talent and treasures. 

“A true yield can provide us with abundant, unlimited output. An aligned yoga practice (sadhana) can provide abundance in our lives, bringing us energy and a connection to our true nature and to the earth.” (Awakened Spirit Yoga, Sacred Earth YTT Handbook). 

A permaculture lifestyle advocates that every part of a system should serve a purpose, and ideally a single element will have 3 functions, and each function will correlate to 3 elements. For example, chickens could serve the purpose of providing eggs, stomping on compost to help it decompose, and being cute and entertaining companions. The eggs may provide nourishment, shells for compost and be shared with neighbors. All the functions, elements and produce are intertwined. If elements prove to be nonfunctional, it is wise to reassess production and function in order to  constantly improve and refine your design and yield. Yields which increase upon use are incredibly invaluable. If we consider this through a yogic lens – breath is a vital tool, which consistently increases in strength and depth as you practice pranayama. Consider where this can apply in your own life.

How does obtaining a yield relate to your yoga practice & life calling? It is interesting that along with the definitions of: “To give forth a natural product; be productive. An amount yielded or produced; a product. To produce a return for effort or investment: bonds that yield well…” Yield is also defined as: “To give up, surrender or submit.” While giving up can be considered a way to hide, rather than an audacious act of integrity, yogis consider surrender a key value in practice. Contemplate how you can let go, let in and let be. What are you holding onto that you can let go of? What goodness are you resisting, that you can let in? What situations are you infinitely grasping for, that you can surrender to?  Where are you creating resistance and depleting your yield.

Yield is also defined as: “To give way to pressure or force. A profit obtained from an investment; a return. The energy released by an explosion, especially by a nuclear explosion, expressed in units of weight (usually kilotons) of TNT required to produce an equivalent release.” How can the energy built up through the cultivation of a consistent yoga practice brilliantly, calmly explode, releasing a greater capacity to realize & live your dreams? 

A yield can expand beyond monetary paper & corn fields, and can include the resources of new skills gained, community cultivation, friendships formed, lessons learned, intellectual and spiritual progress and anything you consider to be valuable. Imagine that your kindness is a currency and your personal values are as valuable as precious gems.

Is the investment of your time and energy in your daily work fruitful and fulfilling? Do you feel like the impact of your time is exponential, constantly growing and aligned with vibrant vision? Do you believe you have found your niche in life, that allows you to live in alignment? Are you receiving adequate compensation for your work and time? Do you feel camaraderie and companionship with your coworkers? Is your movement influencing your mind, body and spirit? Is your spirituality impacting your movement? 

I’ve heard spiritual teachers say, “I don’t have time NOT to pray.” In other words, are you ready to give up impermanent materials for resources of lasting value? What strategies do you implement when you obtain an excessive yield? Consider how you can preserve, expand and share your abundance, as well utilizing intelligent resourcefulness in times of need. What aspects of your life would you like to rebalance, redefine, redesign? What can you do today to implement and improve the elements and functions in your life? Please include your thoughts and ideas in the comments below! 

~ Arli ~ 

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