Exploring the intersection of yoga + permaculture: use and value diversity


Image by @vklee

Image by @vklee

Similar to the permaculture principle, Integrate Rather than Segregate, “Use & Value Diversity” applies to yoga, in that the integration of a plethora of sutras, genres, teachings and practices, can collaboratively, refine and define our unique path. Approaching our yoga practice with a holistic lens impacts our entire lifestyle. 

“Most Gardeners love to look through plant catalogs for new varieties of vegetables to grow, and such diversity isn’t just interesting, it’s also smart. There is less vulnerability to a single disease or pest when different vegetables and varieties are planted in proximity, whether it’s an entire farm or a backyard garden. During the Irish Potato Famine of 1845-1852, approximately one million people died and a similar number emigrated when a single widely grown variety of potato fell susceptible to a potato blight. In the Andes, where potatoes have been grown and developed for 5,000 years, thousands of varieties are cultivated. Each year, a permaculture garden should feature some new varieties along with old favorites. This will build a diverse repertoire of plants and create a balanced garden system that can tolerate some losses without the entire garden failing. This helps to ensure resiliency in the face of climate change and other ecological challenges.” Christopher Shein, the Vegetable Gardener’s Guide to Permaculture: Creating an Edible Ecosystem 

In the same way, we can find strength in numbers, in our unique individuality, creating the collective together, much like a patchwork quilt. As the African Proverb relates, “It takes a whole village to raise a child.” As human beings, we are a tribe. “Sangha is a Sanskrit word that means “association,” “assembly,” “company” or “community.”…In Buddhism, the Sangha is the third of the Three Jewels, along with the Buddha and the dharma (the teaching). Sangha is also closely connected to yoga. The shared sense of community among yoga practitioners (even internationally) has grown in recent years. This has helped novice yoga practitioners to assimilate more easily into yoga culture, while seasoned yogis are able to share their experience and lifestyle choices with a larger audience” Yogapedia.

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together” (African Proverb). 

The word diversity brings to mind conversations of skin color and sexuality. Diversity also relates to personality. What unique qualities do you radiate to the world? 

Mirriam-Webster defines diversity in the following way : 1 : the condition of having or being composed of differing elements : VARIETY especially : the inclusion of different types of people (such as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization 2 : an instance of being composed of differing elements or qualities : an instance of being diverse; a diversity of opinion.

As individuals, we can become stuck in our ways and resistant to change. I read a statistic that “there are over 20,000 species of edible plants yet only 20 species represent 90% of our food”.“We can’t tell you the exact number of different types of vegetables that exist in the world, but numbers are in the thousands. It is estimated that there are over 20,000 species of edible plants yet only 20 species represent 90% of our food. This has a big impact on agrobiodiversity but also on our diet, mainly due to distortion of the natural reality that has allowed us today to eat tomatoes, eggplants and watermelons all year round whenever we want… We understand that it is easier to eat the same things all the time, but it’s definitely not better for the environment or for you. So, if we want to eat better we need to start looking for different types of vegetables that we can produce locally” (noocity.com).

“A combination of skills, talents and attributes leads to productive, resilient and thriving ecosystems…Acknowledging the many functions of individual elements within a network means we can make the most of their participation in an ecosystem. For example, think of our amazing worms that decompose food scraps and garden waste, provide and transport nutrients to soil through vermicast and secretions, aerate soil, while educating children about life cycles…Ants are always busy at work, lifting, moving or carrying their discoveries from one place to another, or leading an expedition for food. They are fantastic at aerating soil and even better at seed dispersal. They make up one of the many elements of our food web. Our garden health and vitality depends upon a variety of plants and creatures to support its functioning. Diversity builds strength and stability = life balance. The elements within a polyculture garden all work together in synergy to enhance life of soil, microorganisms, insects, plants, and wildlife. How can you strengthen the connections, and support multiple functions so that one species doesn’t dominate all others? Diversity reduces vulnerability to a variety of threats and takes advantage of the unique nature of the environment in which it resides. Diversity is the very essence and joy of life. Human diversity is also key to creativity and a vibrant, healthy human society” (permaculture.org/uk). 

How can you implement diversity in the garden of your life? What new practices and elements can you incorporate into your daily routine to create resiliency in your life and practice? In what ways can you collaborate with other like-minded souls to create resounding synergy, radiating your values to society?

Sometimes I am adamant about putting all my eggs in one basket and like to call it a Plan A. Recently, I see the value of spreading out or scattering, expanding my horizons and territory. I travelled for 12 years and instead of being homeless, I found myself blessed with so many homes and gardens and families, pets and friends. I have a vegan diet, but if I were to have eggs and place them in a basket or elsewhere, where would I put them? If it were Easter, I could hide them all over the house like treasures for children to discover and uncover. Where are you placing your symbolic eggs? What have you grown and harvested that you’d like to preserve? Rather than placing your fruits all in one basket, you can share them, expand, invest, protect, restore, and reuse. What skills and abilities do you hold in your hand, in your basket, in your heart? How can you value your gifts and treasure them today? 

Love, Arli. 

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