Green Yoga or Eco-Yoga

by Russell Comstock

“Green Yoga or eco-yoga is a recent expression of yoga that draws upon the ancient nature-based roots of the tradition to emphasize awareness of our inherent interdependence with all of nature. Metta Earth Yoga does not differ significantly from classical yoga as far as the physical poses are concerned; the postures already have a deep association with nature…. In Green Yoga, we reintroduce the awareness, the metaphor of nature, with the overall goal to bring the fact of our interdependence to the fore. Green Yoga is focused on looking at the ecological dimension of the ancient practices of yoga.”

An intentionally green orientation to contemplative practice particularly supports thoughtful engagement with today’s ecological challenges. This plays out in hundreds of possible ways. While recently traveling in Costa Rica with his wife, Russell said that as they were on a bus moving through an industrial area outside the capital city of San Jose, his wife turned to him and said, “As I look deeply, I can see the result of my actions.” They both understood in that moment that their travel on the bus through this industrial area was a part of co-creating that environment and its ecological impact. A deeper discussion of ecological impact ensued and a natural desire to make conscious change resulted.

How will this be experienced in the Metta Earth Practice retreats?

Both retreats will offer two to three eco-yoga sessions each day, interspersed with periods of zazen. According to Russell, “These retreats will provide a doorway to look at the ecological impact of our actions through Zen and Yoga. We awaken this awareness through a lens of reverence and deep understanding for interconnection that sustains us. Inspired by such awareness, it is natural to care about our environment and make conscious choices for positive change”.

The weekend retreat will provide an introduction to the field. This experiential exploration into the ecological roots of Yoga and Zen will include presentation, discussion and reflection on the classical teachings as well as the ecological dimensions of both Zen and Yoga. Those new to Zen and Yoga are welcome. No experience of green yoga is necessary for either retreat.

The five-day retreat provides an opportunity to explore on a deeper level: “What are the practices that allow us to strengthen our foundations, allowing us to move off the mat and off the cushion and take it into the world? We will move out from the zendo and the yurt in order to have some kind of eco-yoga experience outside every day.” Russell and Robert will work with a question or theme each day, weaving in different practices that help look at those themes. Retreatants will spend time on these practices with the group and on their own. Although the longer retreat is ideal for those with some familiarity with Yoga or Zen, all are welcome.

Responding to the stubbed toes of the world

These ancient traditions arose in a time when nature was enormously present in all aspects of life,” Russell said. “Conversely, In the modern world, we can see the imbalances we live with all around us. Thus we might ask, what has allowed the sense of majesty and reverence to diminish? Where is the quality that would evoke devotion and compassion in us individually and culturally? When you stub your toe, you immediately reach down to take care of it. Green Yoga and Zen practice is a way to reach down inside ourselves and respond to the stubbed toes of the world. It is not about ‘should’; it is about opening up to the natural response of compassion for all things.”