City living has its advantages but also disconnects us from Nature. This disconnection from the earth can be harmful to our health on every level. Why? Because the natural world has a certain rhythm, harmony, and balance that's hard to deny. When we cut ourselves off from Nature, or when we disrespect Nature, I think what we really experience is a discord that resonates within the fibers of our being and bears upon our own rhythmic processes of body and mind. We may get depressed, and become drawn to things that numb us out. Moreover, our work life can be busy increasing stress and ultimately causing more discord and even disease.
My favorite philosopher, Joseph Campbell, spoke to this concept in The Power Of Myth. He describes a pygmy legend that tells the story of the little boy who finds a bird that sings a beautiful song in the forest. He brings it home. He asks his father to bring food for the bird. The father does not want to feed a little bird, so he kills it. The father then immediately drops dead. So, the legend says, the man killed the bird, and with the bird he killed the song, and with the song he killed his own life. When human beings destroy their environment, they destroy their own nature too.
Yoga reconnects us to “the song of Nature.” The very meaning of the word Yoga is harmonious union, the idea of accord within and ultimately all around as well. Practicing yoga is an act of self-respect, and as the legend suggests: respecting ourselves and respecting Nature are tied. We become more integrated as we see ourselves as less separated from everything around us. we see how causing harm to other people and to the planet we all share is inherently harming ourselves. When we get into yoga we move energy. We take interest in our health and it feels good. With time, a dedicated yoga practice begins to influence how we decide to move through the world off the mat as well. We see all the time yoga practitioners evolve to making ethical purchasing decisions; trying to live a more sustainable lifestyle; eating healthy whole foods; and just wanting to be outside.
Yoga is sattvic and it draws us activities, people, foods, and places of high vibration as well. Sattva is a state of balance, joy and intelligence. When we are sattvic, we undoubtedly crave nature. So if you are inexplicably moved by your practice to want to get outside and into the natural world, then you're not alone. If you feel more conscientious about sustainable living and respecting nature, then this is an extension of the self respect you cultivate every time you show up on the mat. Yoga awakens the senses and moves us to unexpected places in every way. This is the natural evolution of the yogi and my hope is that the instinct be embraced and expressed in many ways.