Nature heals, dear yoginis and yogis.
Regular readers of my dear Yogibanker’s blog may recall that we recently visited Portugal and had a really eye-opening experience staying at Vida Pura, an amazing off-grid project in the Algarve. (Read the full article here). Inspired by this experience, I decided to learn more about this way of life.
I realised that, alas, teaching yoga, no matter how well-crafted my sequences may be and how much I care about my students, is not enough.
Not enough for individual people – the yoga classes help, but clearly the students would need further changes to their life in order to thrive, physically and mentally.
Not enough for our Western society either – with waste and water management under increasing stress, the understanding that our lifestyle is not sustainable is slowly becoming mainstream. But what to do about it?
So, off I went to La Loma Viva in Spain, a working farm and an international permaculture training centre. Permaculture, a grass-roots movement that started in Australia in the 1970s and is spreading like a healthy green vine throughout the world, creates connections between people of all walks of life and boasts impressive results when it comes to regenerating land and producing food in a sustainable way.
I took the two-week Permaculture Design Course, followed by a one week practical course called “From Seed to Table”, where we learnt about growing food and being self-reliant whilst regenerating the land. Both courses were led by Alex Kruger, an experienced teacher and farmer from South Africa, and they were amazing: whilst we received in-depth training, there was no need to have any previous experience, anyone could do it, as everything was well explained and structured.
I saw all of the Yogibanker Tribe’s Founding Principles held high: Ecological Sustainability of course, but also Sharing and Inspiring, Community, and Giving Back, as well as Quality over Quantity (Click here for the Overview of the Founding Principles). Our values came to life on this Spanish farm, lovingly nurtured by Karen de Vries and Ryan Botha, who have made this place their home.
Permaculture can be practiced everywhere – it is already happening in Detroit, in New York, in London, in Paris, as well as suburban areas worldwide, and of course, on many farms. Greening high-rise roof-tops, growing organic food in urban allotments, saving rain-water, exchanging seeds from heirloom plants to preserve biodiversity, showing children how to make preserves and fermented food… the important thing is to be in contact with nature, because humans have co-evolved with it. Many of our common ailments, both physical and mental, can be traced back to what Richard Louv calls “Nature Deficit Disorder”.
During my stay at La Loma Viva, my digestion and immune-system improved drastically, my creativity blossomed. I loved how quiet the nights were, and that I could finally see the stars again. From the feedback I received on my social media posts, I can see that this subject strikes a chord with many of my urban friends. If you can’t make it to a farm anytime soon, search online for a permaculture project near you – you’ll be pleasantly surprised how accessible they are. At the very least, give a few pretty succulents a home in your office – I bet you’ll change the vibe there in no time!