Seane Corn, whose teaching and activism also feature in our Yoga column this month, is an impassioned environmentalist who recently joined the growing community of yogis speaking up for the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary. Yogis Unite is delighted to feature this trailblazer for living yoga in the West.
Parvati Magazine: What is the connection between yoga and compassion for the environment?
Seane Corn: It means to me there can be no conversation about yoga without including the environment. Yoga means to come together and make whole; and it recognizes the interdependency of all things. When we live in dominance over anything, whether it’s animals, each other or the planet, then we otherize, we create separation and we create an unequal power dynamic that can only create more division and more harm. Putting our attention back onto the planet as a yogi is absolutely essential.
When you think about the environment you think in terms of permaculture. Permaculture is always dependent upon relationships. If one relationship is disordered it cannot be sustainable. Yoga is essentially the same thing. It’s about that interdependency, that connection. It’s about relationship.
Parvati Magazine: How can yogis positively contribute to the environment movement and bring awareness to causes such as the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary?
Seane Corn: We need to heal ourselves. We need to recognize and take ownership for that interdependency and recognize that if we are disordered we are going to inevitably destroy our planet. But when we are whole within ourselves the planet will also be healed and whole.
Where are you are out of alignment, in body, mind and spirit? What are you doing to yourself that is not sustainable, whether it’s your diet or your attitude, or your perceptions? Begin the process of healing it. Then it’s just really looking at the ways in which you contribute to the world around you.
As an environmentalist I have to recycle. I have to be aware of the amount of waste I produce each and every day. I want to be aware of what resources are being used to get the food to my plate, so perhaps I want to eat seasonally. I want to eat locally, organically. I want to look at the companies I’m putting my money towards. I want to look at the politicians and who I’m voting for. What’s their relationship to the environment? What are the policies they’re enacting, and how do I hold them accountable?
There are so many small ways and big ways in which we can engage in environmental change and support the direction our environment is going, by being proactive in our individual choices and holding our leadership accountable as well.
Parvati Magazine: Why is Yogis Unite important to you? What role do you see the yoga community playing so we can all establish a more sustainable relationship with the planet?
Seane Corn: Yogis Unite is important to me because using my voice and platform in a way that raises awareness, supports environmental or social change, is very important to me. Aligning myself with organizations who have the resources and have taken the time to educate themselves to support a movement for this kind of change, these are the relationships I want to be a part of. These are the people I want to know and align my own intentions with. Being a part of Yogis Unite is for me a no brainer. This is something I can speak to and want to speak to and I hope that more yogis would also be willing to use their platform, whether they have five students or 5,000.
We want to try to reach as many people as we possibly can with this message of ahimsa, do no harm and look beyond our own personal wellness, broaden it. I cannot be well if you’re not well. We cannot be well if this planet is not well. If I’m interested in my own wellness then I better make sure I’m tending to this planet and that’s what I want other yogis to consider and be proactive about within their own experience.
Seane Corn is an internationally celebrated yoga teacher known for impassioned activism and inspirational teaching. She co-founded Off the Mat, Into the World® and the Seva Challenge Humanitarian Tours, raising $4.5 million since 2007. Her DVDs are available through Gaiam and Yoga Journal, and “The Yoga of Awakening” through Sounds True.