Observe. Connect. Catch and store energy. Work with the edges. The same principles that guide our permaculture design are the same that guide our yoga practice.
For a decade, from 2007-2016, we operated the farm under The Rainbow Heritage Garden. This name has served us well and has come to be well known in the community. We are grateful for all that name has represented and the many, many changes, shifts and transitions is has seen us through. Over the past 10 years we have switched from growing vegetables in a sweet 1/4 acre garden to purchasing 50 acres of wildflower meadows, woodlands, and open agricultural fields. We now grow over 100 varieties of vegetables, herbs, fruits, nuts and trees. Our current land has allowed us many new opportunities like designing an off-grid farm and home from scratch and getting the unique ability to decide exactly how and where we wanted to build everything. With all of our main infrastructure now well in place we have started to invite our community to share and enjoy the diverse permaculture landscape we are creating here through on-farm festivals, events and tours, workshops in sustainable farming and living, wellness retreats, cooking classes, children’s summer camps, and a dedicated yoga studio. Our new name, Kula Permaculture Farm, reflects where are farm has evolved to and the special projects we have planned to enhance our local community well into the future.
Kula is a sanskrit work that can be translated as community, tribe, family, gathering or a coming together of people with similar ideas and values. This word is sometimes used to describe a yoga community to signify the inclusion and belonging that can be cultivated through yogis coming together to practice yoga. This community, or kula, is considered sacred because it is a group of people who come together freely, with intention and a shared sense of purpose. In this way, the traditional idea of yoga as a personal or individual practice can be expanded to include more social and ecological experiences of connection with others and the earth, as well as the self.
There is an intrinsic symbiotic relationship between yoga and permaculture. In the practice of yoga you can learn to heal your mind and body and soul, which gives you great grounding and connection when working with nature and permaculure techniques. Observe. Connect. Catch and store energy. Work with the edges. These same principles that guide our yoga practice also guide permaculture design.
Permaculture is a system of design that approaches human settlements–housing, energy use, food production and waste–the way a yogini approaches her thoughts, her breath and her actions. First, careful observation is made of what is already naturally occurring. Then, systems and practices are intelligently created, carefully integrating all aspects of the environment. Energy in the form of sunlight, rain and wind is captured and stored for use within the system. Edges, where two environments meet, are the most diverse places in the system. This is where we learn the most in our yoga practice–at our limits–and where energy and materials accumulate in nature.
Yogis and permaculturists share many of the same values. We recognize the fact that permaculture is a logical outward expression of the inner practice of yoga. It is yoga philosophy in action. We explore permaculture in relation to the yamas and niyamas–the foundational values of yoga. For example, we looked at satya, or truthfulness. In permaculture, truthfulness involves growing only what the conditions support. The true cost of food is also considered. Another example is that of brahmacharya, which is commonly thought of as celibacy or sexual restraint but we prefer ‘living a balanced and moderate life’. The desire for instant gratification of the senses drives us to purchase food and other commodities that may cause harm. Permaculture teaches patience and restraint. As we begin to seriously consider the true cost of the food we eat and the energy we burn, we realize someone has to pay, and if it is not us, then who? Permaculture is simply tuning back into the exquisite intelligence of life as it naturally occurs. We learn to dance with nature rather than trample over her.
While Yoga is the art of Union; bringing together mind, body and spirit in each individual. Permaculture is the art of sustainable self-sufficiency. When we practice yoga we are practicing loving observation. Observing the mind, observing the sensations of the body, and thus discovery of spirit. Through observation of the self we discover the essence of our inner spirit and true nature.
Permaculture also is all about observation. It is a system of agricultural and social design that supports self-sufficiency and sustainability to the entire ecosystem. Every pattern made by a plant, animal or element is considered in a permaculture system. Just like all qualities of human nature are considered in yoga; mental, emotional, physical, spiritual. All qualities of life are considered in permaculture. In both these systems it is believed that holistic observation is imperial to the success and well being of the environment and the individual. When we observe an ecosystem, we discover its natural patterns and rhythms and can work with this natural system to make it whole and complete.