Ecology of Yoga
Deepen intimacy with ourselves and Earth
2022 Dates TBA
Yoga is rooted in the understanding that everything is interconnected – earth, water, fire, air, space, soil, animals, plants, cosmos, and all beings. Through sensory awareness and embodied consciousness, yoga strengthens one’s ecological awareness and highlights the interdependent nature of the relationship humans have with the Earth.
This Ecology of Yoga leadership intensive has significant components that deepen the practitioner’s awareness of this interconnection. Exploratory work with Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga – yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi – brings forth the ecological dimensions within each of these. When these yogic practices are experienced as integral with nature, they create enlivening pathways for healing our relationship with the planet.
This leadership intensive is for yoga practitioners and teachers who would like to bring forth an ecological and yogic perspective to all forms of leadership. Through the exploration of principles and practices of yoga and ecopsychology, participants learn how to lead from a grounded and heart-centered place. This leadership is cultivated by attuning to the senses and the environment, tapping into creativity, and practicing presence.
This intensive is strengthened by core practices of yoga and meditation, farmstead living skills, leadership processes, the arts, and a multifaceted approach to activism. The rich medley of these realms is offered intentionally to provide an enhanced vibrancy to our daily living and to stimulate possibilities for social and cultural renewal.
The program takes place at Metta Earth Institute, where participants are immersed in communal living with the resident team who care for the farm, gardens, and retreat spaces. Many opportunities for learning about ecological sustainability and intentional community happen within this environment.
After the training, Metta Earth faculty will support participants in catalyzing change back in their community with three mentoring calls to help clarify and activate the next steps in the leadership journey.
15 days: $1500 (including $500 deposit)
- Program, meals, and accommodations
- Three thirty minute life/leadership coaching consults after the training to help participants sustain change.
- Financial assistance may be available to those in need.
- Credit with your university or college is usually available as independent study. We will offer assistance, as needed, for this process.
Metta Earth is committed to making our program accessible to low-income individuals who normally would be unable to attend such a program. We have a limited number of full and partial scholarships available based on need. We prioritize scholarships for those from minority groups and inner-city backgrounds.
After having submitted a general application, please fill out a scholarship application by clicking the button below. Don’t hesitate to contact us if would like to receive additional self-fundraising advice and coaching.
This program is available for credit:
- 15 days, 150 hours, 3 credits
Metta Earth is nestled in the quietude of the mountains, the stunning headwaters of the New Haven river with abundant waterfalls and pools for swimming, wilderness trails to walk or bike, and 158 acres of Metta Earth land to explore.
Meals are vegetarian and lovingly prepared with seasonal, local and organic foods, much of our food comes from our own 3⁄4 acre organic garden and farmstead. Participants assist and have the opportunity to learn about harvesting, cooking, putting food by, and other aspects of organic, local food.
Options for sleeping accommodations include shared peaceful rooms in the main Metta Earth house, shared space in one of the yurts, or space to set up your own tent.
The Metta Earth main house provides bathrooms, laundry, phones, wireless internet, library, kitchen and dining facilities, and teaching, study, and practice space.
6:00 – 7:00am
Yoga (self guided practice)
7:00 – 7:30am
7:30 – 8:30am
Experiential Learning Activities
12:30 – 1:30pm
Lunch Community Meeting
1:30 – 2:30
Experiential Learning Activities
5:00 – 6:15pm
Metta Earth Yoga Class
6:30 – 7:30pm
7:30 – 9:30pm
- Metta Earth Yoga: Contemplative Ecological Practices for a Sustainable Future by Russell Comstock
- Quantum Community ~ The Archetype of Communion & Community, An Interdisciplinary Inquiry by Gillian Kapteyn Comstock
- Kripalu Yoga: A Guide to Practice on and Off the Mat by Richard Faulds
- Ecovillage Living: Restoring the Earth and Her People by Hildur Jackson
- Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate: At Work in the Wild and Cultivated World by Wendy Johnson
- Moving Like a Gardener by Deb Soule
- Radical Simplicity by Jim Merkel
- The World We Have: A Buddhist Approach to Peace and Ecology by Thich Nhat Hanh
- Radical Ecology by Thich Nhat Hanh
- The Soul of Nature: Visions of a Living Earth by Michael Tobias
- The Way of Council by Jack Zimmerman
Ecology of Yoga: Social Justice Theory & Practice
Environmental awareness and action is inexorably linked to social justice issues. Hence, leadership and communication processes, along with theories of oppression, become essential to eco yoga. Also, forms of activism enrich the possible dimensions for the expression of change.
- Co-Listening, NVC, and Conscious Communication
- Unconscious Communication
- Power, Privilege, Oppression, & Rank
- Eco Yamas & Niyamas
- Models of Activism
- Facilitation & Leadership Models
- Chaos & Creativity
- Sangha, Community, & Leader Ethics
Lunch & Community Connect
In an age when cell phones have begun to dominate the social landscape and meals are experienced as menus on a handheld mobile device, the reclamation of shared meals in community is nearly a radial experience and entirely necessary to reconnect with food and meal sharing as a potent dimension of culture awareness. Metta Earth meals, so often created from the foods on the farm, are an important opportunity for conscious exchange in food system thinking. Each day at lunch, meals are shared with conscious community practices to support awareness and learning.
- Mindfulness Meal
- Looking Deeply, I See
- Sentience of All Beings…Plant & Animal Foods
- Dharma Exchange
- NonViolent Communication
- Silent Meal
- Food Justice
- Seva Visions
- Gratitude Practice
Yoga Lifeways Practices For Ecological Sustainability
The ancient yogis studied and cultivated a holistic practice incorporating and valuing an interconnected relationship with nature. The Ecology of Yoga daily study is particularly focused on food systems, agricultural sustainability, ecological living, and a healing relationship with earth. We apply environmental resilience to survival by looking closely at soil health, restorative agriculture, and permaculture in order to have a healthy relationship with our food sources, processing techniques, and storage systems.
- Raw & Fermented Drinks & Foods & Plant Based Diet
- Tea Gathering & Tea Ceremony
- Plant Medicine
- Gardens:Vegetables, Herbs, Berries, Nuts
- Dairy, Kefir, Yogurt, & Cheese
- Breads, Sprouted Grains, Crackers, & Gluten Free
- Animals, Carbon Farming, Meat & Fiber
- Ayurvedic Foods, Nutrition, & Cooking
Metta Earth Yoga
These classes integrate the daily learning of philosophies, principles, and practices with an emphasis on supporting participants in the methodology/pedagogy required to create a whole systems educational experience.
- Asana: Natural Listening
- Asana: Elemental Body Scanning
- Planetary Asana
- Asana: Eco-Pranayama
- Asana: Silent Nature Walking
- Asana: Universal Drishti
- Asana: Earth Savasana
- Asana: Global Centering
The final evening program develops the notion of interconnection and a lived experience of sentient beings. The term “Interbeing” originates in the work of Thich Nhat Hanh and his teachings on the interconnection of all life. With artistic and imaginal sourcing, we naturally unfold the work of Joanna Macy and John Seed with the Council of All Beings, in which one is invited to deeply empathize with the myriad elementals and beings of nature to enhance the experience of love of Earth or Gaia. We culminate the creative exploration of these themes honoring music, dance, theater, and the gifts of the earth.
Ecology of Yoga Principles & Practices
Each morning will include an Earth Contemplation Practice, allowing time for solitude, expressive arts, journaling and sharing. This is a practice of meditation in nature, which includes Sense of Place exercises to develop ecological perception and enhanced awareness with the theme of the day applied to this inquiry.
In a series of sessions we delve into the unfolding of the Eight Limbs of Yoga to explore the brilliance of yoga’s ability to help us evolve from ego consciousness to the eco consciousness.
- Eight Limbs
- Yamas: Feeling
- Niyamas: Sanctuary, Beauty, & Creativity
- Asana: Embodiment
- Pranayama: Flow
- Pratyahara: Nothingness
- Dharana: Interconnection & Synergy
- Dhyana: Presence
- Samadhi: Communion & Eco Consciousness
Deep Ecology Meditations & Hermitage Process
During the intensive we will spend time in solitude with a focused meditation on various elements and aspects of nature, diving deeper with a 24 hour solo experience.
- Soil & Stone
- Wild Yoga Quest
- Integration: Bhakti Altars & Way of Council Yoga Quest Stories
Metta Earth Yoga
Daily, this class provides an opportunity for each participant to integrate the times of sourcing with practice teaching. The meditations on the elements enhances a deeper experience of nature and becomes the inspiration for this teaching. This practicum will engage the whole group in reflective feedback, team design, with full mentorship support.
We will spend some of the last evenings exploring our intentions for our return to our homes and communities, researching, networking, and designing ways that we can integrate the ecological and environmental aspects of yoga with social justice. Seva means service in Sanskrit and is a way for us to bring yoga into our lives and livelihoods for the benefit of all beings.
For more information about Metta Earth Yoga, see our page on Green Yoga and relevant articles.
Return to the main Ecological Leadership Intensives to learn more about the program, accommodations, and schedule.
Gillian Kapteyn Comstock
Gillian Kapteyn Comstock, MA, is the founding co-director of Metta Earth Institute and the Metta Earth project, which integrates regenerative farming, contemplative practices, community living, and sustainability education. Gillian offers mentoring, program facilitation, and leadership trainings.
As a holistic psychotherapist, certified permaculture designer, and advanced yoga guide, she synthesizes disciplines to support cultural renewal. She is dedicated to creating sanctuaries for others to experience vibrant presence.
With a passion for discovering the wild in mind, body, and earth, she has led yoga retreats, wilderness quests, and trainings in nature sanctuaries around the world.
For the last dozen years Gillian has intertwined this work with grounding in regenerative agriculture and focalizes this in the care of gardens and greenhouses, carbon farming and grazing processes with Icelandic sheep, Milking Shorthorn cows, and heritage breed chickens, as well as the growing and wildcrafting of herbal teas and medicines.
For more than two decades she has been a participant in the Assisi Institute community, which engages in a highly dynamic interdisciplinary investigation of Jungian psychology, creative process, mythology, and the new sciences.
A mother of three adult children and grandmother of five, Gillian has lived a life immersed in cooperative community, the gift economy, and innovative social processes resonate with natural systems and wild nature.
Russell Comstock, Co-Director of Metta Earth Institute, Inc., has given his life to living, learning, and loving. As stepfather for thirty years, Russell is dedicated to fathering, family, and community life. Always moved by the soul of earth, he holds an MA in Contemplative and Ecological Leadership and a BA in Human Ecology.
A practitioner of yoga for more than twenty years, he is certified in both Interdisciplinary and Jivamukti Yoga, and brings to all his teaching a spirit of embodied devotion. Russell is a founding member of the Green Yoga Association and serves on the Green Yoga Council. With extensive experience directing programs in wilderness, adventure, and experiential education, Russell integrates a steady intention to help humans connect more compassionately with earth and with each other.
He has trained as a quest and wilderness guide with Earth Rise Foundation, School of Lost Borders, and Outdoor Leadership Training Seminars. He has been a nationally certified Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician (WEMT) for many years, and now maintains a Wilderness First Responder certification. He has recently completed a handbook called: Metta Earth Yoga – Contemplative Ecological Practices for a Sustainable Future.