Earth Day Discussion: Ahimsa & Our Planet

By: Steph Ball-Mitchell, E-RYT-500, RPYT, RCYT, YACEP

earth day meditation ahimsa and earth day

Every year on April 22, we reflect on our responsibility and opportunities to support environmental protection as we celebrate Earth Day.  It takes all of us working together as a community to keep our planet livable and to maintain a healthy earth.  

What is Earth Day?

While Earth Day is not considered a national holiday, it is a special day that asks us to give pause to the hustle and bustle of daily life and recognize the ways that we can make a difference for our planet.  The belief is that if we all do our individual part to care for our beautiful planet earth, together we can make a difference.  

Issues that are often addressed on Earth Day include:

  • air and water pollution
  • recycling
  • composting
  • climate change
  • erosion
  • ecosystems and rain forests
  • efficient cars
  • carbon footprints
  • renewable power and renewable fuels

History of Earth Day

Earth Day was founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson on April 22, 1970.  This happened after the idea of Earth Day was introduced at a UNESCO Conference in San Francisco in 1969.  By 1990, Earth Day was recognized internationally, not just in the U.S.  

Ahimsa and Planet Earth

We often talk about how earth day fits into the yoga community and why it is such an important day for those of us that honor the sacred 8-limb path of yoga laid out in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras.  

In our 8-limb path of yoga, we learn that the first of the 8 limbs are the yamas.  Yama means quite literally "bridle" in Sanskrit.  A bridle is the headgear that is used to control a horse.  In this sense, yama refers to "restraints" which is the most common translation in the yoga world.  There are five yamas that serve as our personal observances.  I like to think of them as external disciplines.

The first of the five yamas is ahimsa.  Ahimsa means non-harming.  In Sanskrit the prefix a means “not,” while himsa means “harming, injuring, killing, or violence.”  The literal interpretation of ahimsa is non-harming or non-violence.  We often see it summed up as "kindness," but I think it is important to take a look at the literal meaning and explore that as we open the discussion of yoga and earth day.  

Knowing that the yamas are the first step of the 8-limb path, we find that ahimsa is step one of step one in the ancient practice of yoga.  Long before we roll out our yoga mats, we are called upon to practice our yamas, our external disciplines.  Ahimsa is often said to be the most important of the five yamas and the yama that informs all other yamas. 

The deeper that our practice goes, the more natural ahimsa becomes.  Our practice draws us into this space of mindfulness and peace that informs our speech, choices and lifestyle.  We realize that non-harming is a practice that we must extend to ourselves, those we interact with and our environment.  The commitment to do no harm begins to guide us, and we start to search for opportunities to be kind to ourselves, the people in our lives and Mother Earth.  

Yoga for Earth Day

Earth Day is the ideal time to practice ahimsa on and off the mat.  If you're looking for creative ways to express your gratitude for our planet earth on the mat, here are some creative ideas:

  • Practice grounding asanas - Our hips and legs are tied to the earth element and the root chakra. Grounding yoga postures can help us to keep our root chakra in balance while helping us stay grounded and connected to the earth.  Some postures that can help you feel grounded are Baddha Konasana (bound angle pose), Balasana (child's pose) and Tadasana (mountain pose).
  • Hold your yoga postures longer - Holding your yoga postures a bit longer than you normally would can help to increase our awareness and deepen our mindfulness while pulling in earth energy
  • Practice grounding pranayama - Practice a grounding pranayama like Diaphragmatic Breath (deep belly breathing).  Imagine that you're a tree with roots that are deeply rooted and as you inhale, envision your breath flowing down into your roots.  
  • Dedicate your practice - One of the most powerful things we can do when practicing yoga is to dedicate our practice.  Dedicating our practice gives it meaning and adds purpose to every breath and every movement.  Dedicating your practice to ahimsa can inspire you to gather all of the loving earth energy you create on the mat and take it with you off the mat and into the world.

Ways to celebrate Earth Day Off the Mat:

There are many ways that you can celebrate earth day.  Some of the most common ways that people work to keep the earth healthy include:

  • Participate in Seva by volunteering to clean up your community parks and streets 
  • Support your local recycling programs
  • Shop green businesses
  • Stick with re-usable products over disposable products
  • Repurpose those items which you no longer need 
  • Shop thrift stores 
  • Purchase and/or use energy-efficient appliances
  • Line dry your clothes after washing
  • Walk or ride your bike as much as possible
  • Carpool when possible
  • Minimize your car trips when and how you can 

To learn more about ahimsa, join is in our 250 Hour Yoga Teacher Training Online, RYT-250

Earth Day Meditation Video

Melissa Zegley, RYT-500, Reiki Master, CMT-500, Grand Master of Meditation

Earth Day Meditation Script

By: Melissa Zegley, RYT-500, Reiki Master, CMT-500, Grand Master of Meditation

Earth Day Meditation Script:

Since a protest on April 22nd, 1970 against the exploitation of our environment. April 22nd has been celebrated around the world as a holiday in honor of protecting our Mother Earth.

Today, no matter where you are, take a few minutes to bask in gratitude for Earth’s incredible gifts.

I invite you to find a comfortable seated or reclined position with one hand on your heart and one hand on the ground. If you are able to find a quiet place outside, that would be ideal. If you are indoors, visualize your connection with the Earth.

Take several deep, grounding breaths. 


Allow your breath to settle into its natural rhythm and turn your awareness to your senses. 

Whether you are outside or inside, you should notice sounds, smells, and sensations coming from the environment around you.

Without judgement, simply notice what your mind and body are experiencing. 

Bring your awareness to your heart center and the love that you find there. Love for yourself, others and our Mother Earth.

As you inhale, imagine you’re filling your heart with love. With each breath, feel the love in your heart expanding outward to fill the space around you and allow it to grow steadily.

As your heart overflows with love, bring to your mind the many things you feel grateful for. 

You may think of your own healthy body, people you love, nourishing food, clean water and air, and a comfortable home. 

Feel the power of your gratitude to amplify the love radiating from your heart, eventually encompassing Earth and all of her creatures, big and small.

Now, shift your awareness to Mother Earth. Consider that everything you experience, love, and feel grateful for is made possible by the incredible planet that sustains you. 

The air you breathe, the water you drink, the food you eat, and the materials that build your home and clothing all come from the life-giving planet you call home.

Take this moment to silently thank the Earth for all that you appreciate in your life. Expand your appreciation to all that exists simultaneously and harmoniously on the planet.

Close with the mantra, “Healing the Earth begins with my own healing. Love on the planet begins with the love in my own heart.”

*Adapted from Kaia Roman’s Guided Meditation for Earth Day

Enhance Your Meditation Practice

Join Melissa in our 200-hour online meditation teacher certification to take your meditation practice to the next level as you learn how to guide others through meditations. While celebrating Earth Day, be sure to check out ayurveda tips for the Spring

About the Authors

Steph & Melissa

Steph and Melissa Online Yoga SchoolL - Steph Ball-Mitchell, E-RYT-500, RPYT, RCYT, YACEP
R - Melissa Zegley, RYT-500, Reiki Master, CMT-500, Grand Master of Meditation

Steph is the founder of Online Yoga School and Yoga & Ayurveda Center and is the lead trainer for the RYT-250, RYT-300 and Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training (RPYT), Children's Yoga Teacher Training (RCYT).

Melissa is a celebrated Reiki Master, the founder of Zen with Zegley, the Meditation Director for Online Yoga School and Yoga & Ayruveda Center, and the lead trainer of Online Yoga School's CMT-200 and CMT-300 Meditation Teacher Training Programs.