9 Lessons from the Garden to Grow Your Yoga Practice

As one who believes that everything is connected, it is only natural that I would take cues from the garden and nature on how to grow my yoga practice.

And as I’ve learned over the past couple of years, the more I nurture my yoga practice the more I am embodying my truest self.

The more I dug (pun intended) into this comparison of gardens and yoga, the more I realized how similar the two are. If you’re struggling with committing to a yoga practice, or if yours has gotten a bit lackluster, I hope you will find inspiration within.

9 Lessons from the Garden to Grow Your Yoga Practice

1. Start With a Fertile Foundation

Garden Lesson:

The primary crop that gardens grow, above all else, is soil. No other crops will prosper to their fullest potential without that foundation alive and thriving.

Grow Your Yoga: 

Think of the soil as your mindset, state of mind, whatever you want to call it. It’s the seat from which you approach everything: relationships, career, your role as a human on this planet, and your yoga practice.

Nurture that asset by slowing down, meditating, getting in touch with your “inner landscape,” and by feeding it positivity and self-love. All good things will grow from there.

2. Everything Starts as a Seed

Garden Lesson:

We are an incredibly inpatient, instant gratification driven society. Gardening provides the exact opposite experience. There is an inherent need to be patient as you plant a seed, wait for it to take roots, break through the surface, and ultimately produce the fruits of your labor.

We are an incredibly inpatient, instant gratification driven society. Gardening provides the exact opposite experience.Click To Tweet

Grow Your Yoga: 

Are you practicing often but don’t see immediate muscle definition, weight loss, or any other superficial benefit you may be chasing? Let go of those expectations. Know that those things will come, but only when you tend to your seeds with the proper commitment, reverence, and surrendering to time.

The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, so make haste. Plant your “seeds” now (for things like flexibility, strength, or a calmer mind), then exercise a healthy dose of patience and stick with it.

The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, so make haste. Plant your 'seeds' now.Click To Tweet

3. Never Lose Sight of the Basics

Garden Lesson:

Water and sunshine are about as basic as it gets, and no garden can survive without them. When all else fails, checking in with those two elements is an uncomplicated path to return to the core of what all plants need.

Grow Your Yoga:

For a long time I wanted to master a forearm stand and max out my flexibility. When I reached those pinnacles of physical challenge, I didn’t feel any more at peace, or closer to being a yogi.

The breath and the mind are the most basic elements of yoga, and are always there for you to return to, offering that grounding foundation from which all else flourishes.

4. Utilize Beneficial Elements, Embrace The Detrimental Ones

Garden Lesson:

There is always going to be a myriad of threats to your crops, but how you choose to address them makes all the difference. You can plant dill to attract predatory wasps to lay eggs on caterpillars, marigolds to stave off beetles, and alliums, whose scent can confuse pests. So rather than combating this pesky part of the ecosystem with heavy artillery like pesticides, you can embrace the opportunity to utilize nature’s own pest control methods.

If you eradicate particular species unnaturally, or if there’s another outbreak in the future, you have eliminated the opportunities for the natural elements to combat them. In gardening we try to be good stewards of the land, leaving the delicate balance of nature alone.

In gardening we try to be good stewards of the land, leaving the delicate balance of nature alone. Click To Tweet

Grow Your Yoga:

Do you gravitate to yoga because you are in pain? Perhaps you are harboring guilt or trauma, struggling with toxic relationships or addiction, or you just don’t have a lot of self esteem? I first enjoyed yoga because of the mental relief the physical practice gave me. I would torture myself through endless asanas, reveling in the break from my looming thoughts. But after savasana the negativity was always there, yet again.

If you stifle the extreme or painful parts of your personality, or if you try to mask them with physical challenges/drugs or alcohol, you aren’t getting to the root of the issue. You’re essentially using a pesticide, and once your demons learn to get around the methodology of your quick fix, they will return with a vengeance.

Your yoga practice is about building the nutrients in the soil to embrace those extreme or painful elements. The goal is to create a calm environment that naturally attracts the good things and can live in harmony with the bad.

The goal of yoga is to create an environment that naturally attracts the good and can live in harmony with the bad.Click To Tweet

5. Community is Built Upon Collaboration and Shared Resources 

Garden Lesson:

From a distance, a single tomato plant can appear very simple and inconsequential. But when you really dig in to the ecosystem surrounding that plant, the world widens. There are microbes deep in the soil, insects that may help or hinder growth, birds that carry and drop seeds for new plants, and the sun and water which fuel every life force.

There is a story about a woman who planted two trees. When they were young she gave one tree nutrients, but not the other. As they grew their mycellium connected underground, and the lesser tree asked for nutrients. The other, more stronger, tree said yes. The woman was looking to determine whether the trees would talk to one another, and it was clear that they did.

This is one example of the interconnectedness of everything in nature, and a reminder that no successful garden gets there without millions of tiny collaborations, shared resources, and polyphony amongst plants.

No successful garden gets there without millions of tiny collaborations, shared resources, and… Click To Tweet

Grow Your Yoga:

What finally started to make things “click” for me was when I started my yoga teacher training. I was being led by two mentors, surrounded by a group of likeminded fellow students. My journey was being lifted up and supported by this network, proving the power of community.

Now that my training is long over, I retain this desire to connect and join forces with other light workers. I try to be that helpful tree who shares resources with those who are lacking. My practice is deeply sacred and personal, but what it gives me allows me to be someone who can give more than they used to take.

6. Leave Room for Wild Places

Garden Lesson:

The earth does not like to be barren, but it also doesn’t exactly enjoy the regimented rows of gardens. The goal is to create the right ecosystem for the area, and there are millions of seeds in the soil lying dormant everywhere just waiting for the right conditions to bloom. They are called pioneer species, and they’re the first thing to condition the earth for perennials.

My garden is surrounded by woods and wild spaces that are untamed. This is important because it envelopes the tended plot in a sanctuary of beauty, natural shading, fire and wind protection, and it gives space for what would naturally occur here.

Grow Your Yoga:

If we didn’t live in this electronic, overwhelming world, your brain would be more like the woods and natural ecosystem. In yoga you’re striving for the forest, not the garden.

In yoga you're searching to undo of all the negative learned behaviors, habits, lingering thoughts,… Click To Tweet

When you practice yoga, you’re taking the manicured garden spaces of your mind and letting the weeds and pioneer species come up. You are working towards embodying a wild and untamed state of mind, fully realizing the innate characteristics of who you are at your core.

7. There is No End to The Growing Season

Garden Lesson:

The growing season follows a cyclical pattern throughout the year, and each phase serves a purpose. In the winter, dormancy and rest is an essential part of keeping the cycle balanced. In the summer, the pattern turns to growing, maximizing, and perpetuating.

Each phase is necessary, valuable, and not without its challenges. The constant flux is what keeps it all working and moving forward.

Grow Your Yoga:

There’s a reason yoga is referred to as a “practice.” Sometimes the more you figure out, the harder you have to work to enact those revelations and changes.

At times you may be reaping the benefits of your practice and feeling strong, balanced, and whole, but you have to be aware of the fleeting factor. When you’re feeling those high vibrations and living for the sweat, be sure to balance the intensity with some chill hours of calm, collected meditation.

When you're living for the sweat, balance the intensity with some chill hours of calm, collected meditation.Click To Tweet

8. Diversity is Imperative

Garden Lesson:

Monocultures are an unsustainable farming practice, and they’re doing serious damage to our planet. Gardens need variety and diversity in order to thrive, for the benefit of all crops and surrounding plants and species. The more the merrier, in the the right dosage and balance, of course.

Grow Your Yoga:

If all you practice is invigorating power yoga, you’re missing the rejuvenating benefits of practices like yin or restorative yoga (and vice versa). Sticking with one style or one teacher eliminates the possibility of growing, expanding, and widening the breadth of your practice.

9. The Do-ing is More Important than the Having

Garden Lesson:

Knowledge is a more important asset than any physical tool, and nature is the best teacher. Tend with the aim of harmony and reverence, not control.

With gardening you can get wrapped up in the fancy stuff: the tools, the shortcuts, the most successful methods… but what works for someone else and their plot may not work for you. My garden is not manicured enough for the pages of a magazine, but I like it that way. Often the prettiest garden is indicative of unnatural elements like pesticides, so I don’t seek to have perfection.

Grow Your Yoga:

Just as you don’t need a yard or picture-perfect produce to grow a successful garden, you don’t need designer spandex or a picturesque studio to practice yoga in. I have practiced alongside people dressed in beautiful clothes that were clearly not present in the flow, or comfortable in their own bodies.

Good vibes come from a vibration that cannot be manufactured. Yoga is not about envying how someone looks, or how their body takes the shape of a posture. It is about the substance of the being behind it.

Good vibes come from a vibration that cannot be manufactured. Click To Tweet

Humans have worked hard to become separate from nature and feel as if we are above or in control of it.

If you can clear your mind enough, and reconnect with that primal state of being, you realize that you are just a tiny part of a larger system. Yoga presents the opportunity to revel in the authentic individuality that erupts through practice.

Clear your mind, reconnect with that primal state of being, and realize that you are a tiny part of a larger system.Click To Tweet

What are you growing these days?



Betsy Brockett was diagnosed with Mesothelioma at the age of 28, and continues to thrive despite the challenges that cancer has created in her life. Holding a degree in Art & Visual Technology from George Mason University, Betsy expresses herself through writing, photography, painting, pottery, and more. She is most often found cultivating, creating, practicing/teaching yoga, or simply enjoying the beauty of life.

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