Quick! Take 30 seconds and think of everything you can possibly do to combat climate change. Done? We’re guessing that yoga wasn’t on that list. But India’s new prime minister thinks that his country’s ancient practice could actually help save the world. According to Grist, India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi – who failed to attend the U.N. Climate Summit in 2014 – has a vision for a green future that involves practicing yoga in order to change the way we approach consumption.
“We can achieve the same level of development, prosperity and well-being without necessarily going down the path of reckless consumption,” Modi told the United Nations General Assembly on Saturday. “It doesn’t mean that economies will suffer; it will mean that our economies will take on a different character. For us in India, respect for nature is an integral part of spiritualism. We treat nature’s bounties as sacred. Yoga is an invaluable gift of our ancient tradition. Yoga embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and wellbeing. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day.” Modi’s goal was realized on June 21st, when the first International Yoga Day was held.
That being said, the rest of his speech to the U.N. was pretty common stuff about fulfilling material needs of citizens and alleviating poverty by providing citizens with access to basic sanitation and electricity. “When we think of the scale of want in the world — 2.5 billion people without access to basic sanitation; 1.3 billion people without access to electricity; or 1.1 billion people without access to drinking water — we need a more comprehensive and concerted direct international action,” he said. “In India, the most important aspects of my development agenda are precisely to focus on these issues. The eradication of poverty must remain at the core of the development agenda and command our fullest attention.”
According to Grist, there was little mention of climate change in relation to the above, but Modi did mention that he does have an eye to reducing emissions as the country moves forward. “We need to change our lifestyles,” he said. “Energy not consumed is the cleanest energy.” Modi is also working to boost India’s solar power capacity, which is important, given that India has the fourth highest-rate of greenhouse emissions in the world.