What is Permaculture?

Building Chakra

Building my straw bale house at Anahata Retreat, New Zealand.

As a Permaculture teacher I’m often asked the question, “What is Permaculture”. The name Permaculture is derived from the words Permanent Agriculture. Permaculture is the development of systems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient. Bill Mollison and David Holmgren developed the philosophy of Permaculture approximately thirty years ago. They introduced a “design system for creating sustainable human environments” based on their observations of natural eco systems and maintaining a balance within these systems. Permaculture is a system that, if applied correctly saves energy, eliminates waste, leaves a miniscule carbon footprint, requires minimal work and is cost and eco friendly.

Many people today are under the impression that Permaculture is only the development of organic gardens. The keyword here is “DESIGN”. Permaculture is about how to design a property so that it flows with nature and all systems are interconnected and support each other. It is not limited to plant and animal production, but also includes community planning and development as well as sustainable, ecological philosophies for integrated systems. These systems may include aquaculture, agroforestry, windbreaks, swales, solar, hydro, composting toilets, ecological grey water systems and earth building. Permaculture gardens can include no-dig gardens, sheet mulching, companion planting, chicken tractors, solar greenhouses, worm farms, composting and organic pest control methods. The quality of the soil is very important in a Permaculture garden and many of these techniques are designed to achieve a pH-balanced soil and produce healthy, high volume fruit and vegetable yields.

A Permaculture property can be small or large acreage or a suburban block. Permaculture principles can be adjusted accordingly, however the basic principles apply for all size properties. The property is divided up into different growing zones. These zones are numbered from 0 to 5 with the main house being 0 and going outwards from there.

Zone 1: This is the area that is visited most often and is closest to the house. Zone 1 would include the main veggie and herb garden needing daily attention.

Zone 2: This is an area that requires some attention but can be irrigated and contains small fruit trees, berries, veggies like pumpkins, squash, corn and potatoes that have a long growing season, take up more room and require nominal attention. Zone 2 is also a good place for chickens and a milking goat…a little away from the house but within observation distance.

Zone 3: This would be a larger area or pasture that may include a main crop requiring minimal input, e.g. corn or a grain. It would also be an appropriate place for orchards and other larger animals.

Zone 4: This can be utilized for the growing of coppicing or timber trees for building or as a cash crop.

Zone 5: This area is generally along the lines of a wildlife corridor…felt to be important in Permaculture.

This is Permaculture in an organic nutshell!!!

Deep Ecology

The scientific definition of the term “ecology” relates to the study of the interrelationships and interactions between living things and their environments.  In Deep Ecology the central idea is that people are an essential part of the planet and not just separate and detached observers.  Deep Ecology emphasizes the interdependent nature of human and non-human life as well as the importance of the ecosystem and natural processes.

Definition of Yoga

The root of the word Yoga is yuj, meaning “to join, to yoke, to concentrate one’s attention”.  Yoga is a method of practice leading to a conscious union of the human being with universal existence, internally and externally. This includes practices, philosophy, and lifestyle to achieve peace, power, spiritual wisdom along with perfect health, a sound mind, and a balanced personality.

Practicing Yoga with awareness of Deep Ecology is working with the forces of nature, which are not just material energies but powers of consciousness.  Working with the forces of nature occurs at both internal and external levels.  Internally, we need to balance the forces of our own nature as body, mind, breath, and spirit.  Externally, we need to harmonize ourselves with the world of nature and with the Cosmic Spirit behind it.  Each one of us is a manifestation of the entire universe and only when we discover the universe within ourselves can we really understand our purpose in life.

Yoga is a way of harnessing the secret powers of nature within us to manifest our own higher natural potentials for a greater awareness. This requires a very deep connection with the world of nature in body, mind, and heart. It cannot be done mechanically or en masse, nor made into a franchise. It requires an individual orientation to the living world, which is not just human society but all that is.  We cannot truly think or live yogically without doing so in an ecological way as well.


Check out Anahata Yoga Retreat NZ for their October 2018 Permaculture & Yoga course. Combine Yoga, Permaculture and Deep Ecology for an unparalleled experience.    www.anahata-retreat.org.nz



Yoga (inner ecology) & Permaculture (outer ecology) – A Foundation for a Healthy & Sustainable Life

The outer environment is in danger from global warming, pollution, and myriad chemicals. As our toxic outer world spins out of control we become aware of the environmental dangers of disturbed emotions, disease, negative and aggressive thinking.

The external environment is a reflection of the environment within our bodies. When the external environment and ecology is out of synch, our inner ecology is also affected. The mental and emotional pollution within us needs to be restored and harmonised just as the outer pollution does. Yoga practices can restore the inner ecology and Permaculture practices can restore the outer environment and ecology…bringing back harmony and balance internally and externally. The two are intricately connected.

For inner and outer ecology we have to consider the food we are consuming…the soil and how the food is grown. If the food we eat is impure then our mind and thinking will be impure also. Food has a tremendous influence on our mind. It forms the mind as well as the body. If our environment is sick and depleted, we will become sick and depleted also. Through yoga we realize that it is our duty and responsibility to look after the two gifts we have been given, namely, the environmental complex upon which we depend for our survival, and the body-mind complex in which we live.

Combining Yoga & Permaculture is a foundation for a complete approach to living a sustainable and healthy life. Anahata Retreat in NZ invites you to join us in November for a unique Yoga & Permaculture Design Certificate course to learn how to balance these two important aspects of a sustainable, healthy life.

The last Permaculture & Yoga Course held at Anahata Yoga Retreat, New Zealand was such a huge success that we are offering the same course again this October.

Anahata Yoga Retreat
Yoga & Permaculture Design Certificate Course
4-22 October 2018 (18-day course)
+64 3 525 9887