One of the most amazing things about living in Hawaii is that it is extremely easy to live off the land. You can survive without shopping centers, gyms, yoga studios and fast food establishments. Sure, they have them there but it is easily enough to choose the more natural and sustainable way of living.
The ocean, pristine beaches and land is both your playground and your source for nutrients. The land itself is refreshing, revitalizing and rejuvenating in every way. There is access to fresh, local & organic food everywhere. And, there is an abundant of space to run, walk, hike, cycle and of course practice yoga.
This is why we choose to facilitate our Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy course and Ayurvedic Cooking course on the Big Island of Hawaii. There are many outdoors and indoor places where you can practice yoga here. In fact, it is not uncommon to see individuals or groups of people practicing yoga in the parks, beaches and other open spaces. It seems Hawaii is becoming a Yoga Mecca for many.
I lived and visited many extraordinary tropical islands and countries such as the Cayman Islands, Bali in Indonesia, Thailand and other places in South East Asia. They are all very nice and beautiful but I have never seen as much abundance of natural resources as I have in the Hawaiian Islands.
The Big Island of Hawaii, which is the largest island in the chain of the Hawaiian Islands, is abundant with orchids, farms, beaches and botanical gardens. It makes it easy to eat healthy and live sustainably with its numerous markets and fresh local vegetable and fruit stands scattered across the island.
Hawaii also has numerous local health food stores where you can buy both local and imported organic foods, if needed, to suit your healthy eating habits.
On this Big Island, we spend a lot of time in Pahoa which is on the east side of the Island. It has a very hippy sort of feel. People camp here, live off the land and seem very happy and peaceful. Cars have bumper stickers here saying keep it local or keep The Big Island GMO free.
Most of the people we have encountered in Hawaii are very friendly, open and giving. The locals here want to preserve the land and so they continue to produce organic food and natural resource without having to rely too much on importing goods. Many live off the grid utilizing solar power and filtered rain water for energy and resources.
It can be an adventure talking to the locals – having them tell you interesting island stories or the history of the island and how traditional Hawaiians used to live.
Here is what I have learned and what I would like to share with you about pre-colonial Hawaiian life and their sustainable practices which involved protecting the water, wildlife and plants to sustain life all around them.
A typical land division known as an Ahupua’a stretched from the highest point in the mountains down to the sea. Its boundaries usually followed watershed lines providing each community with fresh water, fertile land, abundant marine life and forest resources.
The Ahupua’a system recognized the connection between the health of the mountains, the ocean and the communities of people and wildlife that shared the natural resources; especially fresh water which was the key to sustaining wellness of the island.
The ancient Hawaiians were able to sustain large, healthy populations (much more than are present today) without compromising their ecosystem’s integrity. Their Ahupua’a system minimized soil erosion, managed water springs, and maintained a large diversity of fruits, nuts, taro and vegetable crops so they could live in abundance and comfort.
Taro, the Hawaiians most important staple food crop was gown on the valley floors, where the most fertile soil is concentrated. They used walled terraces and these practices are still used today. Their houses were built on hillsides and in sandy areas in order to preserve prime agricultural lands.
Fundamental to the Ahupua’a system and communities included active participation and involvement. Everybody was responsible for upholding the principles and practices of sustainability by working together to maintain their land and community health. It was understood that healthy sustainable ecosystems provided important services, necessary resources and above all, a sense of well-being.
Today the people of Hawaii have done a good job in preserving and sustaining land. The people here are looking to move towards more self-sufficient communities and a way to bring back more of these values and methods used in the past.
Over half of the world’s population today lives in cities and are often disconnected from the environments and resources that sustain them.
By visiting a place like Hawaii and learning the historical and present models of sustainably, especially in relation to food and agriculture, we can gain wisdom and inspiration for how to live healthy around the world both now an in the future.
Photo courtesy of Sara Elizabeth