Yoga is a total waste of time.
As a teenager, that's how I felt. Obnoxious, heavy breathing, folding into uncomfortable poses: it looked pointless and dull. Zoom forward a few years and a tumultuous term at university left me searching for solace and prompted me to give the practice a try.
As I took those first reaching breaths, I felt the tension dissipate. We moved through sun salutations, I forgot my worries and just focused on my breath. I left the session feeling lighter and got what I'd been missing out on.
After university, I steered myself away from hardcore Saturday night boozing followed up with bags of potato smiley faces on hungover Sunday mornings. I began to care more about my health. I wanted to be stronger and fitter, so I could surf better, climb mountains faster and snowboard for longer.
I took up running, completed my first half marathon and trained to become a yoga instructor. The greater my love of fitness and yoga grew, the more I cared about what I was putting into my body and how this affected the world around me.
As I travelled through France, Switzerland, Australia and Bali, I spent more time in nature and started to connect the way I was living to the environment. I saw Coke bottles littering oceans and cut down my plastic usage. I learnt how destructive commercial fishing trawlers are and gave up eating fish. I started prioritising organic food and using animal-friendly beauty products. I stopped buying bottled water after learning about BPAs leaching into water and ultimately polluting the planet.
I'm not alone. There's a growing connection between the rise of the health and wellness industry and environmental concern. Ninety-four per cent of British people believe protecting the environment is important to them personally, according to a study by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The same study shows that the per cent of Brits believe our well-being and quality of life depends on it.
In fact, it is younger generations that are leading the way. Over one-third of Generation Y (those born between 1977-1998) "buy as many green/eco-friendly products as they can", according to this study. The biggest growth is the natural/organic haircare and skincare market.
"I really try to limit the amount of chemicals I absorb on a daily basis," says naturopath and nutritionist Melanie Atkinson. Since finding her career path, Melanie has noticed the connection between her own health and caring for the environment. She carries a glass water bottle everywhere and limits her food waste by buying locally and only what she needs.
"I choose organic vegetables which aren't wrapped in plastic. It's so important we get rid of terrible pesticides that negatively affect our bodies and the insects we need to grow food," she adds. Melanie is also a huge fan of natural beauty products. "I love buying my beauty products from Love Lula. Choose these over products containing harmful chemicals which are often tested on animals."
If you are already practicing yoga, keeping fit or thinking about going vegetarian, then you are probably beginning to question wider environmental concerns. Where can you go from here?
Firstly, give up single-use plastics, like plastic water bottles and straws. These pollute our oceans, rivers and mostly end up in landfills. Endocrine disrupters like BPAs are found in plastic. They can leach into your water and affect your hormones. Scary.
Buy organic vegetables and avoid herbs in plastic packaging. Watch this video and it'll make you go organic for good. Alternatively grow your own vegetables. You don't need much space - just a window sill to grow herbs and a small planter to start your own veg patch. Eat less meat and only buy line-caught fish.
Choose organic, chemical-free and cruelty-free beauty products. Like Melanie says, "there are so many great brands now, we have no excuse".
Ultimately, if our food is covered in pesticides, we ingest them too. If our fish have eaten tiny particles of plastic, we absorb them. If our air is polluted with traffic fumes, we are inhaling the same toxic chemicals. When we start being more mindful of our own bodies, we inevitably pay more attention to the environment and the world we live in.
Our survival on this planet depends on nature. Trees give us oxygen and absorb carbon. Our oceans do the same. If we destroy the earth, then our own personal health will consequently suffer. So start with your own actions today. Practice yoga in the garden. Choose organic food and beauty products. Give up single-use plastics. I guarantee it will have a ripple effect on those around you.