Wednesday, May 28, 2014

But... Green is my Life!

Jediah and I were driving yesterday in our car, and I pointed out how the construction crew had cut down a whole bunch of trees in one area to make a clearing for a new road and bridge that they are building near our home.

At which point he says, with a very sad tone in his voice,
"but... Green is my life!"

I started to smile and as always, I was in awe of how profound, yet simple, the words of a three year old could be, and I replied, "it is true, Green is my life too.  Green is everyone's life."

We were on our way to the doctor, and at the office I was flipping through a magazine and came across this advertisement for It was incredibly effective, and since Jediah was there due to some trouble with his breathing, it seemed very synchronistic to our current situation.

It reminded me that we are so intricately connected to nature that sometimes it is easy to overlook how absolutely essential and necessary it is for our existence.  Everything we need and depend on is provided by nature - yes... even your computer and iPhone! 

For example, did you know that there is no living thing on this planet that can survive without water?
In an ideal environment, a human may be able to last a total of 12 days without water, but more then likely would die sometime around the five day point.

Here in Canada, we are championed in environmental activism by David Suzuki and his foundation. They bring attention to many issues, and also provide simple solutions that are easy to incorporate into your daily routine, and can significantly help to reduce our negative impact on this planet. You see, every breath we take, everything we eat or drink, and everything we own is derived from nature, even our homes are made from natural materials. We are completely dependent upon sustaining a harmonious environmental balance for our survival.

Here are a few quick facts from that you might find enlightening:
  1. At least half of all medicines in use worldwide are derived directly from natural components, primarily from tropical forests. Antiviral drugs and painkillers are among the modern medicines obtained from coral reefs.  Only a small fraction of tropical rainforest species have been analyzed for their medicinal properties. We may yet discover more cures in nature — if we don’t destroy them first.
  2. Most large, modern structures are made from concrete, glass and steel. All three are derived from nature. Steel making is one of the world’s leading industrial sources of greenhouse gases. In 2010, according to the International Energy Agency, the iron and steel industry accounted for approximately 6.7% of total world CO2 emissions.
  3. Most vehicles run on fossil fuels like diesel and gasoline. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, there are fewer than 1.3 trillion barrels of crude oil left in the world oil reserve, which at the current rate of consumption would last the world only 41 more years.
  4. Deforestation accounts for 20% of all carbon emissions, which is twice the amount that all the cars, trucks and planes in the world emit, combined.  That's pretty major, as there are more than 1 billion vehicles on the road worldwide, including buses and trucks, which are themselves, disproportionately heavy polluters.
  5. The production of one hamburger releases as many greenhouse gases into the atmosphere as driving a car 10 miles.
  6. The production of one burger requires 7,000 liters (about 1,850 gallons) of water, the bulk of which is used to grow grain for cattle feed.
  7. Beef production uses about 60% of the world's agricultural land, yet provides less than 2% of the world's calories.
  8. Because cattle ranching requires large tracts of land, producers frequently clear-cut tropical forest to provide pastures for their herds. Extensive cattle ranching accounts for 80% of the amazon's deforestation.
  9. Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil found in about half of all the packaged food products on supermarket shelves — not just baked goods and snacks, but also cosmetics and lotions, soaps and detergents, even pet food.  Palm oil is incredibly productive, producing far more oil than other crops on the same amount of land. Today, a third of all vegetable oil used worldwide is palm oil.  However, most palm oil is produced on large industrial plantations, primarily in Indonesia and Malaysia. Often, tropical forests are cleared to make way for oil palm plantations that are destroying the habitat for endangered species like the orangutan. This deforestation also releases carbon into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, contributing to global climate change.

Not to overwhelm you with the issues at hand; but, knowledge is power, and it is important to understand what is happening so we can make informed choices in how to respond and protect the environment that supports us day in and day out.

Our yoga teacher R. Sharath Jois is also very passionate about the environment and protecting nature.  I found a shirt he made awhile back that has on the it one of his favorite sayings from that period in time:  Save Nature - Nature Saves You.  I have always admired this about him, the fact that he see this Ashtanga Yoga Practice expanding beyond simply the asana into how we treat our environment, the animals, and of course other people too.

Each day we should wake up with gratitude for all that we have, most of all for this beautiful planet that nourishes and supports us through the endless offering of herself.  That is the reason why Nature is conceptualized as a Mother, because she gives and gives without hesitation, without reserve, unconditionally loving and supporting us to the detriment of her own welfare, and will continue to do so until she is completely depleted.  Any mother understands this innate inclination of sacrificial offering and unlimited relinquishing of everything, for her children.

David Swenson was quoted in Yoga International, as saying "the definition of a yogi that I like most is this: A yogi is one who leave a place just a little nicer then when they arrived!"
I think this is a brilliant definition, much better then: "the one who can do the most handstands!" (that's another issue for another day).

My friend Lara Land started a movement to encourage more awareness of bringing our practice into every aspect of our day both on and off the mat.  It's called All Eight Limbs and you can read more about it on her blog Adventures in Yogaland.  I think this is a wonderful idea, and I am excited to support her in reminding all the yogis out there that our practice has to be about more then bending and stretching, it has to be about transformation, of not only for ourselves, but for our whole planet!
(aside: I'm pretty sure that our world doesn't need more handstands; rather, it needs more people making the world a kinder, and more sustainable place for every living being).

So, as you go, try your best to tred lightly on this planet and leave it a nicer, cleaner, happier home for everyone, because Green is our life, whether we want it to be or not.

Let's bring our yoga alive - and start living our practice - All Eight Limbs!  

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