In honor of spring and Earth Day, April’s Kunga theme is serving our planet!
Suggestions for inspiring your students:
- Taking your class outside if possible!
- Sun Salutations facing windows if possible
- Music with positive messages about the earth! Ex: What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
- Earth Practice Theme – Hip Openers, Seated Periods of longer Meditation
- Lots of tips below, you may wish to teach a mini – “theme” each week, reading suggestions at the end of your class.
- Let your students do the teaching! Allow 5 min at the end of class for students to share with the class any tips/brainstorming they may have for helping the planet
- Finally – encouraging carpooling (or even bike pooling) in your own class! Great way for your students to meet with another and save on gas emissions!
As we continue to use more of the planets resources, we can look at our yoga practice as a wonderful opportunity to reevaluate our connection with the planet and it’s inhabitants. We are taught through the ancient texts of yoga that is our responsibility and duty to care for our planet and each other very consciously. Our challenge is to wake up and see what is unfolding on our planet, under our very noses. The first of the eight limbs of yoga, the yamas, are universal moral principles. These include ahimsa, non-harming of living beings, and aparigraha, not stealing or greedllessness – not consuming more than we need.
Georg Fuerstein, founder of the Yoga Research & Education Center, teaches that the most important part of the yogi’s path is learning to see our true nature—and our impact on the planet and all that we are connected to.
Both the philosophy of yoga, and the internal experience of yoga aid us in seeing reality more clearly, including the current ecological condition and the steps humans must take to remedy it. In addition, yoga practices can build the calm state of mind needed to stave off despair or grief as we work to restore balance to the planet.
Please consider using this first month of spring to implement the following suggestions as an extension of your yoga practice. These suggestions are from a panel of environmental experts in the fields of technology, politics, and social and domestic policy. You may find it helpful to begin by focusing on just one per week in the beginning:
Week One: Food Choices
According to the United Nations, raising animals for meat, dairy, and seafood production creates more greenhouse gas emissions than all of the transportation in the world – including cars, trucks, trains, buses, planes, ships, etc. Oceans & Water Usage: More than half the water consumed in the U.S is used to raise animals for meat and dairy production. It takes 8,500 gallons of water to raise a pound of meat, but only 24 gallons to produce a pound of wheat.
To make a difference – Considering reducing or eliminating meat, dairy & seafood from our diet and voting with our dollars by purchasing plant foods and whole grains, as the most environmentally friendly choice. Also try growing your own food or buying locally to help reduce air pollution caused by food and goods transport
Week Two: Travel
Did you know? A vehicle that gets 30 MPG will cost you $880 less to fuel each year than one that gets 20 MPG (assuming 15,000 miles of driving annually and a fuel cost of $3.52). Over a period of 5 years, the 30 MPG vehicle will save you $4400.
Suggestions for Travel:
- Buy Smart – A fuel Efficient vehicle
- Drive Smart – Go easy on the brakes and gas, avoid hard accelerations, use cruise control
- Tune Your Ride & Check your tires – for better fuel efficiency.
- Give Your Car A Break – Try biking, carpooling, and public transportation!
Week Three: Energy & Water Usage
By replacing the five most frequently used lights in your home with ENERGY STAR qualified lighting, you can save more than $60 each year in energy costs. If every US household replaced their five highest-use fixtures, or the bulbs in them, with ENERGY STAR qualified models, the change would prevent the greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the annual emissions from more than 8 million cars.
Week Three Suggestions for action:
- Replace a regular incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb – Install a programmable thermostat
- Move your thermostat down 2° in winter and up 2° in summer
- hoose energy star labeled appliances when making new purchases
- Reducing the brightness of your TV set can cut as much as 25% of its total energy use
- Getting rid of the screen saver on a computer can save $50-$100 in electricity costs in a year
- Wrap your water heater in an insulation blanket
- Get a home energy audit
- Cover your pots while cooking
- Take a shower instead of a bath, using a low-flow showerhead
- Turn off the water while brushing your teeth
- Air dry your clothes when possible
Week Four: At Work/School
By 2015, consumer electronics and small appliances will be responsible for almost 30% of all household electricity use. In 2020, the average home is expected to be 5% larger and will rely on even more electricity-powered electronics. (EIA)
- Manage office equipment energy use better:Office equipment and electronics use energy even when idle or on stand-by. To save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions at work, always activate the power management features on your computer and monitor, unplug laptop power cords when not in use and turn off equipment and lights at the end of the day. Consider using a power strip that can be turned off when you’re done using your computers, printers, wireless routers and other electronics.
- Look for ENERGY STAR qualified products for the Office: When buying new products for your office at work or at home, get the features and performance you want and help reduce greenhouse gases and emissions of air pollutants. Look for ENERGY STAR qualified office equipment, such as computers, copiers, and printers, in addition to more than 50 product categories, including lighting, heating and cooling equipment and commercial appliances.
- Ask your office building manager if your office building has earned the ENERGY STAR. ENERGY STAR-labeled buildings provide safe, healthy, and productive environments that use about 35 percent less energy than average buildings. Their efficient use of energy also reduces the total operational cost of the building.
- Use less energy for your commute: Switch to public transportation, carpooling, biking, telecommuting and other innovative ways to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions on your way to and from work. Encourage your employer to offer commuter benefits that address limited or expensive parking, reduce traffic congestion, improve employee recruiting and retention and minimize the environmental impacts associated with drive-alone commuting. If you do drive, find out the fuel efficiency of your vehicle using EPA’s and DOE’s fuel economy Web site, and make more environmentally-informed choices when purchasing your next vehicle by using EPA’s Green Vehicle Guide.
- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle:Recycle office paper, newspapers, beverage containers, electronic equipment and batteries. Reducing, reusing, and recycling in your office helps conserve energy, and reduces pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from resource extraction, manufacturing, and disposal. You can reduce, reuse and recycle at the office by using two-sided printing and copying; buying supplies made with recycled content; and recycling used printer cartridges. For your old electronics, investigate leasing programs to ensure reuse and recycling or donate used equipment to schools or other organizations.
For more suggestions please visit Environmental Protection Agency at www.epa.gov