It's Upon Us Bad news abounds. I have a NASA Earth Now App which flashes me the latest global events. Today and for many days, 'Wildfire Smoke Streams Across the U.S.' is the main headline. The west coast, northwestern and southwestern states are burning. To date,...
The problem is the creek did rise. We live next to Scotts Creek, Mitchells Island, NSW, and the creek rose and rose and rose. Then it burst its bank.
Up in our house, safe on a hill, we watched as Farmer John’s next-door paddocks filled. John had seen the flood coming and moved his cattle to safety. That day, it rained and rained, everyone calling it biblical. At 4 am, the caravan park at Manning Point was hit by a flash flood. The proprietor shook the van occupants out their slumber and some, still in p.j.’s, made a run for high ground.
Here in Australia, impossible to ignore, there has been the continuing cruelty of a nationwide drought. And the resultant drying up of rivers and loss of biodiversity.
Then along came the winter bushfires. Winter! Not the ‘normal’ season for fires to occur. Even less ‘normal’ for the rain forests to burn.
And now, there are massive rainfalls, flooding, storms and perilous tidal surges.
Julie and I have been looking at the trees and vegetation of Saltwater National Park for green signs of rebirth. They’ve been hard to find: tufts of grasses, epiphyte-like growths, occasional new leaves. The enormous heat generated by this fire seems to have nuclear-blasted the paperbarks and grass trees. Some are burnt-out trunks with branches intact, still standing. Others resemble resinated black statues.
As the pace of our lives continues to accelerate, driven by a host of forces seemingly beyond our control, more and more of us are finding ourselves drawn to engage in meditation, in this radical act of being. We are moving in the direction of meditative awareness for many reasons, not the least of which may be to maintain our individual and collective sanity, or recover our perspective and sense of meaning, or simply to deal with the outrageous stress and insecurity of this age.
Even now as write, I don’t know what words to describe my uneasy feelings about the climate. Maybe it’s because there’s just too much to say.
Earlier this year, the on-line Sydney Morning Herald would run one or two stories on climate change. Now, and especially since Australia’s monstrously extensive bushfires, there are a half dozen or more each day.
To a large extent, the local fires have abated…for the time being. Yet the BoM site still informs us of ‘smoke haze’. The air we breathe is badly polluted. But there’s something worse in the atmosphere.
We are restless, somewhat distracted and very much looking for the comfort of each other. Haven’t you felt it? Some of us have lost sheds, fences, homes, friends, pets. Wildlife populations and vegetation have been decimated. The worst is the loss of security, of safety. What will life be like from now on if the air we breathe is uncertainty?
It’s not often that I am at a loss for words. But over the last week, I’ve felt unable to ‘put pen to paper’.
In retrospect, this is as it should be. The Australian bushfire losses we’ve experienced are too big and one’s feelings still so raw.
The climate crisis is no longer a future problem. We need to grapple with it now. In an increasingly accelerating way, life on our planet as we’ve experienced it is changing. That means we are being called on to change, too.
Time is running out. The patient is critically ailing. Every day matters.
We need to adapt to this warming climate. We can keep our practice to the cooler morning and evening part of the day. As the heat builds, we can do passive poses which have the effect of cooling the brain and pacify the body’s systems. Forward bends, supported inversions and yoga flop-asanas are the ‘go’.
Climate Yoga: Opportunity for Participation I did it! I stepped out! Even though I'm neither a scientist or activist, I facilitated a talk at the Ekam Festival recently on Climate Yoga. This post is a follow-up so for those of you who weren't at the festival....
Probably like you, I’ve been giving much thought to climate change. So much so that I put my hand up to facilitate a presentation at the Ekam Festival on Climate Yoga.
Sometimes I think there’s something wrong with me. I get anxious about what’s happening in the world.
I enjoy watching dystopian TV shows, such as, ‘The Handmaids Tale’. Many of my friends won’t go near this series, saying it’s too dark and violent. Too reminiscent of what’s happening in the increasingly right-wing world we live in.
I’ve always been like this.
I’m worried and ready to declare myself a Climate Yogini. I’m not sure exactly what that means at this stage. So far, it’s business as normal. We go about doing our laundry, planting vegetables, walking on the beach with very little threat that the weather will spoil our activities. But it seems to me that the times they are a-changin’, and not that slowly, and not just in Australia. You can google ‘global warming hotspots’ and you’ll see the areas that are most at risk.
What are we yogis supposed to do in this time of discomfort and perhaps difficult adjustments? Probably just what we have been doing. Keeping up yogic practices: asanas, pranayama, meditation, relaxation.
And, particularly in the summer heat, let’s do quiet, cooling and calming yoga practice. Save the jumping around and through. Spare yourself sweating the long timings in poses. Keep the goal-seeking, perfection part of your personality in check. And chill.
Adapt your practice
We’re facing a solid week ahead of temperatures in the low 30’s in our region, accompanied by high humidity. (For Americans, that translates to low 90’s.)
For me, that points to doing my best to stay cool when I do my yoga practice. And I use yoga tools, like meditation, pranayama, relaxation and passive yoga poses, to cool my body and brain.
Consider some of the ways you can support better breathing, for instance, lying supine over bolsters to open your chest. […]
In the U.S., the stifling stickiness of the hot weather season is undeniably upon us so we yoga practitioners need to adapt to this climate. It’s not as humid here in Tucson as in the buildup to The Wet of Australia’s tropical north, but this weather can still be mind-numbing and body-immobilising.
Days of extreme weather might be the way of the future. Who knows? Most scientists say this is the way we are heading.
If so, we need to include reflective practices as part of our yoga routine. We need the tools that create mental and emotional space to deal with difficult situations. It’s not enough to keep up with a strong physical practice. Meditation, savasana, yoga nidra, and pranayama are necessary to weather all conditions. Not only extreme climactic fluctuations.
Regarding yoga practice, when the temperature is hot in the extreme, do you go to ground? I’ve learned that you don’t necessarily need to skip your yoga practice. Just do cool yoga.
In Australia now, we are experiencing a summer where the atmosphere is heavy with humidity and heat. It’s not as humid here in NSW as it is in the buildup to ‘The Wet’ of our tropical north. […]
We didn’t plan it. Actually, we’ve done remarkably little planning on this our 4-month odyssey around the eastern half of Australia.
But we lucked out!
Apparently the central and southern desert regions of the Northern Territory have had more than their fair share of rain this year–i.e., the whole year’s precipitation to date.
So almost everywhere you look there are sprays and bouquets and even meadows of flowers. […]
Chill out at the Summer SolsticeBecause the solstice occurs just twice a year, it is a special event. That means it deserves a specialised yoga practice.In the southern hemisphere, we’re approaching the summer solstice. The living is easy, breezy and expansive. You just naturally want to be out of doors. Even better if you can have an ocean dip.The other night the prospect of a beach picnic called to us. […]