Protecting Estuaries, Kid's Eco-Books and Green Yoga

By Zandstra, Laura Ruth; Zarrella, Christina | E Magazine, March-April 2004 | Go to article overview

Protecting Estuaries, Kid's Eco-Books and Green Yoga


Zandstra, Laura Ruth, Zarrella, Christina, E Magazine


Is there a connection between practicing yoga and protecting the environment?--Rachelle Gould, Cambridge, MA

The modern practice of yoga is rooted in the complex belief systems of ancient India. According to Yoga Journal, hatha yoga emerged in the ninth century and is the foundation of the physical postures called asanas. The term "yoga" means union. "Hatha" literally means sun (ha) and moon (tha) and symbolizes the union of opposites. So "hatha yoga" indicates the unifying of opposing forces, or the uniting of the body and the mind.

A direct connection between yoga and the environment may not be obvious given varying beliefs, styles and commitment. "The practice of yoga increases one's awareness, compassion and responsibility for caring for the world we live in" says Swami Srinivasananda of the Sivananda Yoga Ranch. Indeed, those interested in its practice have also embraced organic foods, natural products and herbal medicines. Philosophically, devout yoga practitioners see themselves as inextricably linked to others and the natural world. This may add to the perception of yogis as eco-conscious individuals. CONTACT: The International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers, www.sivananda.org.

How does sewer plant drainage threaten estuaries?--Jean T. Castagno, Old Saybrook, CT

An estuary is a partially enclosed body of water where freshwater and saltwater mix. Chesapeake Bay, San Francisco Bay, Boston Harbor, Tampa Bay and Puget Sound are all examples of U.S. estuaries, but one that is particularly plagued by sewer plant drainage is the Northeast's Long Island Sound.

Save the Sound reports that 10 percent of the U.S. population lives within 50 miles of Long Island Sound. That's a lot of people and a lot of sewage. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), "Sewage treatment plants discharge more than one billion gallons of treated effluent into the Sound each day."

Sewage plants wreak havoc because their daily deposits contain nitrogen, which over-fertilizes the Sound and causes explosive growth in marine plants. These plants eventually die, sink and decompose. The unnatural amount of decaying material depletes dissolved oxygen levels, creating a condition called "hypoxia," which Save the Sound says has diminished fish populations, reduced lobster growth rates and negatively affected slow moving species such as starfish and bay anchovy.

Connecticut and New York have both committed millions to improve the health of the Sound with habitat restoration and upgraded sewage plants. …

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