Breathe for the Planet: Why Yogis Need Trees and Trees Need Yogis
Humans inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide.
Trees inhale carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen.
Seems like a perfect trade, right? Human lungs ingeniously absorbing the oxygen our bodies need to function and expelling the carbon dioxide they don’t. Trees doing the opposite, absorbing the carbon dioxide they require for photosynthesis and releasing oxygen in the process.
Well, unfortunately, it’s not working out that way. We humans are generating way too much carbon dioxide in the form of pollution for trees to keep the system in balance. Massive deforestation (humans again) has tipped the scale even further.
Humans need trees. We need them to be the lungs of the planet, reversing the catastrophic effects of rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which is a major contributing factor to the greenhouse effect that is fuelling our current climate crisis.
Do trees need humans? You’d certainly be justified if you answered no. After all, we’re the ones poisoning the air in the service of our insatiable energy needs and chopping down forests to develop the land they occupy. But we’d argue that, at this point, trees do need humans. They need a particular kind of humans. They need yogis.
Making connections is one of yoga’s superpowers. In your very first yoga class, you may have learned to connect with your breath. Just sitting still, observing your inhales and exhales as they happen naturally, draws your mind away from its endless cycle of activity and allows it to connect strongly with your body.
From there, the connections only grow. Breath is connected to movement. Moving and breathing in a room with other people connects you to them. You soon realise that you’re connected to all people, whether they’re in the yoga room or not. That we’re all deeply connected to nature, our habitat, our source, our only planet.
Modern yogis often feel connected to the ethical code outlined in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali because it confirms what we already know is right. That we should interact with the world with respect by telling the truth, practising nonviolence, not stealing, and not being greedy.
Seeing these precepts in their ancient context makes it clear that greed isn’t a new problem. But the scale of our environmental crisis is unprecedented. At crucial moments in human history, we have been able to come together and act for the greater good. This needs to be one of those times.
Human Problem, Human Solution
The humans of the early industrialised era didn’t know the effects that burning fossil fuels would have on the environment. They didn’t understand greenhouse gases or have the foreknowledge to predict climate change.
The time for those excuses is past. For too long, corporations have been allowed to exploit our planet’s natural resources for financial gain, heedless of the irrevocable damage done in the process.
Governments have been complicit by refusing to adequately regulate big businesses. Politicians have either denied or chosen to ignore the environmental crisis as long as corporate money keeps them in power.
We need more enlightened leadership. We need to find our moral compass. We need people who look at whether something is ethical before whether it’s profitable. We need yogis.
Speak for the Trees
Trees need yogis because we’re the ones who are going to save the planet. Yogis show up when it’s important to demonstrate the strength of our numbers. Yogis vote.
The growing urgency of the environmental movement reflects the planet’s dire circumstances. Now is the time to take a stand and act to stop the pollution and deforestation.
Inhale. Exhale. Let’s do this together.
Join Liforme in attending a Global Climate Strike event this September. We’ll be at the London event on September 20th to show the world what yogis can do.
Support Liforme’s official charity partner Friends of the Earth’s campaign to compel the British government to double the tree cover in the UK by 2045.
Recent fires in the Amazon rain forests show that we can’t assume that existing natural areas will be maintained. We must plan for this by beginning to plant new trees in areas that were once repositories for planet-saving carbon absorption.
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