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Hey y'all!

I'm Miranda. Welcome to Namaste in Nature where we craft custom yoga + hiking experiences near Asheville, NC and create fresh content about nature, yoga, meditation & mindfulness every Friday.

Earth Day, Conservation & the Five Elements of Yoga

Earth Day, Conservation & the Five Elements of Yoga

Earth Day is right around the corner on Monday, March 22 but we should totally care about our one and only planet for the other 364 days that it is orbiting around the sun too!

The practice of yoga describes 5 elements that literally and metaphorically make up the natural world, including us. The elements are often represented in the body using chakras or centers of energy in the body. Everything in nature is connected in one way or another.

Earth

Earth represents the solid state of matter. We are made up of the same elements as Earth. 99% of the human body is Oxygen, Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Calcium and Phosphorous. An Earth based yoga practice focuses on rooting down and grounding using asanas (postures) like Child’s Pose (Balasana), Corpse Pose (Shavasana) and Mountain Pose (Tadasana). Grounding postures are great for calming the body & mind and relieving stress and anxiety. Earth resides in and around the first chakra, or the root chakra called Muladhara, located at the base of the spine. Connect to the Earth by being barefoot outside on grass, dirt or stone.


“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” -Thicht Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist


Water

The water element is associated with the second chakra, Svadhisthana, located in the pelvic area. Water represents fluidity, emotions, passion, sexuality and creativity. The human body is between 50% and 75% water. Babies are born with the highest water content and this lessens over time as we age. Yoga asanas related to water focus on the hips. Examples include Butterfly or Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana or Titali Asana), Frog Pose (Mandukasana) and Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana). Keep your body and mind healthy by drinking lots of water!


“Nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet nothing can resist it.” - Lao Tzu, Chinese philosopher

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Fire

Fire represents heat, power, strength, transformation and digestion. It resides in and around the third chakra, Manipura, located in the abdomen. Some fire asanas (poses) include anything that brings awareness to and strengthens the core like Fire Breath/Kapalabhati Pranayama, Plank Pose and Boat Pose (Navasana). Connect to the fire element in your own body by incorporating spices like turmeric, ginger, cumin and cinnamon into your diet. These spices create some heat but also have anti-inflammatory properties.



“Love in its essence is a spiritual fire.” - Lucius Annaeus Seneca, aka Seneca the Younger, Roman Philosopher  



Air

The Air element represents love, openness, freedom, mobility, positivity and intellect. It is associated with the 4th chakra, Anahata, located in the heart/sternum area. Yoga asanas that stimulate this element/chakra focus on the chest and opening the heart. Examples include Camel Pose (Ustrasana), Bow Pose (Dhanurasana) and Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana). Spend time outside in the fresh air and/or practice loving kindness meditation to connect with this element.



“Freedom lies in being bold.” -Robert Frost, American Poet



Space/Ether

This element contains both the space within us and the vastness of space all around us. Space/ether energy arises from the 5th chakra, Visshudha, located in the throat/neck/shoulder area. This element represents coordination, boundaries, time, travel and organization of items & information. Space/ether yoga postures take up space like Star Pose (Utthita Tadasana), Shoulder Stand (Salamba Sarvangasana) and Goddess Pose (Utkata Konasana). To explore or connect to this element, try journaling; exploring and organizing your thoughts and emotions.



“The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent.” - Carl Sagan, American Astronomer & Scientist  



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I made a series of yoga videos for Earth, Water, Fire and Air that you can have delivered to your inbox by joining my weekly mailing list. Each of these 20-30 minute yoga practices will incorporate the aforementioned asanas into a flowing Hatha practice that is great for beginner yogis and busy yogis that don’t have as much time to get to a studio or gym. I also incorporate the elements into my Flow & Yin classes at Asheville Yoga Center.

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How to Support Conservation Efforts in Western North Carolina

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I am super grateful for WNC for the Planet, a collective made up of local environmental organizations in and around Western North Carolina. It’s super useful to see a list of all these organizations in one place. I feel it’s especially important to give time, money and energy to these organizations since I own & operate a yoga & hiking business that mindfully utilizes our local air, water and earth.


I met a representatives of some of these organizations during the kick-off event at New Belgium brewing a few weeks ago and wanted to know more about what they need most right now so I can share it with y’all!

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Conserving Carolina

Dedicated to protecting and stewarding land and water resources vital to our natural heritage and quality of life and to fostering appreciation and understanding of the natural world.

conservingcarolina.org


What is your top priority/project this year?

We have many priorities and projects, so it is hard to single out just one.  But among our biggest priorities is to add 314 new acres to DuPont State Recreational Forest, building upon 402 acres we added earlier this year.  The new property will connect DuPont to a large conservation corridor along the South Carolina State Line. It will also protect water quality along the eastern continental divide and create opportunities for development of future trails connecting DuPont to the Foothills Trail in South Carolina.

What is one easy thing people can do right now to reduce or be more mindful of their impact on nature?

We encourage people to get involved with local conservation organizations to learn more about the issues facing our region.  We have many events and opportunities for them to get outside and learn more about the region’s amazing natural resources. We also offer a series called “Habitat at Home” that gives folks tips on steps they can take directly: https://conservingcarolina.org/tag/habitat-at-home/

What do you need most right now?

We are always looking for new volunteers and contributors. You could send people to our website for ideas about how they might like to get involved: https://conservingcarolina.org/get-involved/

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The Hemlock Restoration Initiative


Restores eastern and Carolina hemlocks to their native habitats throughout North Carolina and mitigates damage to hemlocks caused by infestation of the hemlock woolly adelgid.

savehemlocksnc.org

What is your top priority/project this year?

The Hemlock Restoration Initiative (HRI)'s top project this year is to continue developing and offering workshops to share hemlock management options with a wider audience. We have offered several hemlock treatment training workshops in the past year. Going forward, we want to continue educating and empowering landowners to take care of their hemlock trees and protect them from the invasive hemlock woolly adelgid, as well as expand our reach to more stakeholders.


What is one easy thing people can do right now to reduce or be more mindful of their impact on nature?

One easy thing anybody can do to make a positive environmental impact is to actively source and use native plants in their gardening and landscaping. They can also learn about the plants that they already have and how to manage themand if any of those plants are hemlock trees, they can visit our website at www.savehemlocksnc.org to learn how to take care of them!


What do you need most right now?

We always appreciate donations to support our work of saving North Carolina's hemlocks. If you would like to donate, please send a check made payable to WNC Communities (indicating HRI in the memo line) to: Hemlock Restoration Initiative, c/o WNC Communities, 594 Brevard Road, Asheville, NC 28806.

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The Environmental Quality Institute

EQI collects scientific data that informs environmental understanding and decision-making.

www.environmentalqualityinstitute.org/


What is your top priority/project this year?

The Environmental Quality Institute strives to provide consistent water quality data at sites across WNC each year. Therefore, our top priority is always to continue stream monitoring, although we are also trying to improve the communication of our data to our volunteers and the general public this year.


What is one easy thing people can do right now to reduce or be more mindful of their impact on nature?

Figure out your watershed! Where does runoff from your house, school, or business go? Understanding how we fit into our environment and the water quality "equation" is essential to conservation efforts.


What do you need most right now?

Volunteers! We could not do even a fraction of our water quality monitoring without dedicated volunteers.

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MountainTrue


Champions resilient forests, clean waters and healthy communities in Western North Carolina.

mountaintrue.org


What is your top priority/project this year?
Our top priority is ensuring the next 20 year management plan for the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests is designed with lasting protections for WNC's old growth forest and ecologically sensitive priority areas within these important forests. When the draft plan is released later this year by the US Forest Service, our staff will be reviewing the plan closely to ensure these protections are guaranteed. If they are not, we will run a big grassroots campaign to fight for those protections.


What is one easy thing people can do right now to reduce their impact on nature?

Sign up to receive action alerts from MountainTrue and respond to calls to take action on policy priorities. By speaking up to our elected officials about the needs to minimize our human footprint on this planet, one person's action and voice can be amplified through good policy that ensures our region's sustainability.


What do you need most right now?
Willing and committed policy advocates!

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Friends of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park


Assists the National Park Service in its mission to preserve and protect the Great Smoky Mountains National Park by raising funds and public awareness, and providing volunteers for needed projects.

friendsofthesmokies.org


1. What is your top priority/project this year?

Currently, our top fundraising priority is a $2.5 million capital campaign for a Park-wide radio system upgrade - of which we’ve already raised $1.6 million. Great Smoky Mountains National Park physically encompasses more than half a million acres of Southern Appalachian ecosystems, which means reliable communication is critical. Each year park emergency and law enforcement personnel engage in approximately 100 search and rescues, 125 emergency medical calls, and 325 traffic accidents. In addition, preparations for significant weather events occur at least ten times annually. The emergency radio communication system currently used in GSMNP has exceeded its recommended maximum lifespan. Replacement parts are difficult to come by, repairs are costly, and technical support is no longer available. The new radio system upgrade will replace microwave and repeater equipment at nine radio tower sites across the park as well as portable and mobile radio units in patrol vehicles and fire engines. This will allow park rangers and National Park dispatchers to communicate directly with police, fire, and emergency services in the gateway communities outside the park boundaries. It will also include a new Computer Aided Dispatch system and dedicated emergency frequencies for the first time in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.


What is one easy thing people can do right now to reduce or be more mindful of their impact on nature?

Protect wildlife - don't feed or approach! When it comes to bears and elk, maintain at least 50 yards between you and the animal. As a rule of thumb, if you approach an animal so closely that it changes its behavior, you have approached too closely. You are keeping yourself, other people - AND the wildlife - safe.


What do you need most right now? (Volunteers, monetary donations, specific supplies, etc)

More than anything, we need donations for the many incredible projects and programs we will support in 2019. If there's something you love about the Smokies, give a gift to help the park!

Also, if you or anyone you know is interested in volunteering, we are always on the lookout. You can sign up with this form.

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If you don’t live in Western North Carolina, feel free to research and support some local conservation groups in the community where you live! And join us for a mindful, magical, all element-experiencing yoga hike here in Asheville, NC the next time you visit.


Namaste & Have A Great Day!

Miranda

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