The last few days, our city has been blanketed with a haze of wood smoke. For many of us, the smoke combined with heat and humidity makes it difficult to enjoy the outdoors. We wait for the winds to blow the smoke elsewhere and restore fresh summer air.
I live on the prairies, nowhere near a forest. (The imaginatively named "Sherwood Forest" lies just outside of town, but would only confuse any lumberjack who strayed there.) This smoke came in from forest fires in northern Alberta, a thousand or so kilometres away. News reports tell us that far away Vancouver is suffering from smoke arising from fires in Siberia and that some US states are affected by the Canadian fires.
Recently, the Harper government gutted, or "streamlined," to hear his politicians tell it, environmental impact assessment reviews. Among other things, new laws limit review submissions to those from people who will be directly affected by a given project. Its definition of "direct effect" seems to mean that you'll have to be living right beside that pipeline in order for your voice to be heard. You must also not be a "radical." Or a scientist who works for or is connected to government or its funded agencies. Or anyone who might caution that pumping oil, bitumen, whatever fuel, through and around fragile lands to load onto ships which will sail across oceans to foreign lands, may not be the best solution to our fuel consumption problems.
A bit biased, am I? You're absolutely right. You see, all I have to do is walk outside and try to catch my breath in that smoke from distant fires. Or read about the debris drifting from the 2011 earthquake in Japan and wonder what else may have drifted over from their nuclear meltdown. Or remember that I was pregnant when the Chernobyl nuclear disaster occurred and how worried we were about drift from that event. The truth is, we live on one beautiful planet. What happens in one place affects us all.
What does this have to do with yoga? Yoga means "yoke/union," and not just of Mind/Body/Spirit of an individual being. We are linked to one another and to this Earth. If you believe, as I do, that the body is not simply a part of this planet, this universe, that we are the Earth itself, then it just may be in our best interests to be skeptical about current claims that pipeline projects and the like can be done swiftly and safely, with fast-track approval. (Even if you don't share the same view, Google "Enbridge," "BP Oil," "Exxon Valdez" and "spill," if you want just a taste of what can go wrong.)
Sooner or later, that oil, that nuclear fuel, that "stuff" we demand unceasingly will end up flowing through us, with consequences we can't afford or be able to ignore. My proof? Go outside. Breathe. That smell, whatever it may be? Mother Nature is doing her best to warn us.