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

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

©Chris Murphy

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.

Christina Zarrella

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. There has already been a 19 percent reduction in nitrogen discharges since 1990. A number of state and federal organizations have also banded together to host National Estuaries Day, meant to promote the importance of estuaries and the need to protect them.

Laura Ruth Zandstra

CONTACT:National Estuaries Day www.estuaries.gov; Save the Sound, (203)354-0036, www.savethesound.org

Can you recommend a selection of environmentally oriented children’s books?
Tim Taylor, St. Louis, MO

Books with "green" themes, facts or messages can be invaluable in helping teach kids about the important issues facing our planet—and they can be fun, too! While it’s impossible to provide a comprehensive reading list, here are a few ideas: How about renowned actor/author John Lithgow’s light and delightful I"m a Manatee or Deborah Lee Rose’s thoughtful The People Who Hugged Trees: An Environmental Folk Tale?

Good bibliographies of children’s books with environmental messages can be found at Teachers.net, through Ramsey County Libraries of Minnesota and through the Center for Environmental Education, which also boasts a lending library. Other resources include the National Association for Humane and Environmental Education and Ecobusiness Links, which is a directory of eco-businesses, including bookstores.

No matter which books you decide to share with the next generation, don’t forget the environmental classic The Lorax by Dr. Seuss. From kids learning their ABCs to those of us with Ph.D."s, this is a must read. And don’t forget to "share books and recycle them by selling them to used bookstores or donating them," says a spokesperson for the Ramsey Library.

C.Z.

CONTACT: Center for Environmental Education, (603)355-3251, www.schoolsgogreen.org; Ecobusiness Links www.ecobusi nesslinks.com/links/books.htm; National Association for Humane and Environmental Education, (860)434-8666, www.nahee.org ; Ramsey County Libraries www.co.ramsey.mn.us/ PH/eh/educ_children_books.asp; Teachers.net http://teachers.net/archive/envirobks.html