Wednesday, August 15 , 2018, 10:23 pm | Fair 72º


Sarah Ettman-Sterner: Turn Off, Tune In to Earth Hour on Saturday

At 8:30 p.m., give the Earth a break and enjoy some environmental enlightenment in the dark

If you practice yoga, you are familiar with the end-of-class exchange of the word “Namaste” with fellow (and mellow) classmates As one who is a new devotee to this mind/body/spirit/experience that promotes good health and a deeper connection to the natural world, I readily admit I have much to learn about this ancient ritual. What I do know, is that I like how my brain and body feel at the end of the session, and that this feeling is shared in concert with the other humans beings who surround me. 

Sarah Ettman-Sterner
Sarah Ettman-Sterner (Nick Sterner photo)

So, what does Namaste mean and how does it relate to you?

According to John Mutinelli, who teaches yoga for health and fitness at Cathedral Oaks Athletic Club, 5800 Cathedral Oaks Road, “Namaste is a Hindi greeting that means different things to different people. I’m a practicing Christian who views it as a way to express that ‘we are both one; I recognize that you and I are of the same essence.’”

Aadil Palkhivala, who at age 7 began studying yoga under B.K.S. Iyengar and is now an internationally recognized leader in the field, states that “for a teacher and student, Namaste allows two individuals to come together energetically to a place of connection and timelessness, free from the bonds of ego-connection. If it is done with deep feeling in the heart and with the mind surrendered, a deep union of spirits can blossom.”

Whether you like yoga or find it’s just not you, there is a fantastic opportunity to conduct a simple, meaningful gesture of solidarity that can be shared with other individuals, to the North, East, South and West of this continent and beyond. Saturday, heralds the Earth Hour, what I liken to a massive global “eco-Namaste” that benefits the environment and engages millions of people everywhere. And, there is no required bending, twisting, turning, balancing or other demands on the body that sometimes seem nearly impossible, yet possible when you practice yoga. This alternative way to reach a state of Namaste is easy on the body and good for the psyche. In addition, it lowers your carbon footprint and is a way to promote awareness about the issue of climate change. All this is accomplished by a simple flick of your wrist!

All you need to do is TURN OFF YOUR LIGHTS at 8:30 p.m. local time, for one hour.

Sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund, Earth Hour is described as “A global call to action to every individual, every business and every community throughout the world. It is a call to stand up, to take responsibility, to get involved and lead the way toward a sustainable future. Iconic buildings and landmarks from Europe to Asia to the Americas will stand in darkness. People across the world from all walks of life will turn off their lights and join together in celebration and contemplation of the one thing we all have in common — our planet.”

The WWF Web site states that this demonstration “Started in 2007 in Sydney, Australia, when 2.2 million homes and businesses turned their lights off for one hour to make their stand against climate change. Only a year later and Earth Hour had become a global sustainability movement with more than 50 million people across 35 countries participating. Global landmarks such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the CN Tower in Toronto, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and Rome’s Colosseum all stood in darkness, as symbols of hope for a cause that grows more urgent by the hour. In March 2009, hundreds of millions of people took part in the third Earth Hour. Over 4,000 cities in 88 countries officially switched off to pledge their support for the planet, making Earth Hour 2009 the world’s largest global climate change initiative.”

For those who may be at a loss as to what to do for an entire hour of “lights-out” mindfulness, here are some suggestions to help you on the path to change:

For many people across the globe, the dark skies our ancestors saw have disappeared, largely as a result of urban sky glow, or
For many people across the globe, the dark skies our ancestors saw have disappeared, largely as a result of urban sky glow, or “light pollution.” (National Park Service photo)

» Find a hilltop, enjoy the sunset, see the moon rise, or study the night sky. The stars will appear brighter due to less light pollution.

» If you have kids, form a story circle and tell them family stories about the “olden days, when you were growing up.” Build a fort with pillows in the living room, play cards or charades.

» Take an evening stroll around your neighborhood, paying special attention to the sounds and smells of the spring season. By 8:30 p.m., nocturnal animals begin their search for food and love! Listen to birds, coyotes in the foothills, and the high and low pitch croaking made by frogs seeking a mate.

» Use candlelight as you make dinner. Try yoga by candlelight.

For Karen Keltner, an outdoor fitness and yoga expert who creates eco-retreats for Santa Barbara’s SomaGetFit, “Earth Hour and Namaste are complementary. They awaken our need for natural, not artificial energy. Earth Hour, like practicing poses such as “tree” or “mountain,” outside where yoga is really meant to take place, encourages humanity to harmonize with nature. They empower us to give to ourselves, each other and the Earth.”

Green Hawk interactive producer Sarah Ettman-Sterner focuses on current environmental trends and marine-related topics. A member of the Society for Environmental Journalists, she provided the “voice” for Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society for more than a decade. She can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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