Month: September 2013

From Mula bandha to jumping ship via climate change


An attempt here to connect some largely unrelated topics, mostly because I can’t imagine taking the time to write several posts so want to include them all in one. Firstly, on the topic of Yoga and how to understand mula bandha:

Consider the pelvic floor, or pelvic diaphragm, not just as the group that includes the pubococcygeuspuborectalisiliococcygeus and coccygeus muscle. Consider also the deep abdominal, back muscles and diaphragm (the muscle between thorax and abdomen that helps you breathe). When you engage mula bandha, you are focussing on the natural process that occurs when you lift a heavy weight, for instance. So you don’t just lift the pelvic floor (as though you’re resisting the urge to pee), you are increasing an equal pressure in the whole abdominal core and drawing all the muscles into work evenly, towards a point about two inches below your navel.

Right, that’s the first thing. Mula bandha. You can engage it while you’re sitting or standing but it’s usually taught when you’re practicing Setu bandha.

The next, and totally unrelated, thing (maybe not totally unrelated, actually) is, can Yoga wreck your body? Yes, and your mind, since the two are interlinked. Yoga is more risky than a Zumba class because you are doing more work to engage internal muscles that affect your breathing (see above), and your breathing affects your blood pressure, so you can change your blood pressure quite dramatically. Oh, and also Yoga can be very demanding on your spine IF you’re determined to ignore your own common sense and pain signals and do things because everyone else is – but that’s human nature, isn’t it? So you are practicing becoming aware of this, and if you’re paying a lot of attention, you can actually resist the flow of what’s going on around you and decide what’s really going to work for you. It’s a sort of life lesson so you may find you don’t get it straight away, or that you understand in one context but completely fail to practice in another. That’s my experience, anyhow.

Which brings me to the next topic: how do we get people to take the human impact on ecological and climate systems seriously? The crowd flows one way. For instance, there was an article on the unexplained deaths of whales off the coast of Ghana this morning http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-23973440 and the response of local fishermen was, hey no problem, more fish for us. This is good news. Another but far less gung-ho response was, are these deaths linked to oil drilling? We need to do some research. But which response is most likely to generate a following in Ghana? If you’re hungry, or you want to get richer, you are unlikely to be keen to investigate further research when the surface appearance is that a rival fish eater is declining in numbers, offering less competition (now I’m no whale expert but the pics look a little like baleen whales which don’t eat fish, but eat krill… but I’m just speculating).

So, how do you get people to take an interest in, and thereby take some responsibility for, human impact? Exhaustingly, it looks like it’s up to each of us individually to keep highlighting the issues (which is why I’m writing this). People who have an audience, like teachers, can use the opportunities to get students interested in the debate, and looking into the questions. Really, there needs to be a global governance response, though, that actually looks systematically at how to create policies and laws that take into account human impact (Polly Higgins’ end ecocide idea is great – but we need to see it broken down and case studies of the effects such laws would have really worked out for people). Shouting about it is all very well mahb.stanford.edu/library/breaking-news/environmental-health/

But lots of people are completely turned off by mob mentality, and by being told what to do, particularly when that involves a decrease in income and standard of living – which is the unavoidable consequence of what will need to happen if those in the global North who live on more than the minimum wage are to contribute what they will have to in order to address impact.

Far more sensible is to lay out what we do have to do as individuals. Do we have to stop flying? (I’ve struggled with this one for years and for years my response has been, yes – but then I look at people who fly frequently and I feel the stirrings of jealousy – I want to see wonderful places too, and get away from the rotten Irish winter, and even escape living in a small community, however lovely the people are, just for a while…)

This is what we need to be learning in universities, and in schools: what changes make sense? Personally, I think there’s no one size fits all, but I think we could make better decisions and work better as a species if we had more clarity and better research to identify the facts.

Raining again, but this is what I did on my birthday – took the boat out – and jumped off! Image

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