Category Archives: Nature
July 16 is World Snake Day. While snakes may seem a bit scary, they play a vital role in our ecosystem. Indiana, where I live, has 33 native species of snakes, four of which are venomous. If you’re afraid of snakes, learning about them can help dispel your fears or at least teach you how to avoid them. If you love snakes, celebrate them by doing a little cobra pose.
Getting into it
- Lying on your stomach, bring your hands under elbows (or under your shoulders for less intensity) and hug your elbows in to your sides.
- Engage the legs so that all toes are gently pressed into the floor; the feet will stay on the floor in this pose. Engage the abdomen. Lengthen the spine and, on an inhale, begin to lift the head, neck, and shoulders as one unit.
- Press into the hands without straightening the arms all the way and keep your neck in neutral.
- Helps reestablish the natural curve of the lumbar region
- Helps relieve lower back pain and stiffness
- Tones the spine
June 19th is World Sauntering Day — a day meant to remind us to slow down and enjoy life. Getting out and walking in nature is an especially effective way to find peace, solitude, and beauty. The following meditation from Mike George’s 1001 Meditations can be useful today.
Walk on the calm side. When your brain feels foggy and confused, taking a ten minute walk in quiet surroundings will clear your head. As you walk, make a conscious effort to breathe deeply, inhaling for two steps and exhaling for two steps in order to regulate your breathing pattern. With each out-breath imagine that the clouds in your mind are gradually clearing. At the end of your walk, take three deep breaths, and gently share your head to clear any remaining mental fog.
The first Saturday in June is National Trails Day, a day to get out and enjoy the beauty and calming effects of nature. You can turn your hike into a meditation, focusing on each step or the breath to stay in the present. Whatever you do, find a little time to get outside today.
May is Gardening for Wildlife Month. Planning a wildlife garden to attract the type of wildlife you want can be fun. You can always purchase pre-planned kits from reputable sources or you can plan your own. The National Wildlife Federation has a certified habitat program and provides some great tips to get started.
To provide a balanced habitat, here are the elements you’ll need to consider.
- Food sources: Wildlife needs herbaceous plants, shrubs, and trees that can provide food including pollen, nectar, seeds, berries, and the like. You’ll want to pick a variety of plants that will provide food throughout the year.
- Water: You’ll need to provide a source not only for drinking but also bathing and reproduction.
- Cover: Animals need and want cover plants so they can either hide or stalk their prey.
- Places to raise young: Many species have different habitat needs in their juvenile phase than they do as adults. Providing spaces for raising young will attract more wildlife.
When gardening for wildlife, using native plants is the best option for attracting local wildlife. One of the most useful plants in the native garden is purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). It’s benefits include:
- Attractive, long-lasting summer blooms add beauty both on it’s own and mixed in with other flowering plants in the garden. Blooms last from summer to fall and the seed heads lend intrest to the garden in the winter
- Butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds use the coneflower as a nectar source.
- Caterpillars and moths use it as a food source.
- It’s a hardy, naturalizing perennial. They self-sow, don’t need to be divided, and are drought tolerant. You’ll save time, money, and other resources .
- After the blooms fade, birds feast on the seeds.
- A diverse landscape using native plants can support an abundance of wildlife and can especially help declining populations, like pollinators;
- Using native plants conserves energy since they are acclimated to the local climate, requiring less water and maintenance once established;
- Attractive plantings and the wildlife drawn to them create artistic and educational opportunities; and
- You can share in the food abundance! Herbs like mints and parsley attract butterflies and fruit trees and shrubs attract lots of birds and mammals.
Throughout the month, I’ll be posting more info about resources and specific plants for specific wildlife. Feel free to let me know what you’d like to see here.
Every April 19 is National Hanging Out Day. Established by Project Laundry List, the day is meant to call attention to the amount of energy we use to dry our clothes. According to their estimates, between 6 and 10 percent of residential energy use is spent on drying clothes. A simple way to save money, help the environment, and spend some time outside is to line dry your laundry. Make sure to check your local ordinances before you use a clothesline; it’s may actually be banned where you live. If you can’t dry outside, you can always use a laundry rack inside.
May we all live a little greener,
As National Gardening Month continues and gardeners get outside more and more, it’s important to remember to honor the body. Moving the body before going to work is important. So, too, is taking breaks to stretch out the spine and legs. Occasional breaks will, in the long run, allow for more time to be spent gardening.
Here are some suggestions for some simple yoga poses that can be done in the garden.
Enjoy your time outside!
Yoga and gardening, aside from being two activities I enjoy, have a lot in common.
- A garden only thrives when we tend to it. The same can be said for our health. A yoga practice can help us maintain our physical and mental well-being.
- In gardening, you quickly learn that there is a connection between all systems. A plant only does well in the right soil, with the right amount of water, with the right sun exposure, and so on. Our bodies are the same way. An injury or imbalance in the hips may lead to back and/or knee pain. Stress can show up as tension in our shoulders, shortness of breath, and headaches. You have to work with more than one system to find balance.
- Yoga and gardening can reveal something new every day. Each day in the garden brings changes to plants, both good and bad. You might have plants suddenly budding out or you might have weeds suddenly popping up everywhere. In our yoga practice, you can do the same pose every day and every day there will be something different about it; some days it may be easy and some days it may be hard. I love that.
- If you’re a gardener, you likely know to prep your soil before starting. But do you prep your body for the physical exertion you’re about to do? A little yoga before, during, and after gardening won’t keep all aches and pains away, but it will likely help them go away faster. Click here for some gentle before-gardening poses (and watch this site for some during and after poses later this month).
Meet you in the garden,