Health & Our Environment: Yoga Off the Mat by Rebecca Alexander

I have been practicing yoga for almost half of my life. While my practice has certainly evolved and fluctuated especially during the first few years (read: some years I practiced once a month, some years 2x/day!), one thing that has always remained was the angle of mindfulness that it encourages me to follow. I remember the first time I heard a yoga teacher tell a class that our “real work” began once we left yoga class. At first, I really thought she was talking about what we had planned for the rest of the day: was I going to exercise more, or meditate, or do something else really calming, stress-relieving, and “zen”? In some ways, I actually felt like nothing I could do would be enough or have any impact.

One day, it simply dawned on me: living and practicing yoga didn’t only mean practicing postures or going to class. There are eight limbs to yoga, of which “asana” or the physical poses are just one. Sometimes we forget about the others, and that was what was going on with me. Yama and Niyama are two other limbs of yoga; the former are restraints or moral disciplines (like committing to using a reusable bottle), and the latter are positive duties and observations (like wanting to give back to the community, of help the environment).

To me, living on the earth means living with the earth. I know as upstate NYers we see all of the seasons, watch the ground change and the leaves, trees, and plants. Even the animals that we see can be different throughout the year. I’m an avid hiker, and one thing I do is pick up trash on trails if I see it as I’m going by. I do this because I believe in a world where we can have the purest of natural environments in our wild areas. I believe in doing my part to reducing plastic consumption and single-use items.

For the last few years, I have been using a reusable water bottle, taking it wherever I go to avoid buying plastic water bottles, and I feel like it has made a huge difference. Not only am I drinking more water and feeling better overall, but I feel gratitude every time I fill it up. People often ask me where I got it, because it's a really convenient size, too. At Syracuse Yoga, there is a triple filtered drinking cooler that’s open for anyone to use. I’m launching a campaign to decrease the use of plastic and single-use items at our studio-- I hope you’ll join!

For me, living each day mindfully, thinking of how every action that we take can play a role in the world around us can change not only ourselves, our inner circles of family and friends, but also the community at large makes life all the more meaningful. I implore you to join our campaign, and also engage in yoga off the mat. Talk to me about it, I’d love to hear how you use this mindset outside of the studio! Maybe I’ll even see you at the cooler before or after class ;).

 Rebecca Alexander is a Physical Therapist and 200-hr Registered Yoga Teacher. She received her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from SUNY Upstate and completed her Yoga Teacher Training at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Massachusetts. For more information about Rebecca visit www.facebook.com/yogawithRebeccaS/

Rebecca Alexander is a Physical Therapist and 200-hr Registered Yoga Teacher. She received her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from SUNY Upstate and completed her Yoga Teacher Training at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Massachusetts. For more information about Rebecca visit www.facebook.com/yogawithRebeccaS/