I wasn't on my yoga mat today. I was in Albany, New York, the state capital, with a piece of Sharpie-lettered cardboard and my voice. Today Governor Cuomo was giving the State of the State address and almost two thousand New Yorkers thought it would be a good time to tell him what we thought of the hydraulic fracking proposal by the oil and gas industry. Loudly.
Fracking isn't a direct threat to the Adirondacks, not like it is to the rural communities in Western New York, but contamination of the drinking water in one part of the state is bad for the whole state. One hundred years ago the property owners in Schroon Lake, the town I live in, had to band together and fight to keep the Schroon River valley from being flooded to create a giant reservoir to supply the downstate area with water. If the Adirondacks is the only place in New York with drinkable water, are we going to have to have that same fight again?
Today, my yoga practice was standing for four hours, waiving my cardboard sign and chanting "Ban fracking now!" until I was hoarse. Doesn't sound like yoga? Activism has a basis in yoga philosophy. The Bhagavad Gita is about Karma Yoga, or the yoga of selfless action. In the Gita's story, Krishna convinces Arjuna, a warrior prince, to stand up for what's right and defend his people, even though he will be battling some of his own family and friends.
Today's anti-fracking protest was conveniently scheduled for my day off and was fairly close to home. I don't often get the chance to practice sign-waiving-asana. Most days my Karma Yoga practice is quieter, simply living my life in a way that supports the causes I care about. Small actions, like stopping to pick up a discarded bottle for recycling because I value the environment, are as much a part of activism as a day of protesting. Twenty minutes sending loving-kindness to all beings turns my meditation into selfless action.
If environmental activism is your thing, check out the Green Yoga Association for ideas about how to live, and practice yoga, greener. For some information about fracking and why so many of us are trying to keep it out of New York, look at New Yorkers Against Fracking, the Sierra Club, and Food & Water Watch.