Simple Things YOU Can Do to Live a Natural Lifestyle
By Kristin, age 14, California
It's a new year, and this year everyone is making changes to help save our bodies and our planet. I'm not talking about putting in solar panels or making drastic changes to your daily routine, just doing your part to help yourself and the planet you call home.
Going 'Light' GreenSome people seem to think that if they can't singlehandedly save the world, there isn't a way they can help. But you can - anyone can contribute to the fight to save the planet in just a few minutes a day.
1. Recycle! Recycle! Recycle! Save up your aluminum cans and plastic bottles and take them to your local recycling center. This not only keeps those harmful things out of landfills, but they actually pay you to do the right thing! Remember, aluminum cans take two centuries to biodegrade, and styrofoam is virtually impossible to biodegrade.
2. An even easier form of recycling is reusing items such as plastic or paper grocery bags and water bottles by spending a few dollars to purchase reusable grocery bags and water bottles (www.reusablebags.com).
3. Shave 2 minutes (Yes, only two!) off your time in the shower for an easy way to save 10 gallons of water and the energy needed to heat it.
4. Turn off your computer when you aren't using it and unplug things like chargers and lamps when they aren't in use to save electricity.
Switch off the lights when you leave the room.
Making the Mind-Body ConnectionNow that you know how to help the earth, it's time to help yourself. In 30 minutes a day, you can improve your body and your mind by taking time out for a yoga practice. Yoga is a gentle form of exercise that can help you relax, and it also helps improve flexibility and gives you more energy. A happy combination of relaxing stretching exercises and circuit training can make you feel great. A terrific book for any girl interested in trying her hand (and the rest of her body) at yoga is Yoga Chick: A Hip Guide to Everything Om by Bess Gallanis (available at bookstores or on amazon.com).
A basic yoga practice usually consists of 10 or 11 simple gentle poses which can quickly stretch your entire body.
1. Every yoga practice starts with the basic mountain pose - standing straight up with your arms at your sides.
2. Next is a standing arm raise. Raise both arms straight above your head and hold for 3 to 5 breaths.
3. A standing arm raise with a back bend stretches your upper back and your biceps. Keeping your arms raised, as with the previous pose, bend your upper back.
4. Standing straight up, fold your arms and bend forward.
5. Staying bent over, unfold your arms and place your hands flat on the ground with your legs straight. If you can't reach the ground, don't be discouraged. It takes time to build your flexibility. Stay in this position for 3 to 5 breaths.
6. Downward facing dog is a basic flow pose that works your arms and legs.
7. The next pose is called the cat pose. On your hands and knees, lower your back as deeply as you can.
8. This is a resting pose called "child's pose". Kneel on the floor, sit back on your heels, and bend forward, placing your forehead on the ground and your hands to your side.
9. Child's pose is easily extended by stretching your arms out in front of you.
10. Lastly is peaceful pose, lying flat on your back. This is a pose that you can stay in as long as you'd like.
In a perfect world everyone would recycle, everyone would have time to meditate for hours a day, and the word stress would not be in the dictionary. Since we don't live in a perfect world, we all have to try a little harder in order to have a healthy body and a clean planet. Always remember, even small changes in your daily routine like turning off the light when you leave a room can make a difference, and just 10 minutes of yoga is a great kick start to your day. Remember to make time to contribute to your planet and to your soul.
Recycling photos courtesy of SDM site model Katherine.
Yoga and "turning off light swtich" photos courtesy of SDM site model Alba.