Ingela’s Reflection

Yoga and Politics?
Safety, non-harm, Ahimsa


Yoga and politics, are they really compatible? “Personally I like to just do yoga and live my own life, and forget about politics. It doesn’t matter who you vote for, they are all corrupt and it won’t make a difference one way or another.” That is the voice of some people. In my case, I used to just think that other people were already taking care of making reasonable decisions in the government on local and national level, letting me go on with my life peacefully and hoped everything would be fine, one way or another.

Well, after 40 adult years I am realizing that whatever goes on in our local government daily, and in Washington DC, and in China … actually has a big effect on our daily lives and some decisions can be very harmful for our future health and safety in the coming year, and for the future safety of our children, our country and our world.

I do yoga so I can be healthy and move around safely in my body, on my own two feet. Yoga also helps me move forward with wisdom and joy on my life journey and mission towards a happy, healthy old age. But unfortunately yoga alone will not make everything perfect. Everything I do daily is affected by my physical and social environment; whether it is safe and healthy or harmful and destructive.

For example: “Is the water I drink safe and healthy, out of the tap at home or from a plastic bottle? Is the salmon safe to eat from the fish farm? Are shrimps from the Gulf coast safe to eat after the oil spill? Is the tea from India or the coffee from Africa safe from unknown pesticides? Is the GMO in my tofu or corn chips safe for my organs? Is the air I breathe safe to inhale into my lungs and body?” And are the pills my friend takes for her heart and diabetic conditions safe for the rest of her body?

Nothing in Life is 100% Safe…

…but on other hand everything we eat, drink and breathe affects us directly or indirectly with time. Our bodies are made up of billions of “recycled” cells and molecules that are in a constant exchange with our environment. Some change daily like our skin cells, others every 3 months (red blood cells) and some every few years (bone cells). We are not separate from nature. We are parts of nature. For example, the calcium in the broccoli you or somebody ate yesterday might have been broken down in the soil for many years with the help of worms and other creatures. In turn calcium molecules originally might have come from a dinosaur a million years ago, giving you calcium and strength in your legs today to walk around freely thanks to the dinosaurs and the worms. We are all interconnected.

While we are in a constant exchange of molecules with our environment, our DNA gives us an inner blueprint we have inherited for millions of years through evolution with our own unique eye color, length of legs and size of smile. So, on one hand our bodies are a bunch of recycled molecules. But on the other hand we are walking around in our own unique “heirloom” that has been handed down to us through many generations and thousands of years to now care for in this lifetime with honor and respect.

So, let’s return to “safety and health”. Back in the 1970s, after the Vietnam War, there was a strong movement to take our country back to quality living with cooperation, solidarity, care, health and safety for all the diverse people and life conditions in our society. Many laws were implemented and strengthened, including the Civil Rights Movement, the Women’s Rights for abortion, the EPA with the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act, and the FDA with safe food and drug laws.


Safe Regulations?

Unfortunately, now 40 years later many of these rules and regulations have slowly been hampered with “behind the scenes.” Many little “loopholes” have been dug into the laws and regulations to allow some corporations and people more opportunity for profit, wealth and power to the detriment of our future safety, health and freedom. There is a forceful movement in our country right now to eliminate government regulations and allow some corporations an open door for maximum productivity, and profit; to eliminate EPA, the clean water Act, the Clean Air Act, and FDA. Unfortunately, our country has been infected by corporate greed, which will sadly bring about severe destruction to our future personal safety and freedom, but also to the future safety of our earth. It’s like we are living in a beautiful mansion with a foundation that is unknowingly being eaten up by termites called greed and corruption that will soon crumble if we don’t clean them out.

The more power and freedom we give to big corporations, the less power and freedom we get as people. We are currently fortunate to have a democracy in this country that people in the past fought hard for, and even died for, to help give us freedom today. We can still vote for people that represent our views, needs, and values; that have integrity and deeply care for our social and environmental wealth, health and safety. If we eliminate government control and replace it with corporate control, we will have NO voting power in the corporate world, unless we are wealthy stockholders. We will simply loose our democratic freedom. We will not know which toxins are put into our water, air, food and drugs. We will not know if off-shore oil drillings are safe, if the gas companies with the “hydraulic-fracking” industry are safe or if the transport of coal across our beautiful country overseas will be safe for us, our environment and our ecosystem.

We already have fewer regulations in the US regarding the safety of our air, water, food, drugs and industrial activities than most other western nations. It’s not necessarily one pesticide, or chemical preservative or toxic substance that will harm us. It’s the continual accumulation of toxins in our daily life, year after year, that with time will cause harm to our cells, organs and glands and make us more susceptible to different kinds of cancer, allergies, asthma, parkinson’s disease and other degenerative diseases, in turn harming our quality and length of life. Many toxins build up in our bodies, while our cells are constantly being recycled.


Safe Food and Water

More and more pesticides are poured on our produce each year to increase its productivity and shelf life. A few years ago I was in the Midwest helping some friends to clean out a barn full of old buckets of pesticides. We took a truckload of buckets to the “dump”, but they wouldn’t take the “toxic waste”, yet we pour it on our food and digest it daily.

And even if you buy organic chicken or corn without pesticides, the water absorbed by the organic corn fed the chickens might have been contaminated by toxic water from the hydraulic fracking industry. Lately, some of the “toxic cocktails” and residues that have been returned to deep ground wells after extracting natural gas from the earth have leaked out into the ground water and brought toxic substances including diesel fuels into people’s tap water that can be lit on fire! Some people living near the fracking industry in the East and Southwest have been forced to stop drinking their water and taking showers after their tap water turned brown with toxic and smelly substances.

One reason these so-called “safe” fracking containers deep down in the earth have leaked are the multiple earthquakes caused by the deep earth drilling process. Currently more toxins are being extracted into our earth from the fracking industry than from any other industry in history. And, coincidentally, the Clean Water Act was exempt from the natural gas industry in 2005, with the “Energy Policy Act” crafted in a closed door meeting including the Vice President at that time; one of the main stockholders of the natural gas industry. Many things are also interconnected in our corporate / government world.

Interestingly, an average citizen can receive large fines under federal law for dumping a car battery into a pond. Yet, gas companies, thanks to the Halliburton Loophole, are allowed to dump millions of gallons of fluid containing toxic chemicals into the ground right next to our aquifers, without even having to identify them. So, we need EPA and even tighter government regulations for our future health and safety.

But, it’s not just toxins from the fracking industry that seep into our ground water, but also other toxins from nuclear wastes, medical wastes, pharmaceutical waste, petroleum waste etc. that with time find their way into our ground water and drinking supplies. Nothing disappears in nature. Everything is constantly being recycled and so are we. So the more we pollute nature, the more she will pollute us in return!


Safe Air

Also, the breath you are taking right now is full of recycled oxygen molecules from tree leaves that were recycled from carbon dioxide molecules that flew over here maybe a week ago from a farmer in China living close to a coal factory. Scientists have found that an oxygen molecule takes about a week to travel from China to Bellingham, Washington. In the middle of June, 2012, in Bellingham, Washington, we had a spectacular sunset caused by a big forest fire in Mongolia. It only took a week for those smoke molecules to show up on our horizon. So, what the coal towers spout out around Beijing also affects us here on the other side of the globe. We are not separate. We are all interconnected.

There is a recent push to increase our own off-shore oil drilling, to help us become independent from imported oil and at the same time eliminate all government regulation to encourage maximum production, profit and jobs. That could be like “Russian roulette”, creating new devastating damage to our countries shorelines, population, livelihood, jobs and marine life. Everybody remembers the oil spill in 2010 from the off-shore drilling that broke down along the Gulf of Mexico and spilled 5 million barrels of oil into the water. Well, the reason for the devastating accident was lack of government regulations and lack of regular control on the equipment being used. In comparison, other countries like Norway and Brazil have much stricter environmental regulations and have to this day not experienced such devastating oil spills and harm to their people and their environment. So, instead of eliminating regulations, we seriously need stricter government regulations to avoid the oil industry to harm us in the future; Safety First.


Safe Drugs

Another safety issue in our daily life is the various drugs and devices that are offered as the latest break through to help us manage heart disease, diabetic problems and hip replacement. One drug, Pradaxa, produced by a German pharmaceutical company, was introduced and accepted in the States by the FDA in 2010, but was banned in Germany. It was announced to the American people to be more effective than Coumadin to regulate heart problems caused by chronic atrial fibrillation. After a year of use it made a billion dollar profit with over million people taking it twice a day. But between 2010 and 2012, 260 people died worldwide from the use of Pradaxa from brain hemorrhaging, internal bleeding, heart attacks and thousands more have experienced serious adverse effects including paralysis; more adverse effects than from any other drug in history. Another drug, Actos, used for diabetic patients, has now been linked to bladder cancer and heart failure. It was recently banned in Germany and France, but is still being used in the States with just an added warning label.

Also 93,000 ASR hip implants used since 2004 have now been recalled because they leaked toxic metal ions into the body. These are just a few examples of how important it is for us to keep the FDA, and even to invigorate the FDA, which has become a lapdog to the pharmaceutical companies. We need increased government control on the multitude of drugs and equipment before they are being used on the American people, instead of other countries using us like a third world testing ground due to our lenient regulations.


Safe Earth

Let’s go back to our oil, gas and coal industry and their effect on our daily lives. According to scientist Richard Muller, global warming is now a reality and is mostly man made, caused by excess use of oil, gas and coal as a fuel worldwide. The US is one of the biggest consumers of these sources of energy in the world today. Mr. Muller, sponsored by oil billionaires, was the main scientific spokesperson for a political party in our country that still disputes global warming. But, in June 2012, Mr. Muller stepped out and announced that he could not deny global warming anymore. How is it possible that a technologically advanced nation like our country can deny such a fact, while the rest of the countries in our world agree that global warming is one of the most serious threats to the safety and future of our earth and needs to be dealt with urgently?

Well, lately there is also a push for an increase in the production and export of these dangerous sources of energy in the pursuit to create more jobs, profit and wealth. We are at a cross road right now. Do we continue using oil, gas and coal at the same rate, or even at an increased rate, to support the continual demand for a growing population in the world with an increased desire for modern comfort? If so, the temperature of the earth will increase with 3-5 degrees Fahrenheit by year 2050, with 50 -175% increase in wildfires and severe droughts with the loss of homes, livestock, food production and jobs! In the US alone the first 7 months of 2012 had the hottest temperatures recorded since 1895 with 28,000 daily high temperature records broken or tied.

The increase in global temperature is predicted to raise the water level around the world 1-4 inches causing 25-40 million people around the world to lose their homes. Much of Florida and New York city’s coastal land will be under water, making our children lose their property, businesses and jobs. What we do today affects the quality of life for future generations. We have inherited a beautiful earth and life and it’s our responsibility to pass it on to our children and future generations as a precious heirloom with care and respect and not destroy it for years to come with our greed.


Safe Future

So, we have gotten addicted to oil, gas and coal to support our modern way of living. Like a bad drug addiction, we are now experiencing the bad side affects they have on our global warming and future health and safety. Is it ethical to support the production and the use of a “dangerous” drug after realizing its poisonous effects, even if we can make money selling the “drugs” to our own population and abroad? Is this an ethical investment in job creation for our people, producing and selling “toxic” drugs?

It is now time for us to make responsible choices; to pave the way towards a healthier future for ourselves, our children, and grandchildren and make wise choices for cleaner and safer energy. There are many alternatives available that can help us move forward and still keep all the comfort, heat and speed that we love with our modern way of life. And at the same time we can create ethical, conscious, clean jobs! Instead of being slaves to the billion dollar oil, gas and coal companies, we the people, can move our country forward with increased investment in education and innovative technology that in turn will invent new sustainable ways to heat our homes, fuel our cars and run our computers. It’s time to invest in efficient solar and wind power and other recyclable resources. Many countries around the world are now making mature and responsible decisions to gradually turn away from devastating energy sources and instead invest in sustainable energy.


Safe Energy

In May 2012, Germany attained a record high of 30% of total energy use being solar power. That is equivalent to 20 huge conventional fossil or nuclear power plants. And the Germans are finding that solar energy is also a cheaper way of supporting their industry and population.

Interestingly, China is now the number one producer of solar energy in the world and they export their panels to Europe and the States. Yet, they got the technology from us! It’s time we take the technology back and even improve on it to create clean jobs and energy. It might seem like a “pie in the sky” technology and an expensive one. Thirty years ago organic food was “a pie- in- the- sky item” and expensive for most to enjoy. After years of increased information, technology and demand, organic foods without GMO and toxic preservatives are now in every isle of the grocery store and very comparable in price. The same will happen with solar energy and other similar green solutions if we give it a chance.

In a similar way regarding our automobile industry: with increased investment in education, technology and research we will find smarter ways to run our automobiles at 50 miles per gallon or better. And with new alternative sources of energy we will be able to keep our air cleaner, ourselves healthier and slow down global warming. Like the organic food business, with more information and demand, a green transportation industry will increase its production and make the prices for driving an energy efficient car more accessible to us in the near future.

I recently heard a politician say that investing in sustainable energy would hurt the oil, coal and gas industry. In 2011, some of our oil corporations experienced record profits, while we taxpayers subsidized and helped them with our tax dollars. The oil, coal and gas companies and their billionaires are far from hurting; instead the most responsible thing they can do is to pay their fair share in taxes and help us turn our country and world around from greed, to care and respect for the future of our great nation and earth.

After World War II, President Eisenhower(R) made millionaires and the top earners pay 90% tax on their yearly income in order to help our country and people get back on their feet after big war expenses in dollars, lives and broken families. After 8 years of increased taxes, with big investments in education and the infrastructure, business was booming and the Dow average doubled. Mr. Eisenhower was a responsible and wise President who invested in building the vast American highway system and made higher education affordable and available to everybody which stimulated a strong and productive technology, industry and economy. In 1972 the top tax rate was 70% with the strongest economy and middle class in US history. At that time, the cost of higher education was also relatively lower, with California even having free universities.

I recently heard of an American man talking to a German millionaire and wondering how he felt having to pay 50% of his income in taxes. The millionaire answered, “I’d rather be rich in a rich country than rich in a poor country.” Currently the US is experiencing a greater income inequality than we have had since 1920. Our income inequality is also greater now than all of Europe, most of Asia and northern Africa. While we are one of the richest nations on Earth, the inequality in the US is more on par with Uganda and Nepal. Also, the income gap is getting worse here at home, making it harder to invest in smart education, healthy jobs and a sustainable safe future. Unfortunately, income inequality breeds more violence and crime and less social safety. In the US we currently spend six times as much on prisons as on higher education. On the contrary, more quality education lowers the crime rate and promotes a safer society. So, we need to shift our priorities around like President Eisenhower(R) did 60 years ago.



Let’s go from taxes back to yoga and Ahimsa and see how the old yogic wisdom of Ahimsa fits into the safety of today’s living. Ahimsa is the most important quality that we weave into our yoga practice. The meaning of Ahimsa embodies non-harming, non-violence, kindness, care and respect. Ahimsa in its essence means to honor all of life with care and respect. In the end of each class we say Namaste’, which means: “The light in me honors the light in you.” Or, “The essence in me honors the essence in you.” Namaste’ is an expression symbolizing an experience that we are all interconnected and interrelated. As a matter of fact, all people on earth are related to the same grandmother in Africa 60,000 years ago. Whether we are white, yellow or black, Christians, Muslims or Buddhists, we are in essence related to each other with the same family tree. But on the other hand we are all uniquely different. There is no human being the same; never has been and never will be.

It’s similar in our human body. There are billions of cells in our bodies, but there are no two cells the same. While all cells are different, they are all equally important. The toe cells are as important as the nose cells, the buttocks as important as the quadriceps and the eyes as important as the livers. Yet together they create a unique human body with unique qualities and unique abilities in life.

And again it’s the same in our human society. While all people are totally different with their own unique qualities, abilities and talents, they are all equally important in creating an extended body of society. The doctor is as important as the garbage man, the teacher as important as the tomato picker and the engineer as important as the truck driver. We all help each other in a continual exchange to support and sustain life together.

While we support each other in a society, every leaf, oxygen molecule and critters on earth are also here helping to support us in a miraculous exchange of life. “Nobody ever succeeds by themselves in life.” Instead yoga teaches us to be grateful for all support in life from our parents, to our teachers, to the people that wrote our school books, to the people that picked the carrots for lunch, to the people that drove them to the market, to the people that made the roads for the truck to drive on, to the dinner served on the table, to the sun, earth, air and water that made the food grow and feed us with healthy, safe, clean and nutritious life energy.

So, Ahimsa means to honor all life with care and respect. To honor and respect each others’ differences, whether we are black or white, Christians or Muslims, liberal or conservative, Democrats or Republicans, meat eaters or vegetarians. Even as we are all equally important, it doesn’t mean we have to agree with each other. We can agree to disagree. It’s time we wake up as a nation. It’s time we learn to listen to each others’ needs and values. Respect each others’ differences and make responsible, wise solutions with cooperation and compromises to create a sustainable, safe life on earth with each other and our natural world.

Neil Armstrong, one of our great astronauts, recently died. Neil and many of our astronauts have had profound experiences looking back at our earth from 100,000 miles away. They went to the moon and discovered the earth. They came back with a greater appreciation and gratitude for this sparkling blue and white planet floating out there in dark space.

Here are a few words from two of our astronauts.

Michael Collins: “To actually be 100,000 miles out, to look out four windows and find nothing but black infinity, to finally locate the blue and white golf ball in the 5th window. I gazed on the jewel-like earth with awe and wonder, suddenly aware of how its uniqueness is stamped in every atom of my body. Suddenly I knew what a tiny, fragile thing earth is.”

Edgar Mitchell: “We went to the moon as technicians; we returned as humanitarians. From 100,000 miles away you develop an instant global awareness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, internal politics looks so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that you son of a b#@%’.”

And Michael Collins continued: “After seeing the earth from afar I determined in that moment that I would do all I could to let people know what a wonderful home we have – before it’s too late.”


Vote for Safety

So, before it’s too late… let’s take care of our country and let’s clean out the “termites,” the greed and corruption and restore our beautiful American mansion. And all yoga people, let’s get off our mats with Ahimsa in our hearts and vote for people locally and nationally, who care for everybody’s future health, and safety. Let’s vote for safe air, water, food, medicine, energy and a safe life on earth for our children and grandchildren. Vote for quality education, innovative technology and sustainable jobs. Every vote is important, we are equally important.

Life is a gift and let’s take good care of it; breath by breath, vote by VOTE!

Namaste’, The Light in me, Honors the Light in You

P.S. The election is over. Phew! Still, whoever you voted for and whoever got elected, we can’t expect them to create miracles. We need to keep reminding them of our needs and visions for the future with emails and phone calls. They appreciate our support and interest.

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Please “Google” the key phrases below for more details.

Unsafe Fracking Industry

Clean Water Act – 2005 – Energy Policy Act./Haliburton Loophole

Pradaxa – Bad – Side affects 2010-2012

Actos – Bad – Side affects

93,000 ASR – Hip Implants – Recall

Richard Muller – global warming, June 2012 – NPR

Affects on global warming

Germany solar power May 2012/ 30% of total energy

President Eisenhower – top income – 90% tax and rebuild the US

Californian Universities – Free tuition – 1960