3rd Station – Our relationship with AIR
Find yourself a quiet space in which to work, with internet access, near an open window or outside if you have a garden or other outside space at your home where you can still get online. You will need a pen and paper and access to both the AIR – What I will do and why worksheet and the Garden Yoga resource sheet either in hard copy or online.
The air we breathe is a mixture of gases that are essential to our survival. There is a direct link between the cleanliness of our air and our health. When the air becomes polluted with particles and gases from sources such as vehicle exhaust, factories, dust, pollen, mold spores, volcanoes and wildfires, breathing in that polluted air can impact our health. Air quality also affects our climate and the world around us. Emissions of pollutants into the air can result in changes to the climate, which in turn can result in changes to air quality.
Watch this short film – Nature is Speaking – by Conservation International (CI) Joan Chen gives the sky a voice:
Now open the window or step outside your home and take a deep breath. What do you notice? In recent weeks there have been widespread reports across the world of an improvement in the quality of the air we breathe as an unintended consequence of closures to factories and workplaces and travel restrictions reducing fuel emissions. These satellite images show a sudden reduction in levels of pollution over China and Italy during lock down.
Data collected from the Tropospheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI) ESA’s Sentinel-5 satellite shows a significant drop of nitrogen dioxide – a gas mainly emitted by cars, trucks, power plants and some industrial plants – over China between 1st January and 25th February 2020:
A similar effect can be seen over Italy:
We can see that human activity has a direct and immediate impact on the quality of the air that we breathe, but why does this matter?
Watch and Learn:
Choose one of the following short films for an overview of topics and issues relating to air pollution. As you watch make some notes under the following headings:
- What is air pollution?
- Why is air pollution harmful?
- What are the main sources of air pollution?
- What can we do about it?
National Geographic – Air pollution 101
EcoDisco – Introduction to Air Pollution
Air pollution – a major global public health issue
We are all in this together:
Having established that air pollution is a major environmental concern, the next question is: What can we do about it? Whilst many of the large-scale strategies to combat air pollution are dependent upon on political policy-making and require macro-level action by businesses and governments, we can still have a positive impact as consumers and citizens. We can do this through changing personal actions and behaviours, and through promoting positive behaviours within our households and communities based on the things we can control.
Consolidate your learning:
Read this article which recommends actions that individuals can take to contribute to improving air quality and reducing pollution.
Use the worksheet “AIR – What I will do and why” (or draw your own version) to capture your thoughts about behaviours you can change and actions that you can take (encourage your friends and family to take) that will make a contribution to improving air quality and reducing pollution.
Discuss your thoughts with your friends and family (and classmates if you are connected online) and include some of their ideas.
You might also want to watch some of the following short films to extend your learning:
Help Plant Trees: How Trees Clean the Air
A NASA study explains how to purify air with house plants:
Everyday Good – Air Pollution
China’s war on Air Pollution
Arunabh Ghosh – 5 Steps for clean air in India
GGTN Africa – Tackling Air Pollution
Appreciating AIR – reflective activity:
Having spent some time exploring our impact on the air around us, we are now going to spend some time reflecting on the impact that fresher and cleaner air can have on us whilst practising some nature-inspired yoga poses.
Grab your Garden Yoga resource sheet and step outside. If you don’t have outside space, make sure your are positioned near an open window. Find a space to sit and slow yourself right down.
Take some long, deep breaths, roll your shoulders and close your eyes. Allow yourself time to arrive and adjust from “doing” into “being.”
Breathe – Focus on your breathing and consider: Does the air feel different? Is it cleaner or fresher than it would usually be? Take a moment to appreciate the air.
Now listen – Is the environment around you quieter than normal? Can you hear the sounds of nature? You might hear the wind rustling in the trees; can you hear birdsong? Take a moment to appreciate the peace.
Let this calm be the punctuation at the beginning and end of your yoga practice.
Follow the flow of yoga poses on the sheet. With each pose, connect with nature through visualising yourself as the animal or plant that you are representing in the pose.
At the end take a moment once again to sit calmly, breathe and listen to the world around you.
If you would like to add a nature-inspired pose to the sheet, please draw us a diagram and write a description, take a photograph of it and share it via the link below. You could also ask someone in your family to take a photograph of you demonstrating one of the poses and share it here (be sure to tick the box if you are happy for us to share your photo online):