I hope you are enjoying our long-overdue Spring weather! Spring is in the air – the welcome sound of the birds returning north, the trees now in full bloom, and all the annual flowers bringing color back to the parks and tree beds. Not being a “Winter” person by nature, I truly welcome the longer days and warmer weather. My husband and I have “adopted” a tree along the Columbus Avenue bike path right near Upper Westside Yoga, and today we planted beautiful pink and purple flowers in the tree pit. People walking by us as we planted were so appreciative. Knowing that our neighbors notice the improvements, makes the uniquely urban gardening (discarding chewing gum, cigarette butts, glass, and garbage found in the dirt) worthwhile. To learn more about urban planting, I just signed up take a month-long class with Trees NY ( www.treesny.org ) to become an official NYC Tree Steward. If you too are interested, there are still some spots left in the training – details are on their website.
I recently learned about Trees NY when I organized a large community symposium last Saturday – part of my volunteer work with my neighborhood association. We were able to bring together community leaders, block associations, garden groups, government agencies, non-profits, local businesses, environmental organizations, students, and elected officials (Public Advocate Letitia James, NY State Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and City Council Member Helen Rosenthal) – all gathering to discuss ways we could improve NYC, and learn from one another. As with the past two years, it was a lot of work, but ultimately was a very positive experience as it all came together on the day of the event. Swami Satchidananda, who founded Integral Yoga, often defined yoga as “selfless service” – the practice of Karma Yoga. I truly believe that community work and/or volunteer work is yogic. After all, it is an outward expression of the realization that we are all connected. It is an opportunity to be involved with something that transcends the self and benefits others, without expecting payment for services. I find it especially rewarding when it is a group project – knowing that I am just one piece of the puzzle working towards the common good. I am attaching an article about the symposium here, and this is the link: http://nypress.com/block-symposium-brings-community-leaders-together/.