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August 25, 2016

Go ahead, take a deep breath.  As air rushes into our lungs, we are reminded of how we've come alive.

We need nature to survive. There is no denying that at the core of our being, we are connected to the whole of life on a cellular level. We are, by definition, animals, and therefore we are a part of the greater ecosystem. We need clear air, clean water and food from the earth. It is humanity's lesson to learn how to become at peace with nature. As we experience unprecedented environmental degradation, the current state of the world is proof that we need to be in harmony with the earth.

It is the only way to save ourselves.

Everything in this universe is connected. It is an immense symphony and each player has a part. The river's tide and rain are percussion, the creatures and plants are individual instruments that create unique sounds; that each plays a vital role in. As humans, we are no different.

It is my deepest belief that we are not separate from nature. We are one and must play our part.

As a child, every summer I paddled my grandmother's canoe across a deep green mosaic of sand dollars and moon jellies, the air dense with life, the faint sound of eagles calling. Evergreen trees lined the nearby shores, reaching toward the silver sky of British Columbia.These vivid childhood memories, in which I was fully immersed in nature, imprinted on me and motivated me to choose a career dedicated to the natural world. Years later, my philosophy that we are intrinsically connected to nature is stronger than ever.

I am, in every sense of the word, anature nomad. My travels have brought me around the world and currently to Alaska, where I am inspired by the wildness of an intact ecosystem. In every terrain I have traveled, by water and air, from Asia, the South Pacific, New Zealand, Europe, Latin America and North America. I seek to connect with the natural world, to spread the intention of caring for and protecting the planet. When I speak of my love for nature, my passion and enthusiasm is illuminated just as it was when I was a child, paddling that old steel canoe. Now, as an adult, I have worn many hats, but all of which have an overarching theme of connecting to nature. As an ecologist, yoga teacher, writer, photographer, and environmental educator, I communicate to others that we are an integral part of the earth.

It is our responsibility to save our planet in order to save ourselves.

Nature has been my sanctuary since before I can remember. My entire life I have pursued learning and teaching about the environment. Each day I wake up with gratitude in my heart for this journey. I begin by bringing awareness to breath, listening to the rain or wind outside, feeling the sunlight on my skin and looking out the window to see what weather the day will bring. I get outside everyday, whether climbing a mountain, surfing or just going for a walk. Each day, I connect with nature and feel a welling of gratitude in my heart for the precious gift of life.

My work in wild places feeds my desire to conserve the earth. While working as a wildlife biologist and ecologist in the wilderness, I am directly engaged in pristine ecosystems where it is blindingly apparent how delicate and complex the natural world is. I've worked with whales, birds, plants, and coastal marine ecosystems where I gather information about the current state of the environment. Through science we can come to better understand the world we live in. Gathering data about ecosystems can shed light on how we can improve the way we treat our surroundings. I educate others about the importance of nature and practice leave-no-trace ethics, clean up garbage and travel with mindfulness. I believe education is one of the most crucial tools for our changing world and as an environmental educator I enjoy teaching kids (1-100 years old) about ecosystems and how they can make a difference in their own lives. I am constantly on a mission to collaborate with ecological initiatives, because I believe we are stronger together. The more like-minded people that generate innovative projects will be a

catalyst for positive change. I am constantly seeking creative souls to bounce ideas off of and strive to bring passionate individuals together to create a healthier world. I have worked with National Parks, Surfrider Foundation, Kauai Nature School and plan to run my own adventure-based mindfulness programs to combine my love of ecology and yoga. I believe change starts with the individual and it is more important than ever to recycle, cut down on fossil fuel emissions, eat local, support sustainable businesses and to speak out about environmental issues.

I have always had a great love for nature, but it has never been so strong and vibrant as when I combine it with my yoga practice. Yoga has taught me that we are bound to nature by our breath.

We are bound to nature with our minds, bodies and souls.

It is this connection that makes us whole; the only constant in our ever-changing reality. In every culture, it is exhibited that we are an essential part of the earth and when we speak of a higher source, we are talking directly about our energetic connection to nature. While I teach yoga, I incorporate breath into each posture, drawing vital energy or prana into the asanas, bringing awareness to the philosophy that we are individually connected to the greater whole of the universe. I find yoga is a clear way to communicate intangible energy through tangible breath and the power that is cultivated through asanas.

It is this interconnectedness that brings me peace when the world feels wildly out of control.

Bringing attention to weather patterns and the simple rhythms of our body can bring clarity to the mind. I often practice outside; at times, I spontaneously find myself doing a headstand while looking over alpine lakes or ocean cliffs.

Yoga is the secret key to unlock our suffering in the fast paced world of materialism and bring us back to ourselves; our simplistic nature of breathing and being at peace is our sacred association to the natural world. Many people will speak harshly about the state of our world, bringing conversations of doom and gloom to the table, saying that humans are ruining the planet with greed and consumerism. Perhaps we are, but it is not our true essence.

We are simply out of balance.

Humanity is on a journey to learn how to get back into balance. We must start with ourselves, by treating our own inner ecosystems, our bodies and minds, with love and respect; by eating mindfully, meditating and getting outside everyday. Through yoga we can start to gain the awareness of what is like to be in harmony with our surroundings. As we work to save ourselves, we can ultimately save the planet.

I urge you to take a deep breath.

Our world depends on it.

Love and peace,
Elisa Weiss