by K.T. Wiegman
Almost three-quarters of Earth’s surface is covered by water. The planet stores moisture in oceans, lakes, glaciers, ice caps, groundwater – even inside you. No matter what form the water takes, it’s still the same water, changing from liquid to vapor and back again in what we call the water cycle.
It all starts with the sun. Heat from the sun warms up the oceans and lakes and rivers. Some of the water evaporates, rising invisibly through the air. The higher it goes, the cooler it gets. When it gets cold enough, the water sticks to tiny bits of dust or ice in the air, condensing into clouds.
Clouds may look huge, but the water droplets in them are very light. But those droplets can bump into one another and combine, making bigger and heavier drops. When the drops are too heavy to stay in the sky, they fall to Earth as rain, snow, sleet, or hail. That’s called precipitation. Some of that precipitation is absorbed into the ground. Some is frozen into snowpack, ice, or glaciers. The rest is collected by oceans and lakes and rivers, where it gets warmed up by the sun, and the cycle begins again.
The total amount of moisture on Earth doesn’t change. The water in your bottle right now might have been drunk by a dinosaur 65 million years ago. It’s just changed shape over and over in the endlessly repeating water cycle.
Sun Salutations are a cycle too. The next time you do Sun Salutations, try being a drop of water. Starting in Namaste, feel the sun warm you. Raise your arms and evaporate, stretching upward into the sky. Fold forward and let yourself come to Earth like a gentle rain. Lunge with your leg out long and graceful as a river. Push your hips into Down Dog like a snowy mountain peak. Collect yourself back into Namaste and you’ve completed the cycle.
Congratulations, water! Now take a break.