Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Eco-Newbie Yoga Primer!

A while back Mel, From Clutter To Shine, requested that a sort of Yoga-Newbie-Eco-Guide be posted for a quick reference of the essentials for an eco-yogi/ni. What a fantastic idea! Since she gave a quick primer on 'unschooling children' (awesome post- check it out!) then it's only fair I follow suite!
(yoga in the park in May!)

Eco-Yoga Newbie Guide

*N.B. The best first step in "greening" your practice is to decrease your consumption. Buying something new just because it's "green" and throwing your old mat/gear into the landfill/dump will not make our Earth happy. If you do have valid reasons for investing in new yoga products, then please check out this post on some ideas on what to do with your old mat and enjoy! :)

Yoga Mat!
Currently there are a zillion different kinds of yoga mats claiming to be "green"- so how is a yogi/ni to see through all the greenwashing and make the best choice?
Currently, one of the most eco-friendly products (other than keeping your own) that has the best performance is natural rubber. So far it's a toss up between Manduka's Eko natural rubber mat and Jade's natural rubber mat. Prana also has a natural rubber mat- but it's 90$ American... ACK. My advice- while visiting a class, check to see if they have any of these mats for you to try out during practice.
Also, if you are sensitive to strong scents, smell smell smell before you buy!
If you'd like more indepth mat info that I've accumulated so far please check out the yoga saga links on the right :)

Yoga Mat Bag!
I LOVE checking out etsy for handmade yoga mat bags... and if I didn't already have one that's probably where I would go. Don't you love this beautiful recycled Obi-Yoga Mat bag? If I had 120$ Another option is making your own from fabrics you already have! Check out this fabulous how-to!

Yoga Prop!
As a bendy-challenged person, blocks and straps are very useful in my practice. The best "eco" option I found currently has been cork blocks. I have the Halfmoon cork block and LOVE it. With all the drama right now surrounding bamboo and how it may be harvested (check out this post for more info on
bamboo and eco-concerns) I feel better circumventing the whole issue with cork. Cork is heavier (less movement and helps with strength building) and softer.

Yoga Clothing!
I admit; I own mostly Lululemon yoga clothing; old school before it was outsourced and made in China. However there are definitely other options out there:
- wear whatever you are comfortable in! No new clothes bought :)
- Karma Clothing: made in Canada and has bamboo options (not ideal...)
- Skyler Clothing: made in Canada, pro-women/mother's rights (hires mothers to work from home)
- Gaiam: has organic cotton yoga options... all made in China (boo)

My first priority: Made in Canada, then I look for eco-fibers like organic cotton, hemp, soy, bamboo.

If anyone knows of other great companies I'd LOVE to hear about them :)

Yoga Bottle!
Bringing your water to class is essential and you care about what is leaching into your eau... Unfortunately there is no easy option, but so far the best choice is Stainless Steel. I LOVE my Klean Kanteen and Andrews hearts his too! They are easy to clean and very durable. Although nice and light, aluminum requires a "mystery" coating to protect your water from toxins leaching from the aluminum. Check out my post here for more info on options and all the fabulous things Klean Kanteen does for the planet! (our klean kanteen bottles posing in the strawberry plant- I am so artsy!)

Yoga Mat Cleaning Supplies!
lemon juice+water. Really that's it. You may want to try some tea tree oil for disinfectant or vinegar. All those little Josha wipes etc etc are extra waste and unnecessary. Careful with your rubber mat however, as quick dunks in the tub could actually make it slippery for the first few days!

Some helpers to make your practice more eco-friendly:

Home practice
Instead of driving to class every week, try upping your home practice. Yoga Journal has awesome sequence builders and there are many fantastic dvd's (I like Seane Corn) and online podcasts. It will help deepen your understanding of your own practice, save the planet and save you money!

Walk/bike/bus to class
Now that summer is here (in the Northern Hemisphere) walking and biking to yoga is a great way to continue your connection with Earth and your practice. Find out local bus routes and encourage your studio to post them!

Practice Outside
Regular readers know I LOVE outside practice. Such a quick and obvious way to emphasize our connection to our planet and tune ourselves to Nature.

Eat "green"
Try a "meatless Monday" to decrease your impact on our Earth through your meat consumption. Try buying the Top Ten Dirtiest Offenders produce as Organic to keep your body and our planet happy. For a list see here.

Be present, be happy!
By recognizing our interconnected and dynamic relationship with Earth and Her residents we can begin to notice small ways to change how we interact and behave with each other and the environment. Our planet is not "other", we are it. :)

Hope this was helpful, and I'd LOVE to hear any other suggestions or options you have!



  1. Great list! Nice break down to help yogi/inis have a greener practice. I love biking to class in the summer: aerobic exercise + strengthening/ stretching in class.

    As for clothing, I like Patagonia: lots of organic cottons and recycled/ recyclable fibers (you can just send clothing back for recycling when it's no longer wearable!). But that won't be for a long time, as their stuff, which is made for climbers, wears like steel. I think I've had one of my pairs of yoga pants from Patagonia since I started practicing 8 years ago! And, they also participate in 1% for the Planet, giving one percent of proceeds to environmental organizations. The only downside I can think of is that a lot of their stuff is made in China.

  2. Thanks Lisa - this ROCKS!! Thanks bejillions for taking the time to put it together.

    I have my eye on a studio - right across the street from my work (where I bike to) and plan to sign up for some classes in the fall. I tried the at-home thing but ended up with *partners* - great for a laugh, but learning properly and giggling madly with your 4 1/2 and 6 yo. just don't go together...:)

    Thanks heaps again and I'll be referring back...:0

    PS. I also heart my Klean Kanteen...:)

  3. Elizabeth (OBB): thanks :) OUUU Patagonia looks fabulous! also- I LOVE their environmental policies-blog-site!! so cool. Check out their statement on why they don't use bamboo- WOOT!!
    already I can tell that this company respects their consumers and I LOVE IT. Thanks so much for sharing!!

    Mel: You're welcome! :) It was a great idea and I was excited to do it!
    ouuu a new studio! that sounds like fun! I had a mental image of your "partner" yoga and had a little giggle myself- you're right, studio might be a little more zen haha. :)
    woo Klean Kanteen!

  4. Wow you have provided an amazing list. I love yoga. It helps to increase their concentration, fitness, self control, flexibility and coordination and many other benefits. Now a days children are also learning it. Its good to know they are also taking interest. To know more about it, refer yoga for children

  5. Thanks for the eco reminders and the link for making your own yoga mat bag. I have plans for this with some leftover sari fabric.

  6. Thanks! I need some motivation to try to establish some home practice (AND to try to find a class that isn't 20+ miles away on the freeway).

  7. try rawganique, they have EVERYTHING eco.
    I bought a hemp yoga mat from them and love it.


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