Saturday, April 10, 2010

The hidden carbon emissions of a yoga class

We've chatted about ways to greenify our yoga practice from the best eco-mat (rubber!) to sustainable gear. But we never really talked about how we GET to yoga class. Doesn't it feel a little hypocritical, with our local eco-yoga stuff, to drive down to class in our gas guzzling cars?

Unfortunately, walking to yoga in Halifax is a bit tricky- most studios are at least a 40 minute walk (closest) and although a small city, there is a lot of sketchy stuff that happens after dark here. Public transit is also catastrophically terrible, with evening buses that only run on the half hour... unreliably.

So maybe a quick drive isn't that big of a deal?

According to this site, a small car emits 0.59 lbs of carbon per passenger, per mile. Say I go to Breathing Space Halifax studio, 2.17 miles from my apartment, pretty close. Also, that I go to yoga class twice a week for three months... that's 61 lbs of carbon. Add Andrew and we double that number ***NB: I'm not sure WHY they state this...***

Also according to this source, a medium sized car emits approximately 1.1 lbs of carbon per passenger, per mile. For the same studio, same times that means 114lbs of carbon in three months only.

Think about what that means for a regular class of yoga and how much carbon just getting there that would represent. Per class. 

A solution?? A bicycle! My wonderful friends Kevin and Heather found me an amazing vintage bicycle that is PURPLE and in perfect condition. I love her (she's already named Veronica btw). All she needs is a basket and a lock, and say goodbye to driving to yoga class. 
Don't get me wrong, the thought of driving in this non-bicycle friendly city scares the poo out of me. I have decided, though, that at the many scary intersections we will simply get off our bikes and walk through on the cross walks.

Wouldn't it be amazing if yoga studios offered incentives for those students who chose alternate, greener, means of transportation to enjoy the yoga they offer? Here are some clever options to assure that the services enjoyed at your studio aren't helping the destruction of our already beleaguered air supply:

1. Have bicycle racks in front of your studio! Such a simple solution and I'm sure there would be cheap or used options available from the city. You never know, HRM may have some old or used options that they would sell for cheap.

2. Allow students to bring their bicycles inside the studio if you don't have a bike rack. Make this policy extremely public- send emails and have easily visible posters. I'm not going to ride my bike all the way to the studio and *hope* it will be alright.

3. Offer discounts for those yogis who arrive via green transportation. You could even have a sliding scale- a certain percentage for public transit and higher for bicycle or walking. Since we're all tight for money, the discount could be to encourage yogis to go above and beyond carpooling. It's time we did more.

4. Another option, give out punch cards (or keep track on your computer system) for green transportation- after so many the student gets a free class or a discount.

5. Be PROACTIVE with spreading the word. Have posters, talk to your students about this, many students may not necessarily peruse your website or read your newsletter.

6. Yoga for cyclists and yoga for walkers-runners classes... with the prerequisite that students arrive to class via that mode of transportation.

Although there are challenges, our Yoga practice can help us connect with our planet and our community. (don't I look dorky with my biking helmet?? hehe)
Blessings and Happy Weekend!
article and photographs copyright of EcoYogini at


  1. I swear, Lisa, 80% of the time, you and I are musing on the same topics at the same time! I've been simmering a post about biking for a while now, but am waiting until I go for one more ride.

    I'm in total agreement about the scared to death aspect of biking in heavy traffic. We don't even have really heavy traffic here, but people just don't understand the biking / driving rules. It can definitely be dangerous. But as you said, I've been walking my bike across intersections - even small ones. I'm too scared to merge into left turn lanes!

    I totally love Veronica. She's a beaut. I have an old bike I bought from Walmart about 10 years ago and it's still going strong. I love it to death.

    And you look adorable in the helmet. You should see mine. Everyone says I look like a goomba (from Mario Brothers)!

  2. yay for bicycles! i also recommend getting a couple little flashing LED lights and a bell help to avoid run-ins w/ cars and pedestrians. i was scared to bike in the city at first, but you just have to be in constant awareness of the cars around you, use hand signals etc, to let them know what you are doing and that you have just as much of a right to be on the road.

  3. I recently blogged about bike helmets and the guilt-inducing event that lead me to write about them. I'm on the hunt for a cool helmet this weekend.

    How can you go wrong with PURPLE!? Sweet!

    I like your ideas about offering green incentives, especially the punch card idea. It seems there are more and more people on bikes here, and it always helps!

  4. I love bicycles, particularly that vintage purple ride you've got there, very cute, but regarding the emissions numbers...

    How is it that the emissions of a small car (or any car?) double with each passenger? Doesn't make sense to me. Explain?

    I went to, where you got your numbers, but there's no further explanation there either.

  5. I struggle with this a lot. Things like yogaglo and developing an eco-friendly home practice help. But on Mondays, I drive 15 miles home from work to eat dinner and let the dogs out, then approximately another 30 miles round trip to and from my yoga class. It's tough to justify.

  6. Awe, congrats on your new bike! It's lovely. :) I think I'm going to take the plunge and trade in my parking pass for a bus pass. (Work reimburses me for the parking pass, but I convinced my director that a bus pass would be cheaper for the company, healthier, greener.) Plus, I normally walk/bike to work in the summer anyway, so it's a waste of money for them to be paying for a parking pass when I don't use it. (It's hard letting go of my free parking pass, but I think I can do it!) Last summer they had a walking challenge, people wore a pedometer, our group "walked to the olympics". So I ended up walking a lot instead of biking. I'll probably do a bit more biking this summer though. Can't wait for the warm weather to come!! Have fun on your new (to you) bike!

  7. What a lovely bike! I just got my vintage Schwinn, Beatrice, back from the shop today and had a great ride home from yoga class :)

    One thing you might think about to help you feel more comfortable is to purchase a couple of lights (one white, one red) for your bike so that folks in cars can see you. Knowing there is a red flashing light on the back of your bike is a huge reassurance for you and MV drivers!

    Good luck, and happy riding!

  8. Yes, Lisa, you do look dorky in your bike helmet...just as I look dorky in my bike helmet (which I just took off, along with my yoga mat bag, having just biked home from an almost-three hour inversion workshop...major buzz...and dinner with friends)...but, then, I looked a whole lot worse than dorky the time I scraped most of the skin off my forehead in an accident (and, had my left hand not quite literally broken my fall, I'd probably be rocking the post-traumatic-injury-being-fed-strained-peas-in-the-nursing-home look)...and that time, at the very end of my pre-helmet days, I was biking to work. The lesson of this story, of course, is: take good care of both the earth and your noggin...(and, as such, part of green alternatives to driving is political: getting your elected officials to create bike lanes, bike paths, etc. so you don't have to choose between planetary and bodily health).

  9. busses on the half hour at night are really not that bad...pretty common here in portland...congrats on getting the bike, you will love it...once i got my lights and my basket attached, i was good to go! get some reflective tape to put on your jacket as well - helps a lot and is way cheaper than neon nerdy bikewear :)

    and courage to bike in a non-bike town is essential - once you are seen, then others are not as afraid to try it...start the trend!

    also thanks for mentioning yoga for of the studios here has it and it's genius, because as a bike commuter, you realize soon that you can no longer touch your toes if you aren't doing yoga moves as it tightens up all those muscles.

    great post!

  10. ps get a light that attaches to your bike helmet too, not just to your bike, and do both in blinky mode.

    and btw i LOVVVVVE my recycled rubber yoga mat (plus it's black so goes well for a new wave 80s girl like myself)

  11. Sweet bike! Purple... reminds me of my first bike many moons ago. Banana seat, kickstand, pedal brakes, and, yes, even purple-ier than Veronica.

    I agree that bike helmets are dorky. Calvin (of Calvin & Hobbes) used to mock his dad for wearing such a thing on his head. They've got to invent cooler ones. But apparently in Holland and other bike-friendly Euro cities, folks cycle sans helmets and in normal clothes (no Lance Armstrong getups) and there are fewer accidents--because different modes of transport coexist, unlike in North America where cars dominate.


    PS I just moved (hence my silence in March) and I have a few eco questions about household cleaners, garbage disposers, etc, that I might pose to you!

  12. yes, this is exactly what I have been thinking...but also as you said it frightens me to go by bicycle in Rome...

    However I will do so!

    Power to the future towns with more bicycles!

  13. Hurrah for the bicycle. I am so lucky to live in Cambridge where the bike is king!

    I am totally going to think about all these points when I open my yoga studio (which will happen, oh yes!)


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