Sunday, September 19, 2010

ToeSox the Superfluousness of Yoga Accessories

(info-merical voice): Do you slip in your practice? Do you wish you could just *stay* in your posture? Than why not try the ultimate yoga necessity... ToeSox.

Yoga has become such a commodity to sell, the challenge being convincing a cohort of individuals who practice a discipline that encourages non-attachment and internal validation instead of external consumerism, to be consumers. That in order to be a "better" yogi(ni) you *need* _______ (insert product here).

Of course it helps that these products be "eco-friendly", helping to soothe probable consumer-guilt. Cuz we all know that buying more "stuff" really is the problem that has brought us to a world filled with garbage and pollution. We know this, but sometimes companies are pretty good at convincing us that having something "extra" to help with our practice really isn't all that bad. Especially since they're made of organic cotton!

Nevermind that special socks for yoga are completely superfluous.

Let's consider the true ramifications of purchasing "extras" on the environment first.

Regardless of whether they are made from sustainable materials (Organic cotton), these socks aren't something that will last forever. How long do your regular socks last? My socks that I wear once a week will last about six months, and I'm really easy on my socks. Special yoga socks I'd have to wear three, four times a week where I would be putting higher amounts of pressure, sliding along and I can assume increased wear.

As a result, these "eco" socks will wear out earlier than regular socks. So I'll have to purchase new ones. In the course of my lifetime yoga practice that is hundreds of socks. Wow, *that* doesn't sound wasteful...

As consumers, we know these socks are completely wasteful and unnecessary. But sometimes we just get caught up in the marketing of it all. We need to remember to take a deep breath and step back.

From a necessary aspect to yoga practice, I find it a little silly. I understand being slippery during the practice. Usually this happens when we sweat a lot, our mats aren't very sticky and most importantly when we are pushing outwards when we should be pulling inwards.

Sweating a lot isn't something that will go away if you're like me and sweat a lot anyways (removing your sweat glands, although I considered it, isn't really ideal lol). Things like bringing a towel from home really do help with that and is free.

Investing in a non-pvc sticky mat, such as a rubber mat (Jade, Manduka and prAna make really nice eco-rubber mats) will also go a long way in decreasing sweat-caused slippage. As opposed to purchasing a few new ones each year, your mat should last years-plural and can be reused a million ways after it has met it's maker. (click here for some fantastic ideas by Jade).

I think the most essential bit of advice I've received about slippage has been about the *how* I do my asanas. Instead of constantly pushing outwards, muscling through the postures (no pain no gain type), I need to bring the energy inwards and up. This essentially means using more of my core energy, bringing muscle energy inwards (very Anusara, but it works).

Finally, yoga really isn't about achieving the most beautiful posture and the accessories that you can collect to get them. And well, I didn't really get into their ad campaign. I think we've already discussed all that...

What are your thoughts on the eco-aspect of yoga accessories?

article copyright of EcoYogini at 


  1. i think you've got it spot on. i never have understood all the special gizmos they try to sell - the business of zen? oy! i have a black (yay!) recycled rubber yoga mat that i like a lot (i hold off on saying 'love' because it's too thin for my tastes with this noggin of mine), and then just make sure i wear something that doesn't slide up to show the girls to everyone while i'm in down dog.

    but you know what? those socks are terribly cute. i love stripey socks. but i agree, not anything i'd end up buying.

  2. I have a yoga mat. That's it. Oh, and an old folding chair with the back taken off it. And when I'm outside, I use nothing extra. No mat. Nothing.

    I can imagine people have decent reasons for some accessories - I've thought about getting a nice bolster a few times. But most of the stuff just seems like indulgences to me. And not cheap ones at that.

  3. My mat is falling apart....

    I do spend quite a lot on yoga clothes - well they are not strictly yoga clothes. Some of them are running vests, some just cute wraparound cardies. But I do believe as a teacher I need to look as smart as any professional should at work.

    I also have a ton of blocks and bolsters and straps, but I teach a lot of pregnancy and restorative yoga so I feel these things are a necessary.

    On a side note I have a pair of socks that are still wearable that I have had since I was 15. Clearly British socks are the kings of socks....

  4. For Shadow yoga, we practice sans mats, on wooden floors. For certain things we use a blanket or a bolster. But most of the practice is bare feet to bare floors. And it rocks.

    I've learned a lot from Shadow Yoga about correct use of the bones instead of relying on the muscles. And believe me, if you can learn to release your body from the bones, then there's no slippage.

    Toe Sox are the most ridiculous bit of yoga clothing/props I've ever heard of!

  5. I'm a minimalist. I have a yoga mat that I've had for years. It's wearing in spots but I would feel guilty buying a new one until I could find a use for the old one. I only bought blocks after a couple of years of practice. Strap? Old belt from a bathrobe.

    But on the subject of socks - I have socks I've had for YEARS. Not that I'd buy those silly useless toe socks but just sayin', you must be a little tough on socks!

  6. haha, maybe i AM a bit hard on socks! I haven't had some for years... although I wear the same four-five pair of socks throughout the week. So on any given occasion, I own max, six pairs of socks...

    so maybe that's why they go through more quickly? :)

  7. I'm on the side of "if you need something, do your best to buy 2nd hand." I don't think I would buy 2nd hand socks though. Yuck.

    Re: other props: Throw-pillows I inherited from my Gramma are perfect for my restorative home practice. And I have even brought some of them to the studio where I teach.

    ps - I have 3 pair of tan SmartWool socks which will NOT wear out. They are homely. I wear them all the time trying to wear them out so I can buy some cute new ones but they are still going strong after 4 years.

  8. wow, guess i'm rough on socks.

    in any case, the point of the post was that I really feel uncomfortable with any advertisement or company telling me that my yoga practice "needs" something as silly as "specialized yoga socks" in order to be good. I find it wasteful. If your toes are cold, using socks you already have is great. But marketing a "special" sock just for slippage in yoga practice is superfluous.

    blocks and straps are a whole other realm. :) I use blocks in my practice, cork ones.

  9. Spot on.

    I think we're inundated with messages that tell us to consume, consume, consume. I know the trap all too well: I become interested in some new hobby and start researching. I learn about all the cool, nifty things I could use to assist in the hobby, or which just look good. Everyone else has these things! And, look, they come in different colours! Oh, and I'll need a bag for them all, and more equipment, and one more thing and then another! Etc, ad nauseam.

    Companies rely on that excitement for new things. You're right about needing to take a breath and step back. I do this all the time in regards to yoga clothes. Oh, how I want some fancy new pants from prana or wherever but I still have 4 pairs from Old Navy and can't justify buying new ones until they have worn past the point of usefulness.

    In regards to slippage, I read somewhere that one should imagine pulling in with the hands and feet during down-dog, and that was just the image I needed to really understand pulling into my core. It helps a LOT!

  10. I can't imagine not practicing in bare feet. I need that contact with the mat. I have one mat, two blocks and two straps, all of which I've had for at least 6 years and probably won't need to get new ones anytime soon. I don't know about the socks....can't imagine why people would need them, but I guess at least ONE person did - the creator! LOL. Who knows.

  11. Ok. I can't see the yoga ToeSox, personally.

    BUT. As an older yogini (age 50+) I can see purchasing whatever one needs to feel warm and safe. I do knit my own socks (of hand-dyed wool from small crafters I know personally) and wear the craziest of them to yoga class pulling them on prior to savasana, because my circulation isn't what it used to me.

    And they last for a long long time (especially if you know how to darn them). I've been knitting socks for 5 years and haven't tossed a pair of them yet...all of my cotton ones (and Walmart-type cheapies) have gone off to second-hand thrift shops long ago.
    So no, on the topic of whether you need every new product that comes along, of course not! And just because they say it's "green" is a lousy reason to shop for it. But don't discount socks and yoga completely!

  12. completely "superfluous." i too am so tired of the message that we "need" certain stuff (and more of it) to practice yoga. this is one of the many reasons i don't read yoga journal anymore.

    and i agree with a green spell -- i want to feel my feet in the most direct contact. not just for feeling of contact with the mat, but also, why do we continue to put stuff between our connection with the earth?

    decorating, cutting off, causing waste... all = superfluous!

    thanks for the post!

  13. Hey this looks very comfortable.I am sure it must be giving nice feeling to your feet.Yoga is innovative that's for sure.How about introducing these in yoga classes.

  14. I think there are two ways to practice any sport - the funky, dressed-up way, and the serious way.

    I'm no yoga practitioner (I came to this blog from the "eco" end of things) but as an ex elite sportswoman (rowing), it didn't take me long to learn there was functional stuff and the funky, expensive stuff you don't need.

    So we'd see heaps of wannabees, all decked out in the latest, who weren't really serious about the sport (we'd laugh at them, actually), but you could tell the serious sportswomen by their muscle tone and old, bashed up equipment that had seen real, heavy-duty usage.

    Same goes for yoga, I'd guess.

    On an interesting point, isn't yoga meant to me thousands of years old? Did they even HAVE rubber mats back then? So is even this *basic* accessory really necessary? Or maybe you could use tatami instead.

    Just a thought, from someone who knows nothing about yoga, but a fair bit about consumerist wannabees ;-)

  15. Hi!

    Was wondering what you meant by using a "sticky" mat. I tend to slide a bit on my mat as well, besides taking your advice to focus inward, is there also a sticky substance you could recommend to add resistance to my mat?


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