Heated and Hot Yoga remain trendy in our yoga-verse with hundreds of yogis sweating it out every day. The spread of heated yoga classes to non-hot specific studios is purely a reflection of demand- by paying for your 75-90 minutes of getting your sweat on, you're directly participating in a carbon heavy industry.
As climate change is a real phenomena that is impacted by greenhouse gas emissions (caused by carbon emissions from a variety of sources, one being coal powered heating), practicing hot or heated yoga directly supports an increase in carbon emissions. It's kinda like driving a Hummer... or choosing only energy INefficient appliances... or littering. It's terrible to say, but let's 'fess up here- choosing hot and heated yoga is choosing a carbon emitting, polluting yoga practice.
Of course, there are levels of energy usage for your heated practice.
Rooms are heated to 105 F... for all classes. Think about that- these rooms are kept heated at 105 F for hours on end during summer AND winter seasons. Unfortunately there isn't any information online on how the studio is insulated and what type of heating is used. From pictures you can see there are windows... and I would hope they were extremely well insulated and sealed as most of our heat is lost there. At 3 classes a day you already have a studio being kept at 105 F for over four hours, minimum.
Bikram yoga studios also expend quite a bit of water energy on showers, laundry and cleaning all that sweat. Imagine a studio having 20 yogis per class, 3 classes a day. Most of these yogis will either shower in studio or at home. That's 60 extra showers a day. That's 15-30 litres per minute per shower (Ecoholic Home, 2009). If each person took a 10 minute shower, that's 9,000-18,000 litres of water.
Rooms are heated between 90 and 100 degrees. At the Halifax studio there are on average 10 classes a day. That's over 10 hours of keeping those rooms heated. Unfortunately, heat escapes. It's unavoidable and extremely obvious if you ever walk by the studio (the windows in the front lobby are constantly fogged up).
Similarly to Bikram, water usage (and waste) has a significant potential for impact. Let's say for 10 classes (assuming that daytime classes will run 5-7 people and evening classes upwards 10-15) you have, conservatively about 90 people a day. That's 13,500 to 27,000 extra litres of water a day. What is different is that Moksha uses energy star rated laundry appliances, in floor heating that decreases it's energy use by a potential of 40% and uses natural cork flooring and low VOC paints.
That said, 40% less energy leaves 60% extra energy just to heat a room for yoga.
These are the "heated" classes you see around town. Generally heated using portable floor heaters, these classes are arguably just as wasteful as full out hot yoga. I know for a fact that certain studios "pre-heat" their class rooms up to an hour before class starts, turning on these energy sucking heaters for an EMPTY studio. Several heaters are needed for one classroom, I generally see at least 3-4 per class.
Further, these classes are in studio spaces that are not specifically made to keep the heat in. Windows and classroom doors with rolled up towels underneath do a poor job of insulating. On top of that, they also usually have showers and the water usage that goes with it.
Yogis talk the talk about going vegan/vegetarian, buying an eco friendly mat or biking to class to decrease their carbon footprint, but honestly it all seems a bit hypocritical if you step into a hot yoga class.
- Instead, support local studios who don't heat their classes.
- Ask for more "non" heated classes in the schedule.
- Explain your choice to either
- a) not frequent their studio or
- b) not frequent their "heated" classes by voicing your concern to studio owners about the environmental impact their heated yoga is having on our planet.
- Practice the original "Hot" yoga: outside in the sun during a local Yoga in the Park.