Friday, November 15, 2013

Yoga Raves and their Environmental Impact

If you haven't heard about Yoga Raves or Glow Stick Yoga, give it a few months. Yoga Raves or some variation of this theme are becoming increasingly popular across North America. If you're asking yourself, "Wtf? Yoga RAVES?" you are not alone.

Despite my initial cynical dismissal of such New Age ridiculousness, I have to applaud the organization for offering a fun, youthful alternative. The description from
"Yoga Rave was born as a healthy & balanced yet fun alternative. While singing & dancing along to mantras, one feels true energy, joy & enthusiasm that come from within, not as a result of something external. To achieve this experience it’s necessary to be in an environment free of drugs, alcohol & smoke"

I have no idea what ticket prices are, and parts of the description smacks of yoga elitism (drinking special "energizing" drinks), but hey- it's an interesting social alternative to smoke filled dancing

Glow Stick Yoga is another facet of this "Yoga Rave" movement where studios host these special classes, provide glow sticks and glow bracelets-necklaces so you can practice yoga in the dark at the studio to upbeat music.

This is where the eco-yogini in me kicks in.

The environmental impact of the energy required for the music, lights and sound system along with the negative impacts of glowing accessories, I find problematic. Because the energy required is pretty self explanatory (and solutions would include having carbon offsets or clean energy sources), let's focus on the Glow Stick Problem.

(I'm not gonna lie, that looks like fun, but is all the waste worth it???)

What is the problem with Glow Sticks?
1. Firstly, they are single use lights contained in plastic that would not be recyclable due to the chemicals inside that make the stick glow. So your yoga practice or yoga rave just contributed dozens (or hundreds, or thousands, depending on the size) of more chemical filled plastics that will slowly degrade and pollute into our landfills, waterways and environment with mini plastic bits (or nurdles).

2. These plastic chemical eco-bombs take energy and create pollution to be created AND shipped across the country (and oceans if made abroad).

3. The chemicals inside the glow sticks are two chemicals that react in order to create the "glow": hydrogen peroxide and phenyl oxalate ester along with dyes for the colour (wiki). Mixing them together causes other chemicals to be formed: phenol and a chemical that quickly decomposes to carbon dioxide. These chemicals can cause skin irritation and vomiting if ingested or touched

4. Eventually, these chemicals will leach out of the plastics into our soil, waterways and thusly into our drinking water, or may be burned and pollute the air. In small quantities they are fine, but in large quantities (say the millions that are used each year) it's kinda a big deal.

Further references: Greater Toronto Area Green Tips, The Star Article, Groovy Green Living 2010,  Wisegeek What Are Glow Sticks?
What is even more disappointing is my quick google search for "Yoga Rave" revealed a Yoga Rave event through the Canadian Cancer Society... An event to raise awareness and funds for Cancer research will be promoting the use of accessories that will contribute to the pollution (plastics, chemicals) of our planet which has been linked to exacerbate certain cancers and cause other health problems in our population.

As cool as it may seem, I find the combination of such an obviously polluting and non-healthy object with a yoga practice pretty disgusting and counterproductive to the tenets of yoga itself.


  1. To me yoga is also about stripping away the excess; practicing something that requires virtually no equipment. While I love alternative activities that foster positivity and healthfulness, I wish organizers would follow closer to a less-is-more type approach, rather than unnecessarily over complicating it. I'll bet it's fun though. :)

  2. I almost wish they would remove the word yoga from it. Like the previous comment, I see yoga as something focusing on simplicity and stripping away of all the other stuff. This feels like chaos. And I've always wondered about using upbeat music in yoga as my practice is about trying to slow down. If I want fast music I'll go to Zumba (which is awesome by the way). :)

  3. Thanks for this publish. I find it hard to track down good answers out there when it comes to this subject matter. Thanks for the review!


I love hearing from you! So I don't miss a comment, I like "pre-approving" them :)
I ask only that we stay respectful.
Also, please note that this is a personal blog and not a space for advertising your company. I reserve the right to delete "advertising" comments.

**NB: The ANONYMOUS option is the BEST way to comment if you don't have a blogger or established google/gmail account.