Eco-Yoga - Tips for a more sustainable yoga or pilates practice

The origins and traditions of Yoga come from ancient times, when humans lived in harmony with Mother Nature and the cycle of seasons. In fact, the first observation of the foundational teachings of yoga is known as Ahimsa, which translates to ‘do no harm.’ 

This value of non-harming is what makes yoga so deeply grounded in the practice of kindness and compassion, not just to ourselves and others, but also to mother earth and the environment in which we live. Much like our Fressko philosophy to be kind to Mother Earth, to others and yourself. Yoga is a wonderful practice that nourishes body, mind and also helps many people feel more connected to the environment and aware of their impact to the Earth. 

However, the popularity of modern yoga and rise in consumerism surrounding it has created unforeseen harm to our planet, which goes against these core yogic beliefs.

Imagine your daily yoga practice; you put on your new yoga tights, grab a bottle of water from the studio, roll out your mat and enjoy class in a heated studio. Most yogis don’t want to harm the earth, however unbeknownst to many, the rituals of modern-day yoga may be contributing to a negative ripple effect. 

When you consider the impacts of a fast fashion society, energy expenditure, single use plastic and PVC yoga mats, you can begin to see how the $90billion yoga industry can have negative ramifications for the environment.  

Here are some ways to make your yoga practice more environmentally conscious and reduce your footprint on the earth. 

Yoga apparel

Statistic show that the fashion and textile industry is one of the leading polluters in the world, and the creation of active wear and yoga apparel make up a substantial portion of this. According to the United Nation Climate Change news, the fashion industry contributed to a whopping 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. This can also be attributed to its long supply chains and energy intensive production methods. Statistics show that Up to 95% of the textiles that are land filled each year could be recycled, so think twice about throwing out your gear. If you are nifty with a needle and thread you can mend or repurpose clothes (perhaps make lavender filled eye pillows from old fabric) or do a clothing swap with a group of friends. 

 The best way to reduce your impact (unless naked yoga is your thing) is to be mindful of where you are shopping. Do your research on the brands that you purchase from and always choose quality over quantity, so that you get more years out of your active wear, to prevent it ending up in landfill. 

Material choice plays a big role in the sustainability of workout clothes. Choosing hemp, bamboo or organic cotton will reduce the microfibres of polyester, Lycra, nylon, and spandex that end up in our water ways. You can also find apparel that is made from recycled plastic bottles, to reduce the need for new fibre manufacturing. Shopping local or choosing a brand that is climate neutral will reduce the carbon footprint, by either shortening the supply and logistics chain or ensuring that the delivery emissions are being offset. 

Yoga mats

Yoga mats are designed to last, to be durable and absorb all the effort you exert each practice. However, when we upgrade or have worn through the mat, it inevitably ends up in landfill and can take hundreds of years to break down. That’s right. Hundreds of years. PVC or polyvinyl chloride is a common material used for most yoga mats, which is a problem because manufacturing PVC requires a heavy production process that is highly reliant on the use of fossil fuel.  The options for reuse or recycle are limited as well, which means that most PVC products end up contributing to the overwhelming problem of plastic waste in our oceans, or in landfill. To create a sustainable practice, you can consider more eco-friendly materials such as cork or natural rubber. Cork can be harvested from the cork oak tree without harming or damaging the tree at all. They are a great choice for the environment because as cork bark grows back on the tree it actually absorbs three times more carbon dioxide. Ensure that the cork mat you chose is 100% natural, fully biodegradable, and sustainably sourced. Natural rubber yoga mats are made from the sap of rubber trees which is hand tapped by making a small incision in the bark then collected. Just like with cork, the tree doesn’t have to be cut down to produce the materials and the sap collection cycle may be continued each year for up to 30 years. When done sustainably, this harvesting method is cultivated as part of the tree’s natural growth and healing process which makes it a highly sustainable, renewable resource and a great way of producing environmentally friendly rubber. 

Hot Yoga

Yoga originated in India, where the temperature is often warm or humid – As yoga grew in popularity in the West so did the desire to recreate the hot atmosphere hence the popularity in other climates for heated studios. However, heating studios requires a lot of energy which has an environmental impact from the increased use of fossil fuel, hydroelectric, or nuclear power. If you can, opt for a studio that is room temperature (which might mean wearing extra layers in winter or shorts in the summer) otherwise if you really can’t live without your hot yoga sweat sesh, then talk to your studio and find out if they support renewable energy or find a studio that has a carbon offset program in place. 

Single use plastic water bottles

8 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean every year and 40,000 pieces of plastic are estimated to float in every square kilometre of ocean. As yogis, to reduce our footprint on the earth, how we consume plastics associated with our practice becomes important. 75% of rubbish removed from our beaches is made of plastic - imagine doing your sun salutation on the beach at sunrise only to realise that you are surrounded by waste! The most effective way to remove single use plastic from your yoga practice is to invest in a reusable water bottle, instead of buying a new bottle each time. If you usually purchase one plastic bottle per day for your water, then you are saving more than 300 plastic bottles from ending up in our oceans every year! 


Image Credit: @zonedbyLydia

Guest Post written by Jade Hunter. 

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