The Green Yoga Association

E Cover Green Yoga

Last summer, totally by chance, I met David Lurey, a traveling yoga teacher who preaches the values of being a green yogi. As a member of the Green Yoga Association, Lurey travels to studios around the world and consults teachers, students, and owners alike on how to make the yoga practice more environmentally friendly.

After Lurey left, I started working with a local yoga studio to help them green their practice and embarked on some research that eventually culminated in an article that appears in the Jan/Feb issue of E Magazine. Check out the article or have a look at the Green Yoga Association’s website if you want to know more about their philosophy – a sound one, I think.

One of the problems I’ve encountered, though, over the last few months of research and consultation is that, as with nearly everything else in the world, people are slapping the label “green” on yoga and not doing much to actually make it earth friendly. Or the steps some have been taking are baby steps … whatever works best without their having to change much of anything. Nothing infuriated me more at a recent “green yoga” conference than to listen to Nicki Doane and Eddie Modestini, who run an incredible sustainable studio on Maui, speak eloquently about the changes people can make to their everyday lives to be more sustainable while the conference organizers handed out plastic bottles of water – plastic that would, eventually, get burned according to local recycling rules (this is not an unusual thing so if this offends you, check with your local recycler to see if that’s what eventually becomes of your plastic bottles).

Instead of getting mad, though, I decided it’s time I help nudge this green yoga movement along by posting a few things to do to green your yoga practice that don’t involve buying anything. Though I devised this after talking to members of the GYA, it’s important to note that these are not their guidelines nor would they necessarily agree with me on all of this. I am a hard-core eco freak who does yoga not a hard core yogi who’s interested in all things eco and these guides reflect that preferential order.

1. Turn the heat down (off?) or air conditioning up. Seriously, you should sweat during yoga but not because the room you’re in is 105 degrees. Move your body if you’re cold.
2. Let in some fresh air instead of turning on a fan. Or better yet, practice outside – those poses are named after nature for a reason.
3. Bring your own water bottle … filled from your kitchen sink.
4. Ditch the petroleum-based candles.
5. Bike or walk to class. A good teacher is important, yes, but think about how much time and stress you safe by leaving the car in the driveway.
6. Practice Ahimsa (non-violence) at home by munching on leafy greens instead of meat.
7. Skip the celebrity-led trip to Thailand and retreat locally.
8. Stop buying the hype. And the new mat. And the new clothes. And the all-new-and-improved props and socks and CDs and books and everything else that’s marketed to yogis. It is, after all, a billion-dollar industry for a reason and those old-but-gently-used goods you’d ditch for the latest and greatest gotta go somewhere.