Updated: Mar 3, 2020
The practice of yoga has been significantly popularized in the western world in the past few decades. Asana (physical expressions, or poses), meditation, awareness, and breath control are just some of the concepts that are shared in yoga classes. When I first began my practice over 12 years ago, many parts of yoga philosophy resonated with me and changed my life for the better.
Personally, I align with many of the concepts shared during yoga practice – the belief that our consciousness is separate from our ego, that awareness without thoughts is the true essence of the soul, and that love, kindness, and altruism go hand in hand with human nature. However, one concept specifically guides the way I live my life: the belief that we are all connected.
While everyone’s practice is distinctly their own, it only makes sense that this mantra of interconnectedness should be extended to the natural world. Animals, plants, and the environment are not excluded from this philosophy. By including the planet that has taken care of us in our journey, we can delve further into our practice and elevate to another level.
I want to use this article specifically to highlight ways every yogi can be a little more intentional and altruistic to Mother Earth throughout your yoga practice.
1. Reusable Water Bottles
Part of being prepared for your yoga class is bringing your own water so you don't have to use single use plastic water bottles and pollute the planet. 80% of water bottles end up in landfill, and take nearly 1,000 years to degrade into tiny microplastics. You can use any reusable bottle, but I use Valka Yoga's Copper Water Bottle because of the added health benefits of pure copper that I learned about through Ayurveda. Drinking water naturally alkalizes your water, resulting in health benefits like improved skin, slowed aging, and antioxidant properties for our immune systems. It helps to eliminate free radicals, which cause cancer, as well as boost brain power. Copper has even been shown to kill water-borne diseases - read the science here. It's my new international travel bottle for this reason!
2. Yoga Towels
During hot yoga, you usually need a yoga towel over the mat to prevent from slipping. You also need a yoga towel to wipe sweat throughout the class. There's no need in creating trash during this process or buy more yoga products. Set aside one towel for your face and wash it after each class, that way you don't have to use single use paper towels. To avoid buying a yoga towel for your mat, consider cork yoga mats that are naturally non-slip.
3. Cork Yoga Mats
Durable. Healthier. Sustainable.
Basic synthetic yoga mats are made entirely of plastic, including PVC's and other harmful chemicals used in plastic products. Investing in a high quality cork mat is much better for your practice and the planet in the long-term. First, synthetic yoga mats thin out quickly so you have to replace them, but cork ones don't.
But the main reasons I love my cork yoga mats from Valka Yoga is because cork is one of the most sustainable materials on Earth. It's naturally antimicrobial, so it's healthier for us. Purchasing a cork yoga mat protects biodiversity because no trees are harmed - cork is stripped from the tree as bark and regrows. Valka Yoga goes above and beyond and even plants a tree for every mat sold even though their business doesn't kill trees. They are combating deforestation that they aren't even participating in.
Their mats include other materials besides cork, like rubber, so the entire mat is made of natural materials. Even more, these amazing designs are laid into the cork using plant derived inks. You can get them on Amazon.
Whether you are at the beginning of your yoga practice, or been practicing for years, it's never too late to make small changes like these for the planet. By being more intentional in your choices for your yoga journey, you can help change markets and industries that are harming the planet and ultimately, us.