Yoga is, in essence, a green movement. Poses are named after animals, original yogis practiced outdoors, and then there's that whole idea of Ahimsa (non-harmfulness). Take a yoga teacher training, and you’ll find yourself saving worms from sewer drains – yes, this is from personal experience. With all of this emphasis on positively affecting the Earth, you’d think we’d have a better grasp on leaving the smallest carbon footprint possible with the biggest carbon emitter in the yoga-sphere: the yoga studio itself. Try these tips to make your studio greener:
1. Start with the build. Even if you are using sustainable products, ask questions about how they will affect air quality. For example, did you know floor sealants and cabinet epoxies release harmful vapors over time? Many leaders of the green movement advocate using real wood (reclaimed, of course), bamboo, or cork rather than synthetic materials to reduce the presence of harmful binding agents.
2. Clean with caution. Read the ingredients on your cleansing agents, and ask to do the same if you hire a cleaning staff. Use reusable mop heads, fabric cloths and other “paper-free” tools when it is time to scrub up the studio.
3. Consider fake plants. Okay, I know it sounds un-green to take the green out of a studio. But, over time, watering, caring for and replacing dead plants can actually leave a bigger footprint then buying one, consciously manufactured, fake plant. The air in a yoga studio, dancing between humidity from sweat and dryness from heaters or ventilation systems, can be unfriendly toward plant life. If you replace your plants more than once a year or water more than twice a week, you may be better off with fake plants.
4. Use low-energy lighting. Use area lamps or dimmable overhead lights when possible. Always turn off the lights when the studio is not in use, and consider leaving any outside lights on a timer rather than turning them on all night long.
5. Close your blinds. Yes, we know natural lighting is beautiful in an early morning or afternoon practice; if you’d like, open the blinds when class is in. However, closing blinds at other times can reduce your heating and cooling costs, and this means you are saving energy. Blinds keep rooms cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Don’t have any? Install blackout curtains that can be closed during off hours of the day.
6. Take the paper out of the studio! If you’re like most studios, you ask students to sign into class each day. Three to five classes a day, seven days a week, and you could be using as much as 160 pieces of paper just for this purpose each month. The Green Yogi, an eco-conscious studio in Manhattan Beach, California, designed a system using iPads that allows students to sign an electronic form. The form goes straight into the studio’s Mind Body Online software, eliminating the need for paper waivers and sign in sheets. Studio owner Mary Strong estimates the studio saves ten reams of paper (that’s 5,000 sheets!) a year just by incorporating this system. “We have created a domino effect of consciousness. Other businesses have come in the door and thought, ‘How much paper do we use?’ Already, lululemon has asked about our system. Yoga studios should be leaders in the green movement, and we are proud to usher eco-consciousness into the neighborhood.”
Your studio can also be a leader. Think about the waste in your studio daily, and incorporate methods to reduce it. This attention to details will impact your students and your community, giving it a much-needed dose of consideration, consciousness and that essential yogic concept of presence. Isn’t that why you opened your studio in the first place?