Eco-friendly yoga is really important to us at Bagmaya. Although yoga’s roots are ancient, it’s become increasingly commercialised in recent years. The meditative practice of yoga now comes with all manner of environmentally unfriendly accoutrements: PVC mats and foam blocks, mass-produced athleisure, and merchandise emblazoned with the word “Namaste”. There’s simply no denying it; yoga is a billion-dollar industry.
Sadly, this is bad news for our planet. Yoga equipment made from harmful plastics takes centuries to decompose, polluting ecosystems. Too often, fast fashion workout apparel is unethically sourced and environmentally unsound. And, as Nadia Gilani sets out in The Yoga Manifesto, the commercialisation of yoga is detrimental not just to the environment but also to people—especially underprivileged communities.
So, what’s the answer?
Happily, you can create an eco-friendly yoga practice. In fact, there are plenty of green, ethical products available from alternative retailers. By practising yoga sustainably, you can use it as a positive force to connect with nature, promote ethical and environmental issues, and reduce your carbon footprint.
Below, you will find our favourite green essentials for your eco-friendly yoga practice.
1. Use mats, blocks and bolsters made from eco-conscious materials
When choosing your yoga mat or block, remember that these products are not all created equal. Conventional mats and yoga bricks are usually made from non-biodegradable plastics that damage our environment.
To reduce your ecological impact, invest in greener yoga equipment. For example, you could buy a mat or block made from natural substances like rubber, cork, or jute. These items will not only biodegrade but also will provide excellent traction for a dynamic yoga practice. Or, if you favour a slippier mat, don’t forget the option of the simple cotton cloth, as enjoyed by devotees of Ashtanga yoga the world over.
In short, there are plenty of alternatives to a harmful PVC mat or foam yoga brick.
Next, bolsters. If you are looking to support a softer yoga practice, such as Yin, search for products made from recycled materials, ideally covered in organic, eco-friendly fabric (we love Yogamatters’ restorative bolster here). Weighted eye pillows in organic cotton or hemp are also available, rounding out the perfect restorative yoga practice.
With eco-friendly yoga equipment, you can flow guilt-free and sink into a blissful, sustainable “Savasana”!
2. Repurpose household items to use as eco-friendly yoga props
Rather than buying new yoga equipment, we would urge you to use items from your home wherever possible. Many popular yoga props can actually be improvised by upcycling household items. Repurposing and reusing what you already own is great for the circular economy. In fact, it’s a key element in building a more sustainable future, as upcycling minimises waste and encourages resourcefulness. And did we mention that it’s fun?
So, rather than buying a yoga block, simply use a stack of books. Light scarves and belts make excellent yoga straps. Old seat pads or floor cushions work really well for bolsters. And most of us already have a blanket at home to use for yoga. Finally, if you’ve outgrown an old yoga mat, please don’t throw it out. Instead, check out some of the upcycling ideas here.
As a final note: cleaning products. To keep your yoga equipment safe and healthy, you can make your own eco-friendly cleaning spray from simple household ingredients (vinegar, baking soda) plus a little essential oil. You don’t need to buy a specialised mat spray.
By reusing items and upcycling wherever possible, you can align your sustainable values with your yoga practice. Isn’t that what yoga is all about?
3. When it comes to accessories, keep it simple (and sustainable)
Yoga is a simple practice. That’s part of what makes it so accessible and powerful. It doesn’t really need many frills. While it might sound cliche, you only need the ground beneath your feet (and perhaps a mat).
When you do want to invest in pieces for to enhance your yoga practice and lifestyle, think about choosing brands that prioritise sustainability and eco-conscious commercial practices.
And, if you’re going to invest in one yoga accessory, we’d recommend considering a yoga bag. After all, if you practice at a studio or enjoy doing yoga in the park, it’s cumbersome getting your mat from A to B without having something to put it in. Naturally, we love the Bagmaya Pushkar yoga mat bag, which is currently reduced in our summer sale to just £14.95! But, any yoga mat bag made from eco-friendly fabrics and manufactured using fairtrade practices would tick the box for us. Artisanal online marketplace Etsy has some fantastic eco-friendly yoga backpacks, for example.
Another item you might want to purchase (if you do not own one already) is a water bottle. As you might know, single-use plastic water bottles have a devastating impact on the environment. So, to reduce plastic waste, opt for a reusable water bottle made from stainless steel or BPA-free materials.
4. Make a yoga pledge to be a more mindful consumer
In yoga, there’s a notion called “Sankalpa”. It means making a wish or a commitment to doing something good. Many yogis dedicate their practice to causes and values they care about, carrying yoga beyond the mat into their broader lives.
So, leaving the fancy leggings to one side, you might want to consider your wider consumption habits. When it comes to diet, many yogis embrace a plant-based diet. If full veganism is not for you, you can always incorporate more plant-based meals into your routine. Vegetarianism has long been associated with yoga due to the central belief in “ahimsa” (non-harming). And, plant-based diets have been shown to have a lower carbon footprint and contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
But, diet isn’t everything. We don’t just consume food.
So, you can embrace more mindful consumption habits by purchasing products with minimal packaging and by avoiding single-use plastics. Supporting local, independent, fairtrade or sustainable brands is another way to reduce your impact on the environment.
5. Let yoga be a way to connect with the natural world
Environmentally-conscious people appreciate our planet for its fundamental role in giving us food and shelter. But, we also love Earth’s beauty. At Bagmaya, we feel it’s important to take time to marvel at the wonders all around us, inspiring a greater love and respect for nature.
Eco-friendly yoga involves aligning your practice with sustainability, certainly, but also with the natural world. So, wherever possible, consider practising yoga outdoors.
In winter, aim for a well-lit room with plenty of natural light and ventilation. While there’s no replacement for practising yoga with other people and learning from an experienced teach, you can access a wealth of guided practices online if so desired. And, digital yoga classes save on transportation emissions too.
If you have the opportunity to attend a yoga retreat, we recommend seeking out reputable providers that prioritise sustainability and conservation. Look for retreat centers that use renewable energy, practice water conservation, and support local communities. An eco-conscious retreat will likely provide a more meaningful experience, connecting you with like-minded individuals who share your values.
Sharing eco-friendly yoga will inspire the people around you
While yoga aims to cultivate awareness, many aspects of the industry are not socially conscious or eco-conscious. But, by adopting our green tips, you can create a more sustainable and earth-friendly yoga practice. After all, as with your yoga practice, when it comes to sustainability even small changes count.
Eco-friendly yoga is a conscious choice to align your values with the well-being of the planet. Together, we really can make a positive impact on the environment while deepening our connection with yoga and nature.
So, please share your eco-friendly yoga journey with others. By clicking below, you can send this article to your friends, family, and yoga community.