Your Ethical Yoga Practice for Inspired Living

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Our Earth is dying right before our very eyes.

The stark reality of our world today is that toxic pollution impacts our lives dramatically, according to Pure Earth, a non-profit environmental organization. Water, land and air pollution reach new levels each and every year with no real sustainable solution in place. In some of the world’s worst polluted places, babies are born with birth defects, children have lost 30 to 40 IQ points, and life expectancy may be as low as 45 years because of cancers and other diseases caused by pollution.

The powerful news, though, is best available numbers currently put our global yoga community at just over 300 million or about 3% of the total world population.  In the United States alone, the estimate is ~36 million yogis. Given its global size, our community has the ability to change our planet’s outlook simply by making smarter choices when it comes to the consumer goods and services we buy. 

Are you a sustainable yogi consumer? 

The annual worldwide value of today’s yoga market is in the billions.  That’s a lot of yoga mats!  What is the value set and the lens through which you’re searching in the marketplace for your yoga related products? Are your choices in yoga products reflecting the yogic lifestyle you are aspiring to? How do you know what to search for? How do you dispose of your yoga products when you no longer need or what them? 

Perplexed, how about a little yogi guidance?

The set of ethical principles that comprise the first and second of the eight limbs of yoga are the Yamas and Niyamas. These are the foundations of yoga. The Yamas and Niyamas are yoga’s ethical guidelines laid out in the first two limbs of Patanjali’s eightfold path. Simply put, the Yamas are things not to do, or restraints, while the Niyamas are things to do, or observances. Together, they form a moral code of conduct. When you apply this moral code to the choices you make, it becomes “right behavior” or an ethical way of living in the world. I view this right action with how you’re aligning your choices with your values. It’s a tangible way to practice living your yoga and being a change agent in the world. If all of us committed to practice these healthy observances by the choices we make in products, goods and services the world would be a better place. Each of us can make a difference. 

That being said, remember that we vote with our wallets every day. As a global yoga community, we have the power to create and influence change by carefully selecting where we spend our hard-earned money.

As yogis, we can affect change by consciously choosing brands and products that are eco-friendly and help protect – as opposed to further harming – our planet. Using this as your guide, chose yoga products that use ethical manufacturing and sustainable materials to produce and package their products. There are a number of companies that follow this eco-friendly ethos from which you can purchase sustainable products that do not sacrifice performance.  You’re just a google search away from companies that manufacture their products from sustainable materials.  From Yoga pants made from recycled plastics to wood pulp. Yoga mats from recycled wet suits to mats made from 100% reclaimed plastic from our ocean waters. 

However, this is where it gets a bit tricky.  Currently, there are hundreds of green product certification labels in the U.S. alone that have been branded on everything under the sun. Even more perplexing is the fact that many of these eco labels are stamped with a who is who in the zoo: fish, frogs, rabbits and so on. Sure, each of the eco labels profess to protect our Earth and its resources along with safeguarding all in habitants, but where do you begin? Which critter do you choose?

Well, that all depends. The labels and their meanings keep changing with new ones being added all the time. So, if you want to go down the label path, by all means do. However, my yogi advice for purchasing yoga products is straight forward:

  1. Check where a product is made and remember that local is best.
  2. Consider what the product is made from and are the materials reusable. Will this product end up in a landfill when I’m though with it?
  3. Buy higher quality, longer lasting products. 
  4. Ask yourself if you really need the product and how long you will keep it.
  5. Consider if a product is pre- or post-recycled.  Pre-recycled is scrap that is generated during the normal manufacturing process that is recycled back into its raw material state.  Post-recycled is an item that was used after production of the product, and then re-cycled such as plastic water bottles or wet suits into yoga mats.

Conscious choices we all make every day can directly contribute to restoring the Earth’s natural balance. By choosing environmentally friendly yoga products, you can do your part to support a healthier planet.  Make a commitment to conscious choices for all your products and services – yoga or otherwise.

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