Yoga studios around the country are learning how to go green thanks to an initiative launched by Northern California's Green Yoga Association.
"Many yoga practitioners are concerned with the environment," said David Lurey, a Green Yoga board member and the program's coordinator. "We want them to make their intentions reality and become platforms for environmental outreach in their communities."
Green Yoga -- a consortium of yoga teachers formed in fall 2004 -- kicked off the yearlong pilot program in the fall with the goal to gather information about what environmental alternatives work for the yoga community. Each month, 23 participating studio owners from California to Ohio will get together on eco-themed conference calls to discuss issues like reducing toxins and minimizing the impact on forests.
Based on the meetings, Green Yoga (www.greenyoga.org) will compile a seven-page step-by-step guide to make start-up and existing yoga spaces environmentally friendlier. The handbook will include tips and resources for selling sustainable goods, offering PVC-free yoga mats, and printing on good-on-one-side paper. Lurey hopes to start distributing it to studios, yoga teachers and programs by fall 2006. He said he also hopes he can recruit more studios by this summer to broaden the program.
As for the pilot's initial progress, participants said they're already benefiting.
"Knowing I have other businesses to bounce ideas off of has been terrific," said Jena Regan, owner of San Francisco's Satori Yoga and a Green Studios participant. "We share products and experiences, but mostly, we're learning about how to make good choices and pass them on."
For example, Regan said she would like to install ambient heat and bamboo flooring in her Financial District space in San Francisco, but for now small steps, such as water bottled in biodegradable cornstarch-based plastic, will have to do. Those steps could encourage clients to demand greater eco-consciousness in their own workplaces, she said.Â Â
During the year, the Center for an American Dream, will measure a studio's success by calculating the environmental impact of efforts like recycling. In addition, Gaiam Real Goods, a planet-friendly manufacturer, will promote Green Yoga in its spring 2006 catalog.
"The yoga community is well aligned with our mission," said Mary Jo Cameron, Gaiam's communications director. "And Green Yoga is showing people ways to do something tangible to protect the sustainability of our planet." A solar expert from the company is also consulting with owners on conserving energy.
While Lurey said he's optimistic about the pilot program's success, he acknowledged that greening up studios poses unique challenges. For many, finding distributors has been a setback. (Regan, for example, would like to provide recycled paper cups to her clients, but can't find a local vendor to deliver them in bulk.) Plus, cost can be prohibitive for a small business since eco-friendly alternatives tend to be around 20 percent more expensive. But Lurey said the association is optimistic that increasing studios' demand for planet-conscious products will augment the yoga industry's purchasing power and influence manufacturers to offer goods at more reasonable prices.
"We need to put ourselves out there," he said. "The greatest need right now is for resources."
Studios involved in the pilot program are:
Greenpath Yoga, San Francisco
It's All Yoga, Sacramento
Pleasure Point Yoga, Santa Cruz
SOMA Yoga, Fremont
Satori Yoga Studio, San Francisco
Yoga Tree San Francisco (four locations), San Francisco
Yoganic, San Diego
Wild Mountain Yoga, Nevada City
World Yoga Healing Arts Center, Walnut Creek
Maya Yoga Maui, Maui
Yoga Hanalei, Kauai
Inhale Yoga, Marietta
It's Yoga Columbus, Columbus
Austin Yoga School, Austin
Breathe Studio, Fort Worth
River's Edge Yoga, Alexandria
Sanctuary Yoga, Menasha
Eco-Res Tulum Resort, Tulum