Part 1: Sustainable Yoga Outfits
Yoga on Instagram is dominated by slim, white women’s bodies and a handful of brands that sponsor them. And like fashion bloggers, these Insta yogis seem to have an endless supply of new sets of matching leggings and tops. Both the large amount of funding behind these accounts and their volume of clothing are unsustainable and directly opposed to one of the main yogic goals: ahimsa.
Ahimsa is one of five tenets of the Yoga Sutra and it is broadly defined as “do no harm.” Meaning do no harm to others or to yourself, and in modern teachings this also means not harming the environment we live in. One way for regular yoga practitioners to practice ahimsa, aside from tackling the troubling issue of corporate yoga sponsorship on the ‘gram, is to be mindful of the amount of yoga “stuff” one acquires for their practice.
At the bare minimum one only needs a body – literally any kind of body – and a bit of floor space to practice yoga. But according to Instagram Yoga, one needs: matching leggings and tops, at least one mat, a couple of blocks, a yoga strap, a yoga wheel, a yoga bolster, a house or flat where one can install an aerial yoga sling, an expensive bench to help with inversions, the space to store all this gear, and a well-lit area in which to photograph yourself using all of this… stuff. And as Instagram Yoga becomes more like Instagram Fashion, things like colour and pattern trends quickly make all your gear look out-dated.
So, aside from choosing not to participate in the consumer gadget side of Insta Yoga, what can you do to keep your yoga practice both stylish and sustainable? Simple! Practice mindfulness and buy your yoga gear with care.
If you’re not already on the wonderful second-hand clothing app called Depop, get on it. Right now. And here is a secret: those Insta yogis who are gifted outfits are also on Depop and often sell their gently used yoga clothes! Over the summer one of my personal favourite Insta yogis did a yoga closet clear-out and donated the profits to a children’s charity. It is entirely possible to build up a decent and sustainable yoga wardrobe from second-hand items (as I have done myself).
Should you have the money and inclination to buy new items there are yoga brands who do practice ahimsa, alongside their capitalism, to create sustainable and ethical clothing:
- Dharma Bums is an Australian company committed to producing their clothes through an ethical and sustainable supply chain, are mindful of how they produce colours for their prints, and use materials such as recycled fabrics and bamboo.
- Yogacycled makes their yoga clothing out of recycled plastic bottles, the fabric is “84% RPET (Recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate) and 16% Spandex.” They use the same fabric dying process as Dharma Bums called sublimation which keeps harmful chemicals out of waterways.
If you do opt for buying new items, make sure to choose styles and colours that you’ll enjoy for a long time. Black, for example, is always classic and looks great on every body type. And if you do need to change sizes, or want to change styles, you can always sell them or donate them to ensure they live their full life!
True, it does not matter what you wear to practice yoga, and it doesn’t even matter what you wear if you want to participate in the Instagram yoga community. But if you do want your outfit to add a bit of power to your downward dog there is no need to sacrifice ahimsa to get it.