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Making Your Daily Yoga Sessions As Calming To The Environment As They Are To You!

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by Yashodhara Sirur

If the lockdown and work-from-home life has had one advantage, it has been the enthusiasm with which most of us have taken to exercise. Since the COVID-19 pandemic has also brought along heaps of stress, yoga is quite sought-after as a calming, soothing, stress-relieving form of exercise.

The beauty of yoga lies in its minimalism. Our ancestors practised yoga as a way of life, with nothing but a woven grass mat to do their asanas on. Today, however, we have yoga mats, fancy water bottles, special outfits and more. If we do have to invest in a few of these products, isn’t it imperative that we do so while causing minimal harm to the environment? After all, how can we seek mindfulness if we don’t let go of materialism?

Here are some tips we at Ethico have come up with to help you make your daily yoga sessions as calming to the environment as they are to you.

PVC yoga mats are non-biodegradable and non-recyclable. Image Source: Unsplash

1. Seek Out An Eco-Friendly Yoga Mat

Most yoga mats are made out of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) for the grip the material provides. However, not only is it non-biodegradable and non-recyclable, but it also releases toxic gases on incineration. Moreover, to soften the material, PVC is coupled with phthalates, which are known carcinogens and hormone disruptors — definitely not something you want to practise pranic breathing on! Luckily, there are alternatives.

  • Natural rubber mats are far more biodegradable than plastic and also provide a good grip for the more complex yoga However, they will not work for those with rubber/latex allergies.
  • Cork mats are eco-friendly and easily recyclable. Most such mats are a blend of cork and rubber and thus provide a good sweat-proof grip. Cork is also known to have antimicrobial properties that make it a great option for sharing amongst family/friends.
  • Cotton mats are eco-friendly and safe, especially if the cotton is sustainably sourced. They also double up as interesting rugs to warm up the living room. However, while they work for Beginner and Restorative poses, they may not be the most comfortable for an advanced.
  • Woven grass mats are made of Kusha and Darbha grass and are by far the most sustainable option. These mats get brownie points for the smell and feel of grass under your feet. Their only con is that they are not as plush and comfy as the other options.
When it comes to mats, opt for alternatives like cork (pictured above), natural rubber or organic cotton. Image Source: Flickr

Where you can get them: Rubber yoga mats are available at Kosha. Their mats are 88% biodegradable over the course of three years in landfill conditions. Cork, natural India rubber, cotton and jute mats are available at Juru Yoga, one of India’s first sustainable yoga accessories companies. Meanwhile, Milind Soman’s venture Deivee has on offer hand-woven yoga mats made of Sambu grass, banana fibre and jute.

2. Wear Insta-worthy (But Conscious) Clothing

Back in the day, yoga was practised in loose-fitting cotton clothes, and many still do the same. Image Source: Unsplash

In ancient India, yoga was practised in simple loose-fitting cotton clothes, and many from the older generation still do the same. Many others, however, have turned to synthetic fibres like Lycra which are non-biodegradable and release microfibres with every wash, which ultimately end up in water bodies. An alternative is to use ethically sourced organic cotton, jute, and hemp clothes.

Where: Stretchery is an indigenous brand that offers organic GOTS approved cotton workout wear. Their range for women is made of 95% organic cotton and only 5% Lycra to make the clothing stretchy. Satva is another homegrown brand with a range of organic, fair-trade cotton exercise wear. Kosha has a range of women’s leggings made out of abandoned fishing nets.

3. Accessorise Right

Both Juru Yoga and Kosha have yoga blocks made of cork. Other products include sustainable meditation pillows, yoga straps, sandbags and more.

4. Perfect the art of DIY snacking

Peanuts are a nutritional powerhouse and can be used to make several snack options. Image Source: Pixabay

Most of us rely on snack bars, cereal, and other processed foods for our pre- or post-workout snack. But why not try to whip up some easy and healthy snacks at home?

  • Gul Poli

Ingredients: Jaggery, besan, ghee, chapati dough, a pinch of nutmeg (optional)

Method: Heat up ghee in a large pan until it melts. Add chickpea flour and roast until fragrant. Let the mixture cool. Next, fold in grated jaggery and nutmeg and mix until the filling comes together. Roll out the dough, stuff with filling and roll out, just like you’d do with a paratha. Roast on a tawa with ghee. Store in a cool place for a fortnight.

  • Peanut Laddoos

Ingredients: Peanuts, jaggery, ghee, cardamom powder (optional)

Method: Roast peanuts in a pan over a low flame. Take the skins off and grind coarsely. Grate/chop jaggery and add it to the peanuts till the mixture achieves the desired sweetness. Add ghee to moisten the mixture, throw in some powdered cardamom and shape into laddoos. Store at room temperature for a fortnight.

Note: This article was initially published on Ethico India.

About the Author: Yashodhara is a new mommy, IT professional, and cat lover who lives in Mumbai. When not running after her toddler, she’s trying her best to read, write and catch a few extra winks.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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Find out more about the campaign here.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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