Sustainable, responsible & functional yoga clothing

NOTE: I worked with Fit Approach on their #pranaSpringStyle campaign on Instagram and received a free prAna top (as shown below) in compensation. I received the top after the challenge was over, and I wrote my original post about the prAna mat more than a year before this. All opinions regarding prAna are my own. Jump directly to my discount code.

As you begin to expand your yoga journey outside the physical poses (asana) of yoga and start to take your mindfulness off of the mat and into your daily life, you might find yourself more aware of what kinds of companies and business practices you are supporting with your purchases. I know that has been a part of my own journey. Not only do I try to invest my clothing dollars in products that are made sustainably, are toxin-free, and whose companies practice environmental responsibility, but the bonus has been that the quality is often higher than cheaper pieces.

I’m currently teaching four yoga classes per week, one Lagree fitness class, and I try to take at least one class from another instructor, so I spend a lot of time in my yoga clothing. I not only practice in it, but I often end up transitioning directly from a class to preschool or elementary school pickup, or to the grocery store. (If you do this a lot too, I do have a DIY tutorial for a coverup skirt you might check out!) But the point is: I am now choosing quality over quantity. I can save up longer and slowly replace my cheaper pieces with longer lasting versions.

One company that has never let me down is prAna. Not only do I recommend their non-toxic rubber yoga mat, but I have loved every single piece of clothing of theirs that I have owned. I recently had the opportunity to participate in a daily yoga challenge celebrating their Spring Style line of clothing and loved the sense of community it built. You can look back on the posts by searching Instagram for the #prAnaSpringStyle hashtag. Here are some of my favorite shots from the challenge:

Well, that final picture was actually taken after the challenge, when I had received my new grey Quinn Jacquard Top from prAna. To be honest, I wasn’t sure about it from the picture on the site but it fits wonderfully. It moves with me, doesn’t rub in irritating places, and has full frontal coverage without having to add a sports bra. LOVE. And, it is certified bluesign®, which indicates the highest standard in the textile industry for environmental health and safety and chemical management – it’s a third party certification that prAna pays for, to ensure it’s not just greenwashing.

If you happen to be looking for some high quality, high performance, sustainably & ethically produced activewear you can get 15% off any prAna purchase right now using my code: PSSS16LC

And be sure to keep following myself and prAna on Instagram for challenges, inspiration, and the day-to-day active journey!

Holy Yoga in the Park and email signup

This week I taught my first Holy Yoga class in our local park, Mimosa Park in Richardson! You are all welcome to join me – it will be a 4 week series, there are currently 3 weeks left. You can join at any time! It is a Gentle Flow class geared for ALL levels, including beginners. The full information can be found on my Holy Yoga Instructor site, as well as information on any of my future classes.

Holy Yoga in Mimosa Park, Richardson TX | 6:00 am Monday mornings July 13, 2015 - Aug 3, 2015 | Living Consciously Blog

If you’d like to receive emails when I start a new class series, change to a new date/time/location, and/or find a permanent and regular venue, please sign up for my Yoga Classes email list. I will only send emails when I have relevant info to share, very rarely more than once a month (sometimes even less).

Hope to see you on the mat soon!

Cheap and Free Yoga in Dallas Summer 2015

I’m heading out to my yoga teacher training in just a few days! Meanwhile, I am getting bombarded by emails, Facebook messages, texts and verbal inquiries from friends looking for somewhere to do yoga this summer. I can recommend several studios or gyms, but it sounds like no one is really willing to pay for a studio membership. If you can’t commit to a studio for whatever reason, there are actually quite a few local places you can go for cheap and free yoga in Dallas this summer. This list will change again in the fall, as some of these are temporary.
NOTE: All classes listed are non-meditative or religion-neutral or Holy Yoga when specified.

Cheap and free yoga in Dallas Summer 2015 | Living Consciously Blog

The Yoga Factory (Dallas location) – has $5 Featured Teacher classes throughout the week. You can find their schedule on the MindBody app for your smartphone or on their web site.

Lululemon on Legacy in Plano – not technically Dallas, but the only location that currently offers free yoga classes on Sundays at 10am. They feature a studio each month – June was the studio I attend, The Yoga Factory. In July, it will be another studio.

Whole Foods Park Lane – will host free yoga in their upstairs meeting room from 6:30pm – 8pm on Wednesdays. My friend Erin from Namah Shivaya will be teaching, tell her “hi” from me!

Holy Yoga at Park Cities Baptist Church – donation-based class by Master Level instructor Danette on Tuesdays 9:20am – 10:20am and Thursdays 12:00 noon – 1:00pm, West Bldg., Room #104

Holy Yoga at Dallas Ballet CenterMondays and Wednesdays 9:30am – 10:30am for $10 per class or buy a pack of 10 classes for $80. You must register online here (or from the main DBC page, click the blue “register here” button at the bottom of the far left column). The class is lead by Master Level instructor Teresa.

The Mat studio Karma Happy Hour – July 17 only, at 6:30pm there will be an Open Flow class followed by a free wine Happy Hour at 7:30pm. The event is free but you must register ahead of time online.

Holy Yoga in Downtown Frisco – beginning July 16, my friend Maureen will be teaching a flow class (all levels) for $10 per class if you purchase at 10 class card at The Sacred Space in downtown Frisco Thursdays at 5:30pm and Fridays at 9:30am. This studio also offers restorative classes with Christian meditation for various costs.

Holy Yoga in the Park, Richardson – taught by me! I will be teaching a 45 minute Flow class at 6:00am every Monday, July 13 – August 3. Free – donations accepted but not required. All levels welcome!

The list is short for now, but I’ll add to it as we go along this summer. If you are an instructor offering free or low-cost yoga classes in the Richardson or North Dallas area, please let me know and I will add your class to the list!

When your eco-friendly yoga mat is toxic

When your eco-friendly yoga mat is toxic - deciphering marketing speak to find a safe yoga mat | Living Consciously Blog

Over the past month, I have been on the search for a new yoga mat to take with me on retreat to complete my 225 yoga teacher training. For the past year, I’ve been using the prAna Indigena natural rubber mat (affiliate link), which I love! Barely any slipping. But, because it is all rubber, it is 7 lbs. Not ideal for squeezing into a carryon in a plane. And we’ll be sitting on the mat during our classroom times, instead of a chair. The prAna is 3-4mm thick, which is fine for my regular practice (I don’t need cushioning), but I wanted to move up to a 5mm thickness for the retreat.

Unfortunately, I’ve found the process of buying a toxin-free yoga mat fraught with difficulties, primarily in the form of deceptive marketing language. Sure, if you search Amazon or Google for “eco-friendly yoga mat”, you’ll come up with plenty of options. Or what companies present as viable options. But how do you really know if your yoga mat is toxic or not?

The phrase “eco-friendly” in the description of a yoga mat does NOT mean it is free of toxins

Here is a list of things that I have found companies to claim as eco-friendly in yoga mats:

  • uses PVC, but was manufactured within EPA standards for emissions at the plant
  • part or all of the mat will biodegrade (eventually)
  • eco-friendly manufacturing processes
  • doesn’t use 6 of the highest-toxin phthalates banned by the EU (which are NOT banned in the US)
  • marketing copy attaches the word “natural” to materials such as “polyurethane”
  • uses the phrase “eco-friendly” but does not disclose the materials of which the mat is composed AT ALL

Can you see what is wrong with each of these?? It’s possible that none of these mats are actually toxin-free!  It’s all marketing speak that means nothing. I will outline the problems with each of these bullet points.

Eco-friendly manufacturing processes. A phrase that could mean anything. It could mean that they recycle the trash in their break room. It could mean that they use low-flow toilets at the manufacturing plant. Or that they have an LEED-certified building. It could ideally mean that the plant producing the mats disposes of waste properly. That would be nice. However, “proper” disposal of chemicals does not equal ethical or environmentally friendly — remember that it is often perfectly legal to dump your toxic sludge into ponds and lakes as long as you have the proper permits. There is a huge amount of leeway in the claim of eco-friendly manufacturing, so much that it literally means nothing to me when making the decision to purchase the mat or not.

Biodegradable mat. There’s also a lot of wiggle room here because the most common phrase is “biodegradable components”. Meaning that only a percentage of the components used in the mat might be biodegradable. It might be 10%, 20% or even 50%. And perhaps it’s 100% — great! But I still want to know what chemicals the surface contains, regardless of whether they biodegrade.

Of course I want to buy a mat that is environmentally responsible in both manufacturing process and when it comes to the end-of-life of the mat (i.e., I want it to be fully biodegradable without leeching toxins in the breakdown process). But equally or more important is avoiding toxic chemicals coming off the mat when I’m using it.

PVC free. Definitely something I look for, but unless the company discloses what the mat IS made of, it’s not enough. The most common alternatives to PVC in a yoga mat are polyurethane (a highly off-gassing plastic, see the paragraph about phthalates, below), or Thermoplastic Elastomers (TPEs). TPE is a blanket term for any number of materials.  Here is a breakdown of all the materials that fall under the name TPE, including some forms of PVC! So just because the mat claims to be PVC-free doesn’t actually mean that it is. Even if the TPE’s used are PVC-free, they are wide open to contain plastics with phthalates.

Free of the Big 6 phthalates. Phthalates are a big deal to me because they are hormone disrupting chemicals. They are most often inhaled through the off-gassing of plastics, because most plastic contains chemical phthalates for softness and flexibility. Throughout the lifetime of a plastic, the surface constantly releases these chemicals as the material slowly breaks down. Plastics are not stable chemical products — you may have noticed that plastic becomes more brittle as it ages, due to the phthalates leaching out as the chemicals return to their original states. The phthalates released from plastics are not only inhaled, but also absorbed by the skin. The feet have the most pores in the body, and our feet are in constant contact with a yoga mat. So avoiding phthalates in your yoga mat is VERY IMPORTANT!

There are hundreds of chemicals in the phthalate family. The EU has identified 6 phthalates that pose such a severe risk that they have been banned in EU countries. They have not been banned in the US. While it’s definitely a positive step for a company to make a mat without the top 6 most toxic phthalates, it doesn’t mean they didn’t use the hundreds of other phthalates available. So the marketing tactic of avoiding the Big 6 is really not enough to protect our health on the mat.

In the end, I have come back to the conclusion that I came to when I bought my current mat several years ago: the only truly non-toxic mat is one that is made of pure natural rubber. The prAna Indigena mat is one option, but the other mats prAna makes, including the E.C.O. mat, are not rubber. The not-so-E.C.O. is made of TPE’s and the prAna site contains no information regarding what components the company chose to use, whether PVC or phthalates or synthetic rubber.

I have finally settled on a Manduka eKo Lite mat, which I have experienced at the studio where I practice. It is all rubber but a tad lighter (~ 1-2 lbs lighter) than my current mat. It is, unfortunately, about the same thickness. I will definitely be bringing my grippy yoga towel (affiliate link) to sit on, and looking for another one at local stores.

What yoga mat to do you use and why? Do you know what your mat is made of?
 

DIY Sports Skirt & Leggings coverup from an old t-shirt

DIY Sport Skirt and Leggings Coverup, #reuse an old t-shirt | Living Consciously Blog

Let’s get straight to the point here: I teach or take fitness classes almost all week long. I usually pack my classes in while my kids are in preschool or at home with my husband, and since those are the only kid-free time periods that I have, I often run quick errands either right before or right after class. While I agree that leggings are not pants from a style perspective, I do happen to still be dressed for Lagree fitness or yoga at those times. As an instructor, I have strong opinions about the type of workout pants that I chose, but that is a subject for another post. Suffice to say, baggy pants are not a good idea, either from a participant or an instructor’s standpoint. I wear workout leggings that provide compression, support, moisture wicking, and do not get in the way of twisting, flexing, and moving. So leggings as pants it is, at least when I go grocery shopping at Whole Foods after class on my way home.

During the winter months, I am more than happy to slip some warmup pants over my leggings for extra warmth, but when I have tried that in the Texas summers (110 degrees most of the time), I felt like I was suffocating within the first few minutes, and that was in the air conditioning! Attempting to be in a car that had been sitting in the sun for 2 hours was just right out of the question wearing 2 pairs of pants. I’m already carrying snacks, water bottle, yoga mat, grocery bags, even a cooler on some days. So carrying a whole extra change of clothes is equally out of the question. And why would I put on clean clothes when I’m all sweaty from class or when I’ll just have to change when I get to the studio? For the past several years there has just been no solution to the leggings-as-pants dilemma for me.

As I was cleaning out some old workout clothes last week, I came across several old fitted t-shirts. They were in good shape and fairly neutral colors. I had been drooling over this yoga skirt on Etsy but hadn’t pulled the trigger yet because I wasn’t sure of the logistics. The skirt doesn’t have a waistband and relies on tucking the top of it into your leggings or yoga pants. How would that even work?

I was willing to try cutting up the old t-shirts to try and make a DIY sports skirt and leggings coverup. Here is what I did.

Supplies:

Old t-shirt (see optional step below if it is wider than your hips)

Sewing machine, thread

Scissors

Something to use for a drawstring

 

Step 1: Cut right below the armpits to make a tube with the bottom already hemmed.

Sport Skirt CoverUp Step 1, cutting | Living Consciously Blog

Note: I chose a shirt with very little design. If your shirt does have a design and you don’t want it, you might try turning the shirt inside-out and re-hemming the sides from the other direction. That could be handy anyway if your skirt needs to be narrowed to fit your hips.

Optional next step: The ideal width for this t-shirt tube is the width of the widest part of your hips. So again, you might want to re-hem to make it more narrow. I didn’t have to do it with this t-shirt because it was so narrow already.

Step 2: Turn the waistband under. Try it on at this point and look in a mirror, holding it up with your hands. You want the bottom of the skirt to hit just below your rear end. If you go to far down the upper leg, it just looks weird. You might have to cut more off the top to make it the right length. If you are a fancy sewing person, you can use pins to pin stuff here. But t-shirts are very good at holding shape and you probably don’t even need pins!

Sport Skirt CoverUp Step 2, folding waist for hemming | Living Consciously Blog

I turned mine under a little asymmetrically to allow for my rear end. If you have a rear end, you might want to do this too. My angle is not as severe as this picture looks, though, because I am actually just a terrible fashion and sewing photographer.

Step 3: Hem the waistband, leaving a gap for the drawstring. I took several pictures of this because again, not a sewing photographer.

Sport Skirt CoverUp Step 3, waistband and drawstring | Living Consciously Blog

Sport Skirt CoverUp Step 3, closer shot of waistband and drawstring opening | Living Consciously BlogStep 4: String the drawstring through the tube you made, using the gap you left.

DONE!

DIY Sport Skirt and Leggings CoverUp Final product | Living Consciously Blog
Completed sports skirt leggings coverup. I am staring off into the distance not only because I am so impressed by the skirt but also because when I smiled for this picture it looked really weird and creepy.

Super easy and fast! It definitely took me longer to try to take pictures of this process and the finished product than it took for me to make the skirt.

Other optional steps might include tapering the waist (this would be done before Step 3. I didn’t do it in my first skirt, but I’ll do it on subsequent skirts).

I’ll try to update this post with pictures of future skirts, if you make one from this tutorial, I’d love to see it – post it on Instagram and tag me!