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Gear & Props

Green Your Practice: 39 Eco-Friendly Yoga Essentials

Honor Mother Earth on Earth Day—and year-round—with eco-friendly yoga gear that looks good and works hard.

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Honor Mother Earth on Earth Day—and year-round—with eco-friendly yoga gear that looks good and works hard.

It’s only natural that yogis want to be mindful of their environmental impact. To help you align your inner practice with your outer style, we sought the most eco-friendly yoga gear we could find. Organic or recycled fabrics, local supply or production, and reduced packaging were just a few of the criteria. Plus, each bottom, top, mat, and prop needed to perform during practice. So we partnered with Yoga Pod in Boulder, Colorado, and asked 24 of their yogis, who teach a variety of styles, to put more than 6o selections to the test. Featured here, 21 of their favorites and the qualities that make these products shine.

Vastra Travel Towel

Use it to stay dry during hot yoga class, towel off post-shower, or to wear as a stylish scarf outside the studio. The hand-loomed and quick-drying organic cotton comes in colors made from Ayurvedic herbs and plants, such as Vetiver, Indigo, and Acacia Catechu.


Hugger Mugger Eco Bamboo Yoga Towel

Made from latex-free, renewable bamboo fiber, this towel is a highly absorbent, nonslip addition to your hot yoga practice. Use it alone or over your mat—it’s lightweight and won’t bunch up no matter how vigorous your series of poses.


New Balance Anue Kama 
Racerback Tank

The recycled poly/Spandex fabric “felt great” against skin, said one tester, and it “dried quickly after sweaty yoga.” Plus, the supportive built-in bra and angled side seams prevent chafing as you move through poses.


Soybu Alecia Tank

This tank will give you all the support—and style—you need to get through a vigorous series of poses. And since its unique “RE-FLEX” fabric is made from recycled plastic, every Alecia Tank saves about 12 soda and water bottles from the landfill.


Satva Ayanna Legging

No time for a wardrobe change after class? These comfortable skinny leggings with a rollover waistband and ankle-tie detailing are stylish do-gooders. One teacher noted the “especially soft cotton” that’s certified organic and produced in rural India. The company invests a portion of its proceeds back into those communities to support local farmers.


Onzie Copa Cabana Capri

These chic capris feature a colorful, fun design that’s printed in a uniquely environmentally conscious way. It’s called “sublimation printing,” a direct-to-textile process that eliminates all the toxic chemicals (like flame retardants and formaldehyde) involved in conventional screen-printing.


See also YJ Editor Picks: Top Yoga Pants of 2014

Teeki Purple Hazed Sun Shorts

Comfort is key during a hot yoga class, and these shorts deliver. Testers loved “the high-low waistband option” and the four-way stretch that “allows a lot of movement throughout a practice.” The fabric is 79 percent recycled polyester (21 percent body-hugging Spandex) to help manage moisture, resist chafing, and fend off bacteria.


See also Gear to Keep You Cool in Hot Yoga

Lole Navasana Shorts

These sassy, shapely little shorts are ideal for a steamy, hot yoga class. The four-way stretch means they’re comfortable in any pose, but won’t ride up as you move through your series. They’re made from a dynamic blend of organic cotton, Tencel, and elastane.


Inner Waves Organics 
Mohala Camisole

As if making a comfortable camisole domestically from organic cotton doesn’t earn Inner Waves enough environmental street cred, the company also collects and reuses any fibers that land on the fabric-mill walls and ceiling during weaving, as well as recycles the dye water. Plus, the “soft cotton fabric was cozy during a restorative practice, and cooling during a faster heated class,” said a tester.


Carolina Morning Designs 
Buckwheat Yoga Block

Manufactured in the mountains of North Carolina and filled with domestically grown buckwheat, this block leaves a small carbon footprint. Yogis attested that it’s firm enough for supported Fish Pose yet has enough give to be a comfortable sitting cushion or between-thigh prop. One tester was able to “rest my forehead on it in forward folds without pain,” making it a great option for Yin Yoga and restorative yoga. The zippered cloth cover is removable and washable.


Barefoot Yoga Indian Rosewood Yoga Block

Eco-friendly yoga block

This lightweight, sturdy, durable block is crafted from Indian Rosewood—a sustainable hardwood also known as the Shisham Tree. These fast-growing trees are the most cultivated timber trees in India, prized for their naturally dark wood with beautifully contrasting layers of lighter, new growth.


Yoloha Cork Yoga Mat

Testers said this mat needed no air-out time to off-gas—you can start practicing right away on its sustainably harvested cork backed by rubber made from recycled tires. Naturally antimicrobial—meaning no germs and no residual body odor—the material contains a plant-based waxy substance called suberin, which only gets grippier when wet (perfect for hot yoga or SUP yoga).


Yogasana Yoga Mat

Each of these woven cotton mats is made completely by hand (and signed) by one of the master weavers in the ancient Indian city of Benares. In fact, the entire process—from the harvesting of the cotton to the natural dying and weaving on a manual loom—is done by hand. And part of the proceeds from each sale goes toward providing school supplies for the children of those workers.


See also 5 Teachers’ Favorite Yoga Mats

Wai Lana Green Organic 
Cotton Yoga Tote

Made from organic cotton tinted with natural dyes and embellished with embroidered designs, this yoga-mat tote is “light and large enough to take the mat in and out of the bag easily, without being too roomy,” a teacher tester said.


The Bee Yoga Mat Bag

Because they’re made from upcycled fabrics, each one of these bags is a one-of-a-kind creation. The company repurposes upholstery samples as well as fabrics from cargo and capri pants, turning them into bags that are as beautiful as they are functional (sturdy shoulder strap, loop for your keys, and pockets to stash your ID and other small essentials).


Love My Mat Meditation 

Dubbed “sitting-pretty pillows,” the cushions are made of beautiful reclaimed fabrics including floral prints, paisley, and other fun, colorful patterns. They are filled with buckwheat hulls from a local supplier, and they come with little to no packaging for reduced waste.


Carolina Morning Designs Smile Cushion

In order to provide the ultimate comfort while meditating, this cushion is wide at the base (more support for hips and thighs) and the height is adjustable (an opening hidden behind the handle allows you to add or remove stuffing for the perfect fit). The cover is made from 100 percent organic cotton, and the cushion is filled with buckwheat hulls.


Moving Comfort Urban X-Over Sports Bra

Adjustable, crisscrossing straps and contoured cups provide “great support throughout a vigorous practice,” said testers. But what truly makes this bra unique: The cups are filled with “DriLayer Buzz,” a trademarked material made from recycled coffee grounds that provides moisture management and odor control.


4-rth Long Cuffed Perfection Yoga Pants

Pronounced “for earth,” this company uses Modal, a fabric crafted from beechwood chips derived from sustainably farmed birch trees, to create stylish pants that “feel great” and “move very well in poses,” said yogis. And the company is doing even more for the earth by eliminating hangtags and plastic packaging.


See also 6 Yoga Pants That Aren’t Black

Prana Sutra Pant

With a relaxed fit, slouchy front pockets, and a drawstring waist, these pants could easily become your go-tos for practice, lounging, and around town. The super-soft, environmentally friendly fabric is a blend of hemp and recycled PET (made from plastic bottles), plus just enough Lycra to help hold their shape.


Gaiam Sol Dry-Grip Yoga Mat

Thanks to a stay-dry topcoat that wicks away moisture, “this mat had good grip, both dry and sweaty,” said one teacher. It’s also free of the most harmful phthalates—chemicals that make plastic flexible and have been linked to human health issues. The unique closed-cell rubber blocks germs, odor, and bacteria from taking up residence on the mat.


See also Explore Eco-Friendly Yoga Mats

Jade Harmony Professional Yoga Mat

This natural-rubber mat offers great cushion and grip, is manufactured in the United States, and contains no synthetic rubber or potentially harmful PVCs. Plus, each mat purchased helps support Trees for the Future, an organization that helps communities plant more trees.


See also YJ Editors’ Picks: Best Yoga Mats of 2014

Purusha People Organic 
Mermaid II Leggings

Incredibly soft, comfy, and breathable, these organic-cotton leggings “held up well,” even in hot yoga class, said one teacher. They’re made in the United States with low-impact fiber-reactive dyes—meaning dyes bond to fibers in a way that reduces wastewater during production—and nontoxic water-based ink for the screen printing.


Hyde Wren Legging

These leggings were designed with (and named after) Ame Wren, founder of the Boston Yoga School, to ensure maximum comfort and function. But even better than how they fit is how they help: 10 percent of the proceeds go to Farm Sanctuary, a nonprofit that protects farm animals from cruel treatment.


Love My Mat Bolster

The mother-daughter team behind this company reclaims previously owned curtains, tablecloths, and more, transforming them into unique bolsters with the “perfect amount of filling” and a “gorgeous” design, said one tester. The cotton used for the filling is sourced from a local supplier to help minimize shipping distances and Love My Mat’s carbon footprint.


Carolina Morning Designs Organic Yoga Bolster

This bolster’s removable, washable cover is made from 100 percent organic cotton muslin, and the filling is organic, dust-mite-resistant kapok (a natural fiber harvested from the seed pods of the kapok tree). The combination makes for firm but comfortable support for a variety of stretching and resting asanas.


Anjali Men’s Practice Top

This fitted tank won’t ride up during inverted postures, plus the flat-lock seams help prevent chafing during a hot, sweaty class. The “extremely soft” and “most comfortable” material that teachers dug comes from the eco-friendly fabric blend—rayon (derived from bamboo pulp), organic cotton, and just enough Spandex to hold the tank’s shape.


Prana Crux Crew

This soft, comfortable tee does it all—it’s quick drying, antimicrobial, and has angled side seams to eliminate chafing. Plus, it’s made from a fabric that blends 92 percent recycled polyester with 8 percent natural hemp.


Beckons Strength Reversible Sports Bra

This Colorado-made, double-layered organic-cotton sports bra is naturally breathable and, yogis said, feels “very comfortable” for all types of yoga. Choose among classic white or three vivid color combinations.


Threads for Thought Half Lotus Crop

These capris earned high marks for fit and feel thanks to the wide waistband, which offers support without binding, and a seamless design that ensures comfortable transitioning between poses. Plus, the polyester fiber is made from recycled water bottles and brushed on both sides to create a super-soft feel.


Prana Freya Knicker

Two things you really want in your yoga pants: comfort and style. These stretchy, naturally wicking knickers accomplish both goals, plus they’re made from an environmentally friendly combo of organic cotton and hemp (with just a touch of Spandex for a perfect fit).


Farm2Fashion Lotus Flower 
& Om Throw

Part of the Karma Mama collection of blankets, this domestically produced recycled-yarn throw is emblazoned with a lotus flower and sacred Om symbol. Less of a prop to modify postures, this cozy blanket is “great to cover students to make them feel secure, and a warmer-upper during Savasana and restorative poses,” said one yoga instructor.


Hugger Mugger Recycled Plaid Blanket

This extra-thick blanket provides comfortable support for Shoulderstand and restorative yoga poses. It’s woven using recycled polyester and acrylic fibers—making it a good choice for the environment as well as for anyone who has an allergy or sensitivity to traditional wool blankets.


Gaiam Organic Cotton Flow Harem pants

These chic, slouchy, jogger-style pants strike the perfect note for a relaxed Yin Yoga or restorative practice, said testers. The Fair Trade pants are made in Peru, using Gaiam’s “ecoOM technology,” which blends natural fibers and comfort stretch materials that are “nice and soft,” according to one teacher.


Alternative Apparel Move Jogger Pants

As you flow through your Yin practice, you want your yoga pants to move from pose to pose as effortlessly as you do. These organic terry joggers are just loose enough to allow for that total freedom of movement, but slim enough to be flattering in the studio or on the street.


Lolë Savasana 2 Tank Top

This loose tank drapes flatteringly without clinging, making it an easy choice for Yin Yoga or unheated vinyasa, said testers. The moisture-wicking jersey (a combination of polyester and Lycra) is made partly from recycled plastic bottles.


Threads for Thought Blossom Yoga Top

There’s nothing stopping you from taking this tank straight from class out to coffee (or tea or a green smoothie). It’s long enough to keep you covered during any pose, and also pairs well with whatever you wear off the mat. And the brushed polyester fabric is super soft and made from recycled water bottles.


Manduka GO Free 2.0 
Yoga Backpack

Stash everything you need for practice and beyond—your yoga mat, laptop (in the padded pocket), cell phone, clothing, and more—in this sleek, carry-it-all backpack. Materials are certified by OEKO-TEX, a European agency that ensures the environmental safety of textiles.


Esperos Rojo Classic Backpack

This stylish backpack includes a padded laptop sleeve plus zippered pockets to keep other essentials safe. It delivers materials never treated with environmentally damaging fluoropolymers or formaldehyde, and money from the sale of each bag helps support educational efforts for children in the developing world.


See also 9 Must-Pack Essentials for Yoga Festivals