earth day 2010: montreal’s greenest yoga studios

We’re celebrating Earth Day by getting out of the blogosphere and into our community! Here are three Montréal yoga studios – rad’a montréal, Studios Vert Prana and Centre Luna Yoga – who are doing their best to be green and eco-conscious, and inform how they manage their spaces with yogic principles.

The charming exterior of rad'a.

rad’a montreal
Trine Mikkelsen, Director

At rad’a we only use green cleaning products, we recycle, and we’ve renovated our building with non-toxic paint and materials. We are also a cooperative office space supporting small businesses who all work in eco-friendly housing, sustainability, coaching and consulting. We are part of a spiritual community, Yasodhara Ashram in British Columbia, who are working on becoming carbon neutral and we do what we can to learn from them and follow along.

I feel there is a strong connection between eco-consciousness and yoga. For me they are both about practicing awareness. Both are a deepening and an opening to who we are, and how we are interconnected with everyone and everything around us. So living a life with yoga is all about being aware of how you are in the world, and slowly realizing that everything is connected. As I become more aware of this, I begin to see with a bigger perspective. Our earth, the place I call home, is no longer just a place which is here to accommodate me – it is me. And if I respect and care for myself, I also want to respect and care for the environment around me as much as I can. The same way I want to care for the environment within me through my yoga practice.

One of the fundamental practices at rad’a is a standing meditation on the Light. As we fill ourselves with Light we are able to give from an overflow. If we live our life like that in everything we do, and if we hold that image in our minds as we live on this earth, then we are on our way to balance and a healthy foundation within and all around.

The cozy hangout area, with upcycled benches & table, at Studios Vert Prana.

Studios Vert Prana
Nathalie Veilleux, Owner & Manager

When we renovated our space, we re-used most of the wood we took off from the supporting wall and created a decorative wall and parts of the reception desk and benches with it. My boyfriend made a table for the tea and the shelf for retail items with recycled kitchen cabinets. All the doors of the change rooms and such were bought at the Ecocentre. We use cleaning products from Les Nettoyants Écologiques Lemieux and use washable hand towels and tea tree oil to clean the yoga mats.

We offer “regular” and hot yoga classes. Of course, hot yoga uses more energy than regular yoga, so we try to have two hot classes in a row to maximize the heat and we do not heat more than 32ºC. But already with the warmer weather we are going up to 33ºC or even 35ºC without heating, just with the sunshine coming through our windows. Another plus of not over-heating is that people do not absolutely have to shower after the class. We don’t soak ‘n’ sweat during our hot classes (well, if we do backbends and inversions yes, but it’s not all the time!).

I’m not sure there is a connection between BEING eco-conscious and yoga. Because it is so trendy, many people may say they are eco-conscious without really being or doing anything. In my opinion, we have a lot more to do before we get there – more than recycling and buying organic bananas.

But yoga is a tool to become more conscious, and as we practice yoga for a long period of time, we have no choice but to become more conscious of life and our choices. Eventually and hopefully our choices will be made for the sustainability of the earth and our resources. Let’s be patient and breathe!

Bending backwards for the earth at Centre Luna Yoga (image via Facebook).

Centre Luna Yoga
Bram Levinson, Studio Manager

Our distinguishing feature is our worm compost, which we fill with all of our food waste and biodegradable material. We then use the compost on the plants in the studio. Once a year, we clear out our mat storage space and all unclaimed mats and clothing items are donated to charity. This year, we donated everything to Chez Doris, a women’s shelter. In previous years, we’ve sold the mats and donated the money to the SPCA. We’ve also phased out plastic water bottles and replaced them with stainless steel water bottles that people can purchase and reuse. 90% of our cleaning products are eco-friendly (we’re big fans of Method products from Pharmaprix). And of course, we recycle everything that can be recycled.

Jenn Maagendans, founder of the studio, has a degree in Environmental Studies and is a Jivamukti teacher, so she embodies a respect for the environment and all creatures in her business-making decisions. Her recent DVD, Yoga Flo for Peace, was produced with recycled materials and vegetable inks, and one dollar from each purchase is contributed to Equiterre.

I find that if you practice yoga, you’re aware of your role in the whole equation and that everything is interdependent. The energy that makes us up is no different from the energy in animals, rivers, trees. When you’re taking care of yourself and practicing yoga, it spills over into everything else in your life. You begin to be aware of the interdependency between people and the planet. We’re all just guests on this earth, we don’t own it; practicing yoga helps you understand that.

  1. Oh cool. Sigh- Halifax has a long way to go before having this type of commitment in their studios. But there have been progress made.

    Nice to know where I need to go should I visit Montreal (which I SHOULD!).

    • yes, SHOULD visit montreal sometime soon! i recommend all of these studios… and you’re definitely welcome to come to one of my classes at rad’a!

  2. Love it! Yay for Montreal studios, every little bit counts.

  3. I just have to say I just found your site and I am so enjoying it – especially your entries on all the yoga studios you tried in Montreal with your Passport to Prana. I live in Montreal as well and it was fun to live through the experiences with you. I’m not sure how I’d feel about taking classes in French, and even going to so many different studios would be a bit stressful, but it sounds like such a great, opening experience. Thanks for sharing it with all of us!

    • thanks for stopping by, jodi! i’m glad that you’re enjoying my montreal yoga adventures. and your comment reminds me that i haven’t been keeping up on my passport to prana responsibilities… yikes! i have to get back on track…