To the uninitiated, yoga may seem like little more than a group of flexible people bending their limbs in time to dreamy music.
But for the devoted, yoga is a full-fledged lifestyle. Fitness is a big part of the equation, but so is a concept called mindfulness. According to practitioners, mindfulness can help people become more environmentally conscious.
“Mindfulness to me doesn’t mean sitting in a field in silence,” says Arlet Koseian-Beckham, owner of extendYoga in Rockville. “It’s every part of my life, and more awareness of daily things. It’s synonymous with being aware of my surroundings, actions and decisions.”
It seems extendYoga can make a strong Exhibit A. Always environmentally aware, Arlet notes that yoga caused her to become even more so. It helped lead extendYoga to receive recognition from the Montgomery County Green Business Certification Program, and it motivates Arlet to operate her business in a way that attempts to influence all those who walk through the doors.
“I do think this awareness can make you more careful of how you interact with everything—from interactions with your family, with friends, and with the environment,” says Annie Abrams, a manager at extendYoga. “I notice that when I am being more mindful, I slow down and don’t rush. I am less wasteful.”
At the top of extendYoga’s sustainability portfolio is wind power, which provides 100% of the studio’s electricity. The wind power is purchased through Ethical Electric, a Washington, D.C.-based company that provides clean energy to residents and businesses through their existing utility company (in this case, Pepco).
Other green measures at extendYoga include:
The studio’s specific steps to maximize its environmental responsibility are an indispensable part of its efforts. But the real essence of its greenness is mindfulness.
You can see it across the studio, from the organic beauty products on offer in the lobby to the reminders to turn off lights when they’re not in use.
“People can see all the things you can do that are simple,” Arlet says. “Most people think you have to own your home to switch to wind power, but you don’t. We rent, and we switched to wind power, and you can, too. You can bring a Thermos for water. People notice and appreciate it. We use it as a platform.”
These sorts of things—and the environmental mindfulness they create—permeate everything at extendYoga, and people take notice.
“I’m much more likely to buy local and organic produce, because I’m more aware of the impact of my actions on my immediate environment and the planet as a whole,” says extendYoga student Gina Moskowitz. “I am limiting my meat intake, and buying consciously. I use more and more natural house cleaners, detergents, and even make-up that’s natural and cruelty-free whenever possible.”
Arlet doesn’t aggressively market her green measures, but anyone who enters the studio would be hard-pressed not to be aware of her commitment. As mindfulness of the environment deepens, so, too, does appreciation for good practices like those at extendYoga.
“As I’ve learned more and more about the commitment Arlet has to minimizing negative impact, and really giving back as much as possible, it makes it much easier to make the decision to support the studio,” Gina observes.
The effect is not limited to customers, either. Employees also notice, and benefit from, the difference. It seems no one is immune from mindfulness, if they choose to let it in.
“Working at a green business gives me a sense of pride,” Annie notes. “It’s also indicative of much more, because an employer who is thoughtful about the environment is thinking of the big picture, recognizing the value in the greater good, and respectful.”
By Scott Harris, Freelance Writer. Read Scott’s other posts on the benefits of environmental peer pressure, birds and climate change, eco-friendly ice rinks, residential solar, and congregational rain gardens.