A Talk with Kim Gerlach about Sustainability in Yoga

While doing Yoga classes in Malmö, Sweden, I have a chance to meet a lot of fantastic people. I meet Kim Gerlach and I talk to her to get very interesting and new points of view on Sustainability in Yoga, especially Yoga fashion. Kim has been working with sustainable fashion for over 5 years now and currently helps fashion weeks to become more sustainable. But even longer than that, she's been a yogi wherever she lives. Sometimes more active than other times. She now lives in Malmö and invests her money in sustainable clothes, even for yoga. You can follow Kim on Instagram #kimgoeseko and get free content and books on her website:

1. Hi Kim! How related is Sustainability to the practice of Yoga?

- To me, caring about the people and the planet can only happen if I'm at ease with myself. Yoga is about connecting with your own body and being mindful of it. It's about creating inner balance and a state of bliss. And being in that state of mind is personal sustainability.

2. Can you share what is sustainable Yoga wear: material, production, retail, etc..? And please suggest some of your favorite brands. What makes their products sustainable?

When it comes to clothes, they are in direct contact with one of our biggest organs; our skin. Our skin is great in absorbing chemicals that may sit in the clothes and thus, I generally take care of what clothes I wear. Especially with physical activities (sweat and an increase in body temperature), chemicals and harmful substances can easily dissolve. That’s one aspect. The other aspect to me is how these clothes are being produced. I want all humans to be treated fair and thus, some labels take care of paying their workers' fair wages and ensure fair working conditions. There are some labels based in Europa that I can recommend. But if you google ‘sustainable/slow yoga wear’ you will be able to find something maybe closer to where you like. Here are my local heroes: - Yoiqi - OGNX - Mandalayogawear - UrbanGoddess - Organic Basics and Ecoalf also have activewear - Hey Honey Yoga

3. Similarly, what about sustainable Yoga mats?

It's weird that nowadays only a fraction of yoga mats are produced sustainably although one may think yogis care a lot about their health. When you think of a normal (non-sustainable) yoga mat, there may be many chemicals that are in direct contact with your skin (e.g. when you lay on it or when you're barefoot on your mat) and that's a little alarming. Many yoga mats have a strong odor when you buy them. A smell similar to plastic. Another aspect besides the material composition themselves is the production process. Some of my favorite brands take care of the people producing your mat by paying fair wages and assuring good working conditions. -hejhej mats. They started in Malmö and are my all time favourite. More pricey but very sustainable. - There is also: Lotuscrafts, Manduka and Grounded Factory

4. Let's say someone already has a mat and some Yoga clothes. What else do you suggest we could do to contribute to sustainability?

- Use your mat and clothes as long as possible. That’s very sustainable! - If you have an extra mat, maybe gift it to a friend? - If you intend to buy new yoga clothes, go with a unicolour black version as it never goes out of style. - For any sort of clothes, look for organic cotton or GOTS-certified clothes that have less harmful chemicals in them. - Washing your activewear without softener will keep the textile to be breathable. - Follow some inspiring slow fashion people on social media and unfollow all other influencers that just try to sell you new stuff. - Unsubscribe all the fashion newsletters, it def helps! - You could download the Conscious Closet Guide. A guide to understanding ‘slow fashion’ and what you can do to change!

Thanks so much Kim! Coming from Vietnam, where Yoga is a new, emerging industry, I have seen that most Yoga doers around own LOADS of Yoga clothes, often low cost so that they can buy many colors and styles. Many clothes are just bought for one specific Yoga photo shooting or events - people love being uniform in Vietnam. Some of my Vietnamese Yogi friends told me they have a crisis of hundreds of Yoga clothes items at home. I myself got into the trap of buying some cheap Yoga clothes too, luckily I managed to sell them away after 1 single time wearing them knowing that there's no 2nd time.

This talk is refreshing for me too. I have cut down on using some stuff, but sometimes I still find myself so deep in materialism it's frustrating.

This conversation will also be in Vietnamese so that I can share it with my Viet friends!

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