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NTU Sustainability in Enterprise

Clean Yoga: The Women Combining Yoga with Eco-Friendliness

14 February 19 words: Emily Thursfield

Clean Yoga sessions are run by two local fitness instructors, Victoria Douglas and Hannah Appleton, who combine their skills with a love for the environment. At each event, yogis take part in a stretching session, followed by an activity designed to inspire eco-friendliness…

How did Clean Yoga begin?
Victoria: Sustainability is something I've been conscious of for a long time. I worked as a dancer on ships for ten years, so I've seen the damage on the ocean first hand. Coming back to land and walking around the Arboretum, I noticed how much litter was around. It made me want to raise awareness.
Hannah: I saw Victoria’s post on Instagram about wanting to run an event that combined yoga and the environment, like a beach clean. We worked at the same gyms but didn’t know each other very well, so I got in contact and it went from there.

What does a typical event involve?
The first one was in May last year, and they’ve been progressing ever since. We’ve done a couple involving litter picks, a day retreat to the Peak Districts, and a picnic.
Hannah: 200 Degrees supplied us with food in big tubs, which is more eco-friendly than in little packets, and we dished everything out like dinner ladies. The latest event was a swap shop at the end of January, which was a yoga practice followed by an opportunity for people to swap unwanted Christmas presents, clothes and other items.  

What has the response been?
Hannah: Better than I expected. Often when you talk about sustainability, people can turn off or say “just let me live”. But we’re not pushy or preachy, we’re just inviting people along to a yoga practice and to do some litter picking. We’ve already got a good community building up, and people have developed friendships from it.

What have you personally taken away from the Clean Yoga events?
Victoria: It’s still a learning curve for us too. I now shop locally for vegetables, because there’s no plastic. My toiletries are completely different, and I’m very aware of what I put down the sink; I’ve swapped to soap bars with natural ingredients. We both tried washing our clothes with soap nuts… and have decided they aren’t the one!  
Hannah: Because I have a child, I'm really conscious of buying things that will last and can be passed on. I don't buy coffee unless I have my KeepCup or I'm having it in the cafe. You can't do everything, and it can feel overwhelming, but I think implementing little changes is good enough.

How do you think yoga has helped you on your journey with sustainability?
Victoria: If you're putting in the time and valuing yourself, it's going to spread to other parts of your life. Yoga has made me calmer and more aware, but it also makes you want to care for other people.
Hannah: It’s about causing as little damage to yourself and to others as you possibly can. I guess that's how yoga and the environment link with each other.

How do you think yoga enhances people's lives?
You'll become stronger and more flexible, but it also helps you mentally. Yoga brings a greater sense of self awareness; it helps you focus on what's happening now, and to let go of everything else.
Victoria: It’s important to create that space for yourself. Phones and the internet are a constant presence; we're constantly engaged, but not necessarily in things that serve us well.
Hannah: There's so much sensory overload now. It's nice to go to a yoga class where the lights are low and you can just breathe.

What’s coming up for Clean Yoga?
Hannah: We've spoken about running another retreat in the autumn, and we have other ideas in mind. We'll probably do some more litter picks around the city and another picnic in the summer.
Victoria: The reason we got talking in the first place was because we both wanted to do an ocean clean. Eventually, we hope we can work up enough support to do that.

Clean Yoga on Facebook

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