Featured Business: Yogasana

by Andrea Butje on October 30, 2013

DSC01534-300x225If you’re a yogi, you’ve most likely heard of the Bhagavad Gita, one of the oldest and most sacred texts in the world of yoga. In Chapter VI, Verse II, the Bhagavad Gita states the importance of using natural materials during the practice of yoga. So why are the majority of yoga mats made of PVC-containing plastics?

I recently learned about a great company that makes 100% natural-cotton yoga mats, Yogasana. Made in northern India, Yogasana’s mats are hand-woven on manual looms, can be used indoors and outdoors, and come in seven different colors.

One of the things that I absolutely love about Yogasana is what they stand for. They strive to practice sustainability, like using electricity-free manufacturing, locally sourced cotton, and coloring with non-toxic dyes. They also have created the Yogasana Circle, which is their way of giving back to their workers.

I had a chance to interview Kevin Aylward, the owner of Yogasana, to learn more about the company. Read on to see how you can support Yogasana Mats and their mission!

On your website, you mentioned that you had been making rugs in India for 15 years prior to opening Yogasana. What inspired you to make this switch from creating rugs to creating yoga mats?

We still make rugs in India. Our company, Prairie Rugs, makes the world’s finest cotton area rugs. We took our expertise in weaving cotton and applied it towards making a mat dedicated to yoga. As opposed to taking a cotton dhurrie (flat-weave) and calling it a yoga rug, we started from scratch and set out to make a cotton mat whose raison d’etre—the reason for existence—is yoga.

What makes Yogasana mats better than other yoga mats?

We don’t make the claim that our mats are better, but they are different. We would compare Yogasana to the other eco-yoga mats that are available. We would not compare our mat to the PVC mats sold in the mass market, because these plastic mats are a completely different product. Most eco-yoga mats, whether they are made of rubber or TPE or PER (non-PVC materials) are extruded by a machine. Yogasana mats are hand-woven with care by weavers, many of whom have been practicing their craft for many years. After three days of weaving, the signature of the craftsman is added to the product tag attached to each mat. Our mats are hand-made near an ancient city in India that we fondly refer to by its historic name: Benares.

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What part of Yogasana’s mission are you most proud of?

We have set up a foundation called Yogasana Circle. Part of the proceeds from each mat sold are given back to the community of workers to support the education of their children, and when a yogi buys a mat, they have an opportunity to make an additional contribution. One-hundred percent of these additional donations go to this cause, and there are no administration fees deducted.

We believe that the karma is good, and that education is vital to lift children and their families up and into better opportunities. Often times, basic necessities for school children (books, pencils, paper and uniforms) are difficult for poor families to afford, which is why we have dedicated part of the proceeds of Yogasana mats to help supply these items. Every dollar is accounted for separately, and no funds are lost in the transfer of these donations to our counterparts in India, who are responsible for the purchase and distribution of these materials.

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What plans does Yogasana have for the future in terms of business, as well as continuing to be eco-friendly?

We believe that we are making the most eco-sustainable yoga mats on the planet. We will always be dedicated to trying to be socially responsible in our manufacturing practices. We are a founding member (through Prairie Rugs) of the Sustainable Furnishings Council – an industry organization that is dedicated to supporting sustainable manufacturing practices. We will consider offering additional yoga related products – if they are unique and can be made in a sustainable way. More importantly, we want to support and grow Yogasana Circle. It’s this cause that empowers our company. Our dream is that someday we can build a school in India to help educate the children in the community where our mats are made.  Nothing would please us more than this!

To purchase a Yogasana mat, make a donation to Yogasana Circle, or simply get more information about Yogasana, visit their website at www.yogasanamats.com.

Join Yogasana on their social media pages!

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