In the beginning of my yoga journey, buying a mat did not pose any glitches. Only two things mattered then – the cost and the colour of the mat; and the decision was easy. But as my practice deepened, the need to connect directly to earth, without an artificial barrier in between became important.
In addition, knowing that PVC mats becomes a burden to the environment, it was difficult to be happy with the mat I was using. I felt the need to work in tune with nature and not against it.
Seated prayers in India never involve artificial materials. We use wooden planks, Dharbha grass or special mats made of natural materials specially designed for the purpose.
To me, Yoga is a sacred and spiritual practice through which we become one with nature. So how can we use artificial mats for the practice?
Thus began my search for a natural yoga mat. I felt this urge to bring back that connection to nature without having to worry about the consequences of yoga practice.
Seeing how difficult it was to get natural yoga accessories, it became my next purpose – to introduce sustainable and handmade yoga accessories to the UAE market, build awareness and encourage responsible yoga practice.
The decision itself is easy, but the actualization is tough. Two years of research later, and with tremendous support from my husband, friends and well wishers, Flamingo Yoga & Wellness is now is committed to bring forth 100% natural yoga accessories to the UAE and slowly to the GCC countries.
Hema Laxman, Owner
We do not use plastic in our products or packaging. Our packaging is made of ecofriednly materials which can be reused or recycled
Our products are free of PVC, Phthalates and harmful chemicals. We use "Azo free dyes" for colouring
All products are long lasting, reusable and environmentally friendly
Our mats and blankets are handwoven by rural artisans in India. All products are sourced from small businesses and are all handmade
`AED 5/ from every purchase made is set aside for the benefit of weaving community
Cotton is breathable, hypoallergenic, environmentally friendly and biodegradable natural fibre. Our mats, straps and the inner and outer covers of our bolsters are made entirely of 100% natural cotton making them the perfect accessory for your yoga needs.
Our blocks are made from 100% cork which is sustainably sourced. They are a natural product taken from the bark of the tree and no trees are cut down in the process. Cork is light, antimicrobial, provides excellent support and are firmer than foam blocks.
Flax seeds being another natural product is our choice for filling our eye pillows. The eye pillow shuts out the light, and the gentle pressure it provides on the eyes along with the scent of lavender helps to relieve tension and stress.
Also known as Silk cotton, it is taken from the pod of a tropical tree. Its soft and plush fibers are air dried and used extensively in filling of cushions. Kapoks is 8 times lighter than cotton making our bolsters super light, yet firm.
Our choice of filling the Zafu cushions. It conforms to the shape of the body, and provide good support. It allows air circulation and does not retain or emit heat, making them suitable for use in all climates. Prior to filling, buckwheat hulls are heat treated with Neem leaves (without chemicals) .
We have a community of 48 weavers and they are the creators of our unique, eco-friendly and handwoven yoga mats and blankets. Each weaver spends half a day to a full day to complete the weaving of a mat/blanket. The entire process is labour intensive as they use manual looms driven by constant movement of hands or feet. No power is used in the process. Weaving is the only work they know and consequently their only source of income.
There are two different sets of yarns: ‘warp’ which is stretched in place in the loom and the weft which is the moving component, threaded through the warp during the weaving process.
We underestimate the amount of work that goes into the making of these blankets and yoga mats.
All the props that we sell through our website comes through these artisans. Nothing is automated. Each bolster, meditation cushion and eye pillow are filled by hand and stitched to bring us ease and comfort during yoga.
Through the images below, let me try to take you through the process from dyeing of cotton to the end result which is the blanket and yoga mats. These images were clicked during our visit to the weavers.
There is a mini-water treatment plant is within the facility where the yarns are dyed. After the dyeing process is complete, water is treated here to be reused and recycled within the facility – Hence, no harm to the environment.
AZO FREE dyes are used for coloring . You can see the large steel rods holding the yarns inside. The dye is then applied in the right quantity to get the desired colors. The image does not do justice to the beauty of these dyed cotton yarns. You can see me in front of the machines, all smiles about the beauty and simplicity of it all.
My husband in the background admiring the colors. The steel rods that you see along with the yarns, came out of the dyeing process and now is ready to be moved into the drier.
These little cotton wefts move from side to side in the manual loom. They are inserted over and under the warps to form the final weave. The wefts are manually made using little hand made wooden Charkas.
The threads that you see here go through the wooden frames and is then rolled together to make the warp. The next image is a continuation from here.
The Smiling gentleman here manually rotates this wooden frame to get the threads stronger and longer for the warps. Warp is stretched in place in the loom.
You can see how these warps form the lengthwise aspect of the loom in the next image. The warps are much stronger than the wefts.
This was a stationary loom, the person in charge was away for a break. But I loved the colours and decided to take the picture anyway.
This is the cotton blanket weaving. There is continuous movement of the hands and feet and there is no use of electricity at all. You can see the long threads or the warps clearly. Blanket weaving takes a day and is slightly easier than the mats.
Weaving is a lot of hard work and requires practice and precision. The artisans work hard day and night to bring forth the beautiful masterpiece which we see and love to own.
That is me with the weavers. They were all very happy to click photos with us in spite of being busy at their work. Their smiles and authenticity is genuine.
This is within the unit of bolster production, The bolsters and cushions are manually filled. Here we see the stitching of the Bolster covers which are done with precision by these youngsters.
You can see that the machinery used for the mats are different when compared to the blankets pictured above. The mats take longer to finish – anywhere between two to three days of work without electricity.