Yogi Bare: Behind The Brand with Kat Pither

Yogi Bare Yoga Mats

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO LAUNCH YOGI BARE BACK IN 2017?

Because we’ve all been there.

Standing in a class unsure how literal 'dynamic yoga' will be taken, searching '#yogaeverydamnday' on Instagram, setting a 5am alarm to meditate and feeling guilty when not quite making it. We’ve all been there. Feeling displaced in Yoga Land. Like we don’t fit in.

For me, yoga was my back pocket healer. I discovered it quietly, softly in rehab when I was struggling with acute anxiety and PTSD, which I sought relief from in addiction. Yoga seemed like this exotic, mystical magic. I couldn’t explain it, but I knew I felt it. It shrunk demons. Tethered my mind to my body until they fell back in love with each other. I eventually trained as a Yoga Teacher to help people struggling with whatever set them off course. There was a resistance to the idea of yoga being something for other people. That you had to look a certain way, have gymnastic skills, that the world somehow couldn't touch you with its stress, heartbreak or naughtiness to be “good at yoga”. “I'm not flexible enough” is too often said. “I don’t feel comfortable, feel shut out and I don’t feel like I belong” is too often unsaid.

In my heart I felt yoga should remain accessible, fun and full of magic and delight, not comparison, competition, staid or elitism. So I got to work.

Yogi Bare is the physical manifestation of the concept of yoga being for everyone and every body. I wanted to develop a range of eco-sensitive products with accessible price points after seeing a slight shift in a strand of yoga defined by wealth, social standing, gender and ethnicity. I wanted to bring some fun and personality to a world that can sometimes seem alien or difficult to access. The name isn’t just a fun play on words but the 'Bare' is symbolic of the eco credentials and a sense of stripping back.

Yogi Bare is my love letter to the rebels, those who didn’t feel like they fit in before. Welcome home.

yogi bare kat pither

WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO OTHER FEMALE ENTREPRENEURS LOOKING TO START THEIR OWN BRAND?

You are not a female entrepreneur. You are a strong individual with a dream. A dream that is going to come true if you do it from your heart, with integrity and with passion. You have a whole community of women, a sisterhood, who all have your back. All you have to do is reach out - woman to woman - and we are here. Sure we’ve all had insecurities, expectations and doubts imprinted on us, but you are so much more and won't let them be a roadblock. They aren’t real. The coolest thing about being a female entrepreneur is that the stats show we are more likely to start a business in something we are passionate about, that will help our community. We are more likely to start something in a world and industry we know inside out. We are our own consumer, so find and feel your confidence in that. Do it your way and remember you can be soft and strong at the same time.

WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING PART OF YOUR JOB?

The community. Yogi Bare has brought me that type of friendships that would make Monica and Rachel green-eyed. I've never experienced so much connection, love or support. But it's bigger than that: I run the social media for Yogi Bare and I love watching people shyly starting out yoga in their stories. I love observing them blossom and bloom over months - not just in their practice, but also in their confidence and comfort in themselves. It's the coolest!

One of my favourite phrases is: we are all just walking one another home. That’s what being a yoga instructor or yoga brand is, you are sharing your passion with others. It's when you see faces flicker with unguarded emotion that you see how yoga is melting something away for them. Yoga is all about taking what you need – some days you need rest and restoration and some days you need to lose yourself in an empowering flow. If you can contribute quietly to someone’s development towards self-compassion and understanding - that is everything. Thanks to Yogi Bare, I truly understand what community is.

yogi bare yoga mats

WHAT MAKES THE YOGI BARE PRODUCTS ECO-FRIENDLY?

Yogi Bare mats are crafted from sustainable and biodegradable materials and non toxic, water based inks. We’ve spent time visiting our factory, to make sure that they meet our standards, but also to see the actual process of manufacturing first hand and how the people creating our products work day-to-day. That's so important to me, that Yogi Bare comes from a happy place. From the day the idea first hits me and that flash of inspiration, to the day someone has a moment of magic on their mat. We want to make sure the whole chain is happy. Maybe that's a weird energetic thing, but it matters to me. Beyond the product, I want this business to have meaning and purpose. For every Wild Paws mat sold, we plant a tree with Matt Smith and HomeTree Ireland, and our latest mat, Lunar Paws, donates to the ocean by supporting the work of Sea Shepherd.

To me sustainability means to be connected to the real. We’ve plonked a very strange, very fake “world" on top of Mother Earth. A world, which invented a single use substance that can’t break down. A world, which values “new new new” and “now now now”. Everything seems disposable and to serve an instant gratification. It's not our fault, we were born into these norms, but I feel like it's all too fast. When we slow down, we see things for what they are, we connect with them and see the nature underneath it all. And once we see it again, it can’t be unseen and we don’t want to hurt it. Slowing down also helps us make better choices in all aspects of our lives, including remembering our keep cups and realising that the weird neon dress that the internet is telling us we need isn’t really us and we don’t need it to be more. Better choices build into a kind rebellion.

IN ADDITION TO TRADITIONAL YOGA PROPS, YOU HAVE ALSO LAUNCHED THE YOGI BARE ACUPRESSURE MAT AND PILLOW. HOW DO YOU USE THESE?

So, if Acupuncture is “puncturing” pressure points with fine needles, then acupressure is applying pressure non evasively. Acupressure restores balance to the body’s energy flow (qi) by manipulating the body’s meridians. Stimulating energy, vitality and a sense of well being in the body. The gentle, painless pressure of the mat allows the body to relax and release endorphins, creating a life force within the body. When using the mat you will feel a sense of elation inviting happiness, energy and calm into your day.

The Yogi Bare Acupressure sets are a wonderful compliment to a meditation/yoga practice. For an extra treat and to really melt into your relaxation, light a candle, position your legs up the wall and drop a few essential oils on to the mat – our favourite is Geranium for anxiety!

For energy:

We love the sensation of the mat on our feet to stimulate the reflexology points and nerve endings resulting in an energy boost. Perfect for tired sore legs or lethargy.

For sleep + back pain:

Lie on the mat and position the pillow in the neck crevice behind the head. Allow your shoulder blades to drop down your back towards your tailbone and melt into the mat. Enjoy the feelings of the muscles in the back being stimulated and releasing.

See our range of Yogi Bare Mats and props > 

yogi bare acupressure mat

CAN WE EXPECT ANY OTHER EXCITING PRODUCT EXPANSIONS IN THE NEAR FUTURE?

You betcha! But I wouldn't want to spoil all the fun surprises on the way! 

WHICH YOGA PROPS ARE ESSENTIAL FOR YOUR PRACTICE?

A grippy yoga mat for sure. It always used to blow my mind that in yoga we often dedicate our practice and learnings to connect with nature and the planet, yet we’d practice on plastic rectangles - it didn't make sense to me. By creating eco friendly, biodegradable natural rubber mats we are not only offering a bit of planet kindness, but also a naturally grippy surface. You can actually melt away into your movement when you don’t have to worry about slipping and sliding. I call the mats magic carpets because when you can get out of distractions and into your body, you can transport yourself anywhere in your practice.

My personal favourite is our Lunar Paws + the Paws X which gives me even more freedom to move and play with its extra space.

yogi bare paws

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO ANYONE STARTING THEIR YOGA JOURNEY?

If you have kind and compassionate thoughts, you do yoga. If you move, you already do yoga. If you breathe, you already do yoga. If you feel your heart lift in nature, you are already doing it just right. Yoga simply means “to unite”, it is all about connection; with our bodies, with our minds, with one another and with the wider world. There is a style of yoga out there to suit everyone, just because you tried one dessert one time it doesn’t mean you will never like dessert (dessert is great!). Yoga is about taking what you need, when you need it, it should be a compliment to your life and hobbies. Don’t ever be hard on yourself for being stiff or tight if those feelings came from doing what you love - like running or even watching films. If those sensations come from doing something that makes you blissfully happy, yoga will keep you doing them for many years to come in a happier body.

Yoga is freedom through intimacy. It's connecting with your 'You'. The 'You' underneath all the stuff, all the expectations and roles. And man, that person is so worth getting to know.

FINALLY, TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF!

Your hometown?

London. I still get that Love Actually feeling walking around the city, especially early on a Sunday morning before London wakes up.

Favourite way to sweat?

Looking at pictures of Tom Hardy.

Favourite way to chill out?

Looking at pictures of Tom Hardy and his dog.