Founder Dana McKenzie & Irina Arya FIFTH BREATH
I loved yoga from the first moment I stepped on my mat, but the mat itself filled me with horror. How could I enjoy a practice rooted in non-harm knowing I was practicing on a toxic and non-biodegradable material? Using my experience as an engineer I decided to do something about it.
As an engineer, I look for solutions that are not immediately obvious. I’d first discovered the incredible properties of wool on a fire-proof work project. Not only did it require higher oxygen levels to burn, it was also a complete natural fibre: antibacterial, moisture wicking (managing odour), non-allergenic, biodegradable and renewable, not to mention soft and beautiful. I realised that all these attributes lined up with what I wanted in a yoga mat. The idea for the Fifth Breath mat was born.
Although there were plenty of sheep in New Zealand, and I was able to source a beautiful strong but soft wool through the New Zealand Merino Company, I hit a snag when I realised all the felt-makers were in Europe. As a mother-of-four I just couldn't travel all the time and I had to pause the project.
That’s where my old friend Irina stepped into the picture. Living in Europe, she helped me find a felting company in Germany and somewhere to apply a non-toxic coating on top of the mat for added grip.
We launched at the OM Yoga Show in 2017, which is where we met Lucy and David of YogaClicks. The general public had never seen wool yoga mats before and it was so exciting to see such an enthusiastic reaction to a natural fibre product, embodying as it does the yoga community’s love of sustainable, ethically sourced products.
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