One Half Of Akasha Yoga Pieces Talks Conscious Shopping And Sustainable Lifestyles
Tell us about your journey to starting Akasha?
Luke and I left Sydney over two years ago to explore the world and found ourselves captivated by a small idyllic village in Guatemala, located on the shores of Lake Atitlan. It’s a very spiritual place and we found ourselves deeply exploring our connection to yoga, through regular yoga practice, mediation and many of the workshops offered in town. With my background in design and Luke’s natural eye for beauty and craftsmanship, we had long been admiring the ancient Mayan weaving techniques of the region and really wanted to honour and preserve this vanishing art form. Not only that, but we became integral members of the community we lived in, volunteering at a local nutrition centre, where it became intensely clear, the endless struggles that many Guatemalans face everyday. We became passionate about supporting this community, our friends, in a sustainable way and bringing awareness to the importance of conscious shopping, back home. So all of these elements came together, as if the stars were aligned! We hired a local women’s co-operative of around four women, a screen printer, a photographer’s assistant, two tailors, not to mention all of the amazing women who we bought the vintage straps from every week at the market. Our dream is for the business to succeed so that we can hire these incredibly skilled people on a permanent basis. Weaving is a way for Guatemalan’s to celebrate their culture and express their identity and we’re so honoured to be able to share this unique beauty with the world.
What does “conscious shopping” mean to you?
"Conscious Shopping" means taking an extra moment to think about the effect that your purchases will have – on your own wellbeing, on the people who produce the products and on the environment. We are all by now familiar with the concept that every time you spend your money you are casting a vote and I think this is so important to take a moment and consider where your money is going, in today’s world of fast consumerism.
What do you do on a daily basis that you find keeps your life on track in a holistic way?
Being on the road and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be quite challenging. I always carry my Akasha yoga strap yoga and mat with me everywhere I go. Long flights and bus journeys, and uncomfortable beds can take their toll, mentally and physically, so it’s important to make time for my practice. Running is the “yang” to my yoga and it’s also a great way to get to know a new town, seeing it come to life in the early hours of the day. In terms of diet, I always pack fish oil and spiralina tablets. We carry a steri-pen, to ensure we drink plenty of water (without adding to landfill). When we’re in one place for longer than a few weeks, I love making my own fermented foods like apple cider vinegar or kimchi. I’m a strong advocate for the benefits of fermentation. I also try to make sure I have a green juice daily – it’s the easiest way to ensure I get a good dose of raw green veggies. More recently I’ve started keeping a journal. I find this is a great way for me to reflect on my day, which normally I don’t make enough time to do. I also like to start my entries with two things that I’m grateful for that day.
Who was your great mentor/teacher?
I don’t have one exactly. I find every teacher I practice with inspires me in some unique way.
What obstacles has developing your practice helped you overcome in your own life?
After returning home from two years of travel, I found myself feeling unsettled and lost, struggling to find my place back "home". I experienced so many up's and downs, and then just a lot of downs. The only thing that pulled me out of it was committing myself to thirty days of yoga. The first week was difficult, but then after that hurdle I felt so strong, mentally and physically. I know people talk a lot about the benefits of yoga, but it really is such a powerful practice for your mind, body and soul.
How do you remain authentic within a commercial world?
It’s really difficult and I question myself, and my motives all of the time. But the question I regularly ask myself is, if I weren’t doing what I’m doing, how many lives would be adversely affected? And I think of all of the people we work with in Guatemala and how we have empowered them, and that really gives me motivation and grounding.
Tell us about your company and where we can find you?
Akasha Yoga Pieces is a yoga accessory company, 100% made in Guatemala using up-cycled traditional women's belts that employ ancient Mayan weaving techniques. Each piece is one-of-a-kind, celebrating and preserving this ancient art form and carrying the stories of its creator within every thread. Akasha Yoga straps are not only a stylish way to transport your mat to-and-from-class, but they’re also a useful tool to incorporate into your practice. Whether you're a beginner or an enlightened yogi, Akasha Yoga Straps can help fit a pose to your body, helping you to achieve correct yoga posture by giving length and support to poses without compromising your alignment You can find us online www.akashayogapieces.com(we now ship to the U.S.) and at Nimble Activewear Bondi Beach and Body Mind Life studios across Sydney.
Where is your favourite place to nourish yourself?
San Marcos La Laguna, Guatemala will always hold a special place in my heart. There are just so many amazing therapies on offer there, from iridology to cacao ceremonies to abdominal massage and every form of yoga you could desire. Back home in Sydney, there’s nothing better than spending time at our favourite secret beach locations – I truly believe in the healing powers of the ocean and the sun.
How do you morally react to practicing new age spirituality and using western medicine?
I’m really focused on living a healthy lifestyle, eating well and keeping active, so that I don’t have a need for western medicine. This of course may change, but I think it’s important for me to do everything I can to avoid Western medicine. For example, rather than seeking anti-depressants earlier in the year when I was feeling lost, I signed up to yoga instead. Another example is that I’ve always had a sensitive stomach, but I found that a diet rich in fermented foods cured this.
What led you to seek healthcare opportunities outside of traditional western medicine?
I guess it has just been a slow process of becoming educated in alternative remedies and therapies, in addition to an underlying connection to these practices.
Describe a typical day (or week) of work for you.
That’s a tricky one, because none of my days/weeks are ever the same! But for example, when we’re living in Guatemala and building the Akasha collection, my day consists of a morning yoga class by the lake or an early morning run. Then I pass through town and pick up some fresh produce to make breakfast with. Maybe I’ll be lucky enough to run into some of the kids I volunteer with on their way to school. Then I might head over to the markets in the next village to source new straps, or visit our tailor to check his progress. If I have time I might bake some bread or go and visit Konojel a charity we volunteer with, providing 60 meals a day to the towns most in-need followed by after school activities. And in the afternoon I’ll head to a café and check emails and orders (we don’t have internet in the house).
What do you think will be considered the hottest holistic specialties developing over the next decade?
I’m really feeling a strong shift towards a more sustainable lifestyle. This means slowing down, disconnecting from technology and being mindful of the impact our lives have to the planet and to our fellow humans. So whether this comes through meditation or yoga, moving away from Western medicine and towards a more natural approach to health, and a greater understanding of where our of food comes from, which may in-turn promote self sustainability.