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May 8 2018

Sahaja – Luxury Eco Friendly Yoga Mats, That Give Back

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I was born in Taiwan and grew up on the Gold Coast, Australia when my family immigrated there.  I moved to Sydney when I was 21 and there I found yoga. From my first class in 2003, I was in love and knew that I was going to teach yoga for the rest of my life.  I moved overseas in 2005 to do my first 500 hour yoga teaching training.  I planned to stay overseas for a year, teach travel and experience life, that turned into 10 years, living and teaching in the USA, Canada, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia and India.  I moved back home to the Gold Coast end of 2014, after some life events and needed to be home with family to help me heal.

What exactly is Sahaja Yoga Mats?

We are a social enterprise  that was created to give to others and to be more than ourselves. You could say we are a yoga mat company that gives back, but we are so much more then the products.  There is a lot of depth and care in everything we do and the products all have a deeper purpose and meaning. Right now as a small business we only have one product, our amazing yoga mats, but as we grow so will our range and every product will give. So that we are, giving all ways.  We are currently working on new products and connecting with other charities to support them.  Sahaja is about thinking globally but also acting locally.  Supporting where we can around the world and also supporting at home, from the grassroots.  Sahaja is also about to unity, our community, being more than I or me. Its about love, kindness and creating a ripple effect to the world from the giving.  There are so many ways to give to others and hopefully Sahaja will inspire everyone to give in their own way.

What inspired you to start Sahaja Yoga Mats?

I use to have a thin travel yoga mat & towel in one, which was great for rooms that had carpet.  But when I started practicing a different styles of yoga and the studios had wooden or concrete floors,  I realized my old mat didn’t suffice anymore, it was to thin..  So I tried a few different mats and found that 1) the mats wouldn’t last, your hands and feet would wear the mat out and leave bits of the mat around in the studio, 2) the mats would move during my practice  3) when I started to sweat the mat would become slippery so I needed a towel, but then the towel would move on my mat and lastly, they would smell over time. So I  thought why not source my previous yoga mat towel in one, as I didn’t have any of those above issues but make it thicker and so I did.  I am a product of my own products.  I trial each sample and design and used the sample yoga mats for a nearly a year before I decided to go ahead with production.  I leave the yoga mats in my car as well for long periods of time, to test the rubber.  I leave them out in the sun to dry for a few days, front and back, thrown them in the washing machine, camping, yoga festivals, beaches, to test all the different environments to see how the mats would hold up.  The Australian sun is harsh and I can say, that the Sahaja Yoga mats haven’t cracked under the heat yet 😉 .  I also haven’t tested it in the snow yet, so that’s one I still need to do 🙂

Since 2009 I’ve always wanted a yoga studio and a business that gave back to the community like TOMs and who knows I might still one day open a yoga studio, but right now my focus is on spreading the Sahaja love.  But the deeper reason behind how Sahaja came to be, was from own yoga journey.  It lead me to a very dark place and into therapy but yoga is also what helped heal me from the trauma.  I received a lot of love, support during my darkest days and Sahaja is my way of paying forward all the love and light that I received during those times.  The seeds for Sahaja were also planted during my Prana Vinyasa Yoga teacher trainings with Shiva Rea. A part of the requirements are book reports and a seva project .  The original mat designs are my book reports and the giving of light  is my lifetime Seva project, which I feel very blessed to be able to do.  A lot of people ask me about why I chose to give light.  The light is symbolic.  We give physical light but its about bringing light into peoples lives, about lighting each other up.  The receivers and the givers.

How did you come up with the name?

My yoga teacher, Shiva Rea inspired the name. 🙂  When I first started on the yoga path, I came from a lineage that was very hard, militant and unfortunately turned out to be very abusive.   The first time I heard the word Sahaja was in August 2014 in my training when I first met Shiva and it was completely foreign to me.  I was like Sa ha what?  Lol

Saa Haa Jaa means effortless, spontaneous, in the flow, inherently natural, who you are at your inner being.   I was so controlled by my last yoga teacher and always told what to do, when to move, that when I was given this moment of listening to myself and moving how I wanted to or how my body needed to move, I was lost. During our Prana Vinyasa classes there are many magical moments where Sahaja comes in to play, a time of free form movement of moving how you want to move at that present moment, to explore your own truths and it melts my heart seeing students or people move in Sahaja.  You see their heart, you see them, you see pure love and joy.   I incorporated a lot of Sahaja into my practices, during my darkest days and it was very healing for me. So Sahaja was borrn fom a place or darkness to bring light to others 🙂

Where are your products sold? Are they sold in stores?

Our products are mostly sold online at www.sahajayogamats.com, but we do have stockiest through Australia and they will soon be sold in the USA:

You can find them at Life Synergy Acupuncture in Burleigh Heads, Freedom Float Centre, Blockout Robina, Essence of Living Mermaid beach, heat wave hot yoga studios- Cabarita, Kingscliff and Murwillumbah and now in Byron Bay at Space Foundation Yoga Studio.

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What is your favorite part about running Sahaja Yoga Mats?

Meeting and speaking with the light givers.  I am still sometime in disbelief that others also love the designs and the visions.  So I feel very blessed and grateful.  I love the deep connections that come from the heart.  They light up my life so much.  Hearing them share and seeing them, brings so much joy to me. They all have soooo much heart and care deeply about living life from an authentic place and making life more than about themselves.  That is what makes Sahaja so special. Oh and as Sahaja was created to give, so many of our sales are people buying the mats to give to others or they were gifted a sahaja yoga mat and now want to on forward that too.  I love that!!  I love hearing the feedback to about how we can keep refining and improving the mat as well.  So interesting to hear others pserpectives and thoughts.

What is your least favorite part about running Sahaja Yoga Mats?

The business side and taking care of the production.  Being heart based, it’s also very challenging for me to be business and analytically. My coaches and friends, always have to remind me to put on my business hat. Lol I’d rather keep creating the design concepts and cultivate deeper heart connections with people lol

Is there a favorite product?

Oh this is hard question.  There are so many beautiful designs, but I do love the Sri Yatri and the Fibonnaci designs.  I love sacred geometry and how intelligent nature and life is.  The designs are all heart with a purpose & so much meaning. The unique designs form organic alignment cues for the mover on the mat. So not only are the yoga mats beautiful, they are also functional.  They also become conversation starters and from there, they’ve lead into eleveated converstaions, which is so beautiful. Raising our vibrations.

You give back with each purchase, can you tell us about that?

One mat = One light.  We buy the solar lights from another Australian business who does a lot of humanitarian aid relief.  They introduced us to Mega Marine Fauna Foundation, a non-profit, based in Mozambique who distribute the lights through their education programs for kids and the lights are given to families who don’t have electricity.   The light drops happen in 500 lots, so fingers crossed we will have our first light drop very soon, we are under 400 lights now.

 How do you spread the word about your company?

We’re very blessed a lot of our business has come from word of mouth and happy light givers.  We also have a lot of referrals through Instagram.

Do you have any advice for fellow entrepreneurs?

If you have that spark, follow it and keep it alight.  Listen to your heart.  Trust in life, in yourself and stay kind, be patient and humble as you watch everything slowly unfold and bloom. Enjoy the peaks and growth but also embrace when things don’t go to planned, as that’s where so much of the beauty and real growth is.  Start ups can be trial and error.  You don’t know unless you try it and get your answer.  Also have compassion for yourself and for others who are starting too.  For me when I was speaking to long term business owners, I felt they forgot what it was like to learn a new skill, to work in another field and expected you to just get it.  So always have compassion and understanding and know it can take time. What comes easy for some, might not necessarily be the same for others.

Do you have a favorite quote or go to saying? 🙂

Gosh so many lol but definitely a favorite is and that aligns for Sahaja is, “Travel light, live light, spread the light, be the light.” By Yogi Bhajan

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

Thank you for the opportunity to share with you and your readers about Sahaja.  Thank you for all you do for others. xx

About She's Fit to Lead

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