Combining eco issues and a love for yoga, Anupama gives us details about how she got involved bringing yoga products to South Africa under the Billy the Bee label.
Being from India, I was accustomed to very colourful environments, and gorgeous natural fabrics. I was a little disheartened to see the limited (and costly) choices available for the eco-yogi in South Africa. I was aching to bring some of our beautiful culture here with products and accessories that aren't dull or drab and are easier on the environment.
Billy the Bee was born out of the principles of Hinduism and Buddhism which offer acceptance, freedom of expression and physical and spiritual healing.
From the start, I wanted a brand for the soulful, fun loving yogi, aware of the footprint they are leaving behind. We don't preach about how to express your spirituality, how frequently you meditate or how many times you want to practice yoga. All we want is to provide beautiful accessories that help in your quest to get there.
Our limited edition collections are refreshed every year and chosen because they contain no, or fewer toxins and chemicals. We personally check the factories they come from to ensure fair trade principles are adhered to. Affordability is high on our list and most of our products can be used in multiple ways, for example, all mats can be used for yoga, meditation, pilates or even as rugs for the beach or floor. Likewise, all our meditation cushions can be used as yoga, meditation props or as spiritual d'cor to bring a sense of peace to your surroundings.
We also give back to the community whenever possible. Last year we initiated a project to help Kiran, a young mother of two, who left her husband after years of abuse. Kiran was training in a non-profit organization as a seamstress. Even though her skills were at beginner level, her story touched our heart and we commissioned 100 yoga mat bags from her at fair-trade prices. We got overwhelming support from our customers and the bags were sold out in a month. Customers saw beyond the shaky seams, the slightly off center buttons to the fighting spirit the bags signified and went all out to buy them.
I grew up with meditation as a part of daily life. My mom would chant the holy Gayatri mantra with us every night before going to bed for protection. Every time I felt nervous, disheartened or afraid of anything or anyone, the Gayatri mantra became my sanctuary, a place where I would be safe, powerful and protected. I started meditating regularly. Personally, I try and practice 'living as close to nature' as much as possible. I am conscious of what goes in my body (food wise and body and household products), I am aware of using products with firm principles and don't use any products tested on animals. Our fridge and pantry is free from processed foods, MSG, preservatives and unnatural ingredients.
My two favourite beauty tips include a face mask I use at least once a week and a hair nourishing treatment.
Mix together a teaspoon of raw honey, 1 tablespoon chickpea flour, 1 pinch of turmeric, a few drops of lemon juice and a little water or unsweetened yoghurt to make a paste. Apply all over your face and leave for at least 10 minutes.
Coconut oil is my saving grace. Once a week I saturate my hair with oil and leave it on overnight.
Follow Anupama's tips when choosing a yoga mat >
I always recommend buying a natural personal yoga mat. Shared mats are a breeding ground for bacteria unless they are cleaned well after every use.
Cotton yoga rug: 100% natural cotton rugs (or dhurries) with AZO, toxin and lead free dyes are made for yoga practice, the traditional Indian way. They are handcrafted using an extremely dense weave which creates natural friction and grip. These are recommended for any yogi who wants to do yoga the traditional Indian way and good for Astanga yoga. They also get heavier and sturdier the more you sweat, so if you don't mind cleaning it after every class, they also work for hot yoga. They can be used for meditation, as rugs around your home or meditation space, or at the beach. Billy the Bee Cotton Yoga Rug
Asoka eco mat: Asoka mat provides the strength, durability and performance required for yoga practice, without using any toxic materials during production. I would recommend this for yogis who just cannot live without adequate cushioning and the 'stickiness' these mats provide. Asoka Eco Mat
Earth yoga mat
This is a 100% plant based mat made from jute (a natural plant fiber), from plant based dyes and with a natural rubber backing. This mat is the ultimate eco-warrior mat and based on the yogi principle of 'connecting' to the earth. A lot of thought has gone into this mat, from the material chosen to the feel of the mat and the thickness. All these elements are designed to take you back to the roots of yoga and promote the flow of energy between you and the elements during your practice. This mat purposefully doesn't provide cushioning so as not to interfere between you and the earth's surface and so is not recommended for beginner yogis. Beginners can use this mat on top of another mat then gradually wean off when you are comfortable using it without cushioning. Billy the Bee Jute Yoga Mat
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