HOMies - more than a yoga mat, more like a soul mat(e). Laura Lopez Castro on her adventure of making a sacred business vision come true.

I have been practicing and teaching yoga for many years now, and one thing that has always struck me was a sort of discrepancy between the values of the traditional yoga philosophy and the way many of us practice yoga in modern Western societies. I felt – and keep feeling – that yoga is very much about consciousness: consciousness about ourselves, the environment and everything in it, and our connection to it. And yet, I often felt that there I was, celebrating intimate encounters between my body and mind on toxic mats, mass-fabricated under dubious working conditions in Taiwan, China or Vietnam. I felt that my yoga equipment should be more than just a simple accessory to some random physical exercise. I wanted it to reflect my respect towards my self and the things around me.

I also realized that there were literally no yoga mats with decent, stylish or halfway beautiful designs out there, only cheesy sunsets, cliché mandalas or cheap laser-prints with awfully nasty colors. Instead, I thought, the designs should be handcrafted artworks like symmetrical African print patterns – simple structures, slender signature motives that you might even consider hanging on your wall like a piece of art. All in all, I was imagining yoga mats that would have a much more handcrafted and earthy touch to them, and hence feel a little less like a mass product, and more like an individual and unique companion in my very personal spiritual endeavors. More like a soul mat(e), a tiny piece of home to carry with me.

Those were the feelings and ideas behind hOMies yoga mats. But no matter how good the idea or how strong the desire to materialize it, I did not know where to start and how to afford it without mortgaging a house I didn’t even have. As always in my life, the universe ended up giving me the push I needed. I confided my idea to Diana Schreiber, my tax consultant and dear friend in many years in the music business, and we realized that she was the right person in the right time of her life to make a financial move and help me with the tricky numbers and paragraphs. She believed in my idea, and it was at that very moment when I felt that this idea might actually come to life.

The following weeks we invested in setting up the infrastructure for the high ambitions that came with the feelings and ideas described above, and I am glad to say that it feels much more like winning great friends and extremely gifted people for a joint community project than just contracting business partners. The first three designs will be done by myself, the wonderful soul singer Joy Denalane and the incredible street artist Superblast. Our mats are entirely manufactured in South-Germany, toxic-free, and manually silkscreen printed with eco-friendly colors in Munich by Max Strasser. Our mats are a bit like vinyl records: The designs will be strictly limited to a certain amount of copies, and the manual printing process results in every mat being slightly different from the one before.

Just this week, Joy Denalane, Diana Schreiber and myself officially became business partners and co-founders of our hOMies brand. That makes three powerful women at the forefront of this project, each equipped with the skills to complement the talents of the other two. And all of this made me stick to my original idea of baptizing this project “hOMies”. Because a good yoga mat is more than just a piece of textile, because this brand is a joint effort by a family of people from different artistic and technical backgrounds, and finally, because we are all yoga hOMies, practicing a traditional Asian form of physical and mental exercise and adapting it to our Western lifestyles in modern metropolis.

...and Earthwalking Festival is delighted to feature hOMies! We feel honoured by the trust Laura places in us to be the trial run forum of hOMies. We offer the opportunity to our festival crowd to try a bunch of hOMies prototype mats in practice. Come to the Marketplace in the Eden Foyer and grab one – and be quick about it!