The Original Hot Yoga Towel
Yoga With Style features some amazing designers emerging and gaining a huge following in the hot yoga market. Bikram lovers covet their fave products and openly share what they like and don’t like out in the blogasphere, twitter, and facebook. We have been lucky to connect with a few of these designers and carry them in our online store and in our Greenlawn, New York boutique.
One designer, Henry Mah, is the creator of Baktuli – The Original Style Towel (and P.S. there are a lot of copy cats out there – but Baktuli is the IT brand!). His designs both inspire, delight and always make us smile every time we use them. The towels perform wonderfully in every way while still being created and manufactured with the environment in mind and all that we as yogis deem important. That’s because of the passion within Henry and his spirit which lies behind all that Baktuli represents. Here’s a bit about our friend and fellow yogi Henry:
YWS: When did you decide to design hot yoga towels?
HM: I decided to design stylish towels three years ago, I spent time doing research into different types of fabrics and finally settled on cotton.
YWS: Where (or how) did you train?-
HM: My art career began in 1995 and I started my yoga practice in 2000 with Bikram. My yoga practice currently includes hot yoga (mostly ashtanga or Bikram), Yin, Anusara and power. I also try to meditate every day.
YWS: How did your training influence you?
HM: Creating fine art is business on a level that really encourages you pay attention to the details. The skill of creating something that is subjectively thought as being visually perfect, helps with maintaining quality when it is being produced by a factory. I like creating beautiful things that have conceptual meaning behind it.
YWS: Where do you get your ideas?
HM: Ideas are constantly flowing. I have what I think are great ideas all the time, but part of the process of actualization is really trusting yourself and moving towards those ideas that have the biggest potential for growth. In consideration of time spent towards an idea, I have to think about how each action impacts my social, spiritual, health, finances and interest level.
YWS: What artist or artists inspired or inspires you currently?
HM: My previous occupation was a fine art photographer, so many of my influences tend to be fine art based. For many years I worked with Jeff Wall, a Vancouver photographer who is known internationally. He very much pays attention to details. I like cutting edge work, or at least groundbreaking at the time. Some of the better known artists that I admire are Basquiat, Andy Warhol and Henri-Carter Bresson. For sculpture I like Jeff Koons work, it’s very playful. For the sheer pleasure of text, Barbara Kruger. Nowadays I read a lot of business books, there is a world of helpful information from people who have struggled and found answers, even universal truths.
YWS: Is there any symbolic imagery in your work?
HM: I use the happy face in one of my towels as well as on the back of the hangtag. The happy face, more predominantly seen in text messaging these days symbolizes universally happiness and affection. For the words I imprint on the towels, they are positive sayings and are often inspired from popular culture. As opposed to seeing positive quotes on the computer or hanging on the wall in an office, the mantras on my towels are front and centre, which in a sense is a constant reinforcement for the duration of the practice. That is a social/spiritual goal of this business, to leave the world a more positive place. Since we use a towel every day, it really is the gift that keeps on giving : )
YWS: What helped to shape you (can be anything)?
HM: This is a difficult question to answer in one paragraph but essentially everything inspires. The ad on a magazine last week, the friend who doesn’t give you what you want, the motivational speaker on the ipod, the girl who does a headstand in class, walking through the streets of London. Inspiration is everywhere, you just have to be open to receiving. If there is a general theme towards inspiration, it would be anything that I feel benefits humanity as a whole.
YWS: What are your favorite materials and colors to work with?
HM: I like using natural fibers as long as the process to get them is somewhat ecological. I tend to stay away from man made materials like polyester or microfiber. Not only are these fibers strange to the touch, often times they are harmful for the environment. My colours are determined on how they move me emotionally. I consider colour fields associated with Chakras. Fashion trends also have some influence on what I create.
YWS: Do you practice yoga or meditation and what type etc. How does yoga affect or inspire your designs?
HM: Yoga affects my designs because I try and think of how to create the perfect product by my own practice. When I started this project, it was important to me to have something that was stylish, comfortable and flexible (like yoga poses!). To clarify, the cotton used was an ideal weight for absorption and not too heavy to take to the studio. It also had to be fast drying. If I only sweated on part of the towel during practice, but still needed to dry off with it after the shower, I considered that too. It had to be the perfect size, so it completely covers the mat. This is so fingers and toes don’t hang over the edge and it creates a perfect seal around the body when in Savasana. The towel had to be stink-free when doing poses which is why the Microban was added, this also helps if I didn’t do laundry for a couple days and have to use the same towel.
YWS: What do you see in your future as an artist and what things do you wish to work on down the line? Or what products will be offering next?
HM: Baktuli’s vision is to create fashionable towel products for the athletic market. At home it’s nice to match towel colours to the bathroom fixtures and walls but so often we see people who want to look and feel their best at the gym or yoga studio. Definitely some exciting things to come in 2011!
Henry, you inspire us. Thank you for this quick glimpse into your creative process and world. We have so much gratitude for our connection with you and your designs!
Check out the VALENTINES Baktuli “I Heart Yoga towel Giveaway” on Yoga With Style! Sending out our love to our customers and our love for Baktuli – winner selected February 14, 2011!