I recently had the pleasure of meeting Dana McKenzie, founder of Fifth Breath and creator of the first ever Wool Yoga Mat. An idea that came about due to the misalignment of traditional PVC yoga mats with yogi principles, this concept immediately piqued my interest. I couldn’t help but think of my old exercise mat that I use at home, desparately in need of replacing. Did you know that these traditional mats are made from a petroleum-derived synthetic that end up in landfills and do not biodegrade for 200 years? Not only has Fifth Breath created a wonderful, natural alternative that is fully biodegradable and renewable, wool has many properties that make it the ideal natural fibre for use as a yoga mat. Antibacterial, odour resistant and non-allergenic, it is also moisture wicking and able to retain constant temperature.
Born in Romania, Dana moved to New Zealand with her Kiwi husband four years ago after living abroad for over 20 years, mostly in the United States, France, Switzerland and Italy. Through her husband’s farming family she learnt how wool was under appreciated, pushed out of the market by synthetic fibres. Knowing that something must be done about this beautiful, natural fibre Dana eventually left behind her corporate roles as a computer engineer to focus on her entrepreneurial career. Discovering that the felting would have to be done in Europe, and not wanting to travel all the time, the mother of four eventually joined forces with a friend in Europe, and Fifth Breath was born.
Dana explained that while the mats are made entirely from New Zealand wool, they are manufactured in Germany because there are no longer felting manufacturers here in New Zealand. A felting company was found in Germany and a non-toxic coating is applied to the top of the mat. The wool is sourced through the New Zealand Merino Company, and market innovation general manager Jarrod Patrick said the company was very excited to be working with Fifth Breath. Not only did it share NZM’s passion and understanding of the beneficial attributes of wool, but it also embodied the shift in consumer behaviour towards sustainable, ethically sourced products.
Made from a blend of stronger wool types selected for abrasion resistance, durability and pilling resistance, the Fifth Breath mat has a finer wool used on top for comfortable skin contact. I immediately noticed the cushioning surface and it also has a non-toxic coating added in key areas to prevent it slipping on floors, and to give hands and feet added grip.
Once the mat reaches its end of life, it can be repurposed or upcycled. When finally disposed of, the mat and its coating are biodegradable. Dana said the mat could even be put into compost.
Styling and photography by Michelle Halford for TDC
With life being incredible busy (I know you can all relate), taking time out to exercise and stretch at home is a luxury, but it’s also a necessity for my physical and mental health. I feel so much happier using a mat that is made from ethically sourced fibre. A dream to use, I also love that it looks beautiful and fits in so well with our home’s aesthetic. Definitely a whole new experience, I think this mat would make the most incredible Christmas present. Start dropping hints ladies!
For more information including a list of FAQ’s, and to order a wool mat, visit Fifth Breath.
This post was created in collaboration with Fifth Breath. I only work with products I love and all opinions are my own. For more information please visit my About Page.