Some Like It Hot: Naturally-Dyed Hot Yoga Apparel

Green, Denise
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Yoga is a discipline that emerged on the Indian subcontinent thousands of years ago, with the earliest origins recorded in Vedic texts (c. 1200 BCE) and more formalized written accounts in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (c. 500 CE). While there are eight limbs of yoga, the Western world is most familiar with asana, also known as Hatha Yoga, which is the physical practice of yoga asanas (body postures). Over the past 50 years, numerous forms of Hatha Yoga have grown in popularity in the West. According to Statista, it was estimated that approximately 15 million U.S. Americans practiced hatha yoga in 2008, a number that increased to 24.5 million in 2015 and is projected to grow to 55 million in 2020. As the number of yoga practitioners in the United States continues to grow, so too will the demand for apparel that meets the needs of yoga asana practice. Researchers H. Jason (2014) and S. Park (2016) have found that yoga practitioners are demanding for more sustainable active wear. This is a challenge for practitioners of hot yoga (e.g., Bikram Yoga) because the room is typically heated to 105F/40C and 40% relative humidity. This results in profuse sweating; therefore, natural and renewable fibers like cotton and linen are rendered impractical because they retain water weight rather than wick moisture away from the body. This design was conceptualized to meet both the needs and sustainability desires of hot yoga practitioners. Without abandoning synthetic fibers, this design sought to improve the sustainability of hot yoga clothing in two ways: (1) by using natural dyes from plants to color the textiles using a contact dyeing (eco-printing) technique; and (2) by creating a design that used a minimal amount of fabric and could incorporate fabric scraps to reduce waste.