In Vancouver, we take our yoga seriously. The numerous yoga classes offered around the city are almost always filled to the brim, and the many fit people walking our streets, with yoga mats in tow, prove it. But if you’re like me, discovering my inner yogi didn’t come overnight, nor did it look like the gorgeous flexible yoga buffs we see in a Lululemon ad. It came with a few stumbles, wobbles and the occasional feelings of looking completely silly. That’s why it was so refreshing to come across Vancouver-based yoga apparel and lifestyle brand Inner Fire. With comfortable cotton shirts sporting playful sayings like “I’m Just Here for the Savasana” or “Be a Warrior Not a Worrier”, owner and designer Leah Emmott wanted to create a line that would make people smile, laugh and feel inspired. Now yoga students as far as in Florida have been seen sporting Inner Fire pieces, so I’d say her mandate is definitely catching on.
A yoga teacher herself, Leah began with making heart-shaped meditation pillows and yoga-mat bags for a small number of her family and friends. They became such a hit she began experimenting with screen-printing on shirts in her living room, all containing messages aimed at taking away the seriousness that often plagues yoga. Inspired by the growing attention to her pieces from yoga students and social media, she officially launched Inner Fire, and now her yoga wear can be purchased online, at various yoga studios, and through the retail co-op Giving Gifts and Company(4570 Main Street).
The shirts in Inner Fire’s “Laughing Yoga” collection have become real conversation starters, and are still Leah’s best sellers. But now Inner Fire has expanded to include leggings and infinity scarves that have vibrant West Coast-themed prints Leah designs herself before sending them to be manufactured in East Vancouver. Her screen-printed shirts however, are still done by her own hands, so no shirt is exactly the same. If supporting local design wasn’t already incentive enough to check out Inner Fire, then perhaps knowing that partial proceeds from every Inner Fire purchase goes towards The School Fund, helping give students in the developing world an education. Inner Fire’s name was derived from the idea of igniting the inner fire that Leah says exists in all of us. Sometimes we can do it on our own, other times we need that extra helping hand, which in this case, can simply start from what we wear.
You can view and purchase all of Inner Fire’s collection online at myinnerfire.com.
Anyone who says that savasana isn’t one of their favourite yoga poses either has ADD or is a bald-faced liar. But here’s the thing: there’s nothing to be ashamed of—lying there like a corpse is actually an important part of the practice. Yet few people come clean (to their instructors anyway) about how much they look forward to this mindful and nourishing rest at the end of class. Well, now they can let their shirts do the talking.
Vancouver yoga teacher Leah Emmott has designed a line of athletic tops that read “I’m Just Here for the Savasana,” and these tanks ($29.95), Ts ($29.95), baseball shirts ($34.95), and pullovers ($49.95), which come in a variety of colours, are selling faster than gym memberships in January.
“Initially, it was like, ‘I don’t know if anyone else will want to wear this, but I want to wear it,’ ” says Emmott, who recently sat down with the Straight at her retail space in the Giving Gifts & Company co-op store (4570 Main Street)—which, incidentally, boasts 11 different venders and local artisans. “So I just started making them and people were like, ‘That’s so awesome.’ ”
This foray into yoga-wear fashion started back in late 2011. After undergoing emergency surgery to remove an ovarian cyst, the active yogi was basically bedridden during the recovery process.
“I was like, ‘Okay, my life is on hold for the next six weeks,’ ” Emmott recalls. “But it allowed me to actually just sit down and go back to some of the things I wanted to do, which was being creative. So I started sewing.”
This led to handcrafting heart-shaped meditation pillows and yoga-mat bags as gifts for her friends and family. Around this time, she also got into screen-printing cute messages like the aforementioned “Savasana” slogan on premade blank tops. Once back at work, her pieces began gaining a fair bit of attention from yoga students and social-networking platforms. She soon realized she might be on to something with this light-hearted approach to yoga wear and decided to make it official by launching Inner Fire.
Since then, her label—which she sells through the co-op, online ( myinnerfire.com/), and via several local studios—has expanded beyond her “Laughing Yoga” collection (although “I’m Just Here for the Savasana” is still her top seller). Standouts include the super-soft, bamboo-blend infinity scarves that boast beautiful prints like Dark Forest, Deer, and Grey Birds ($44.95 each)—perfect to wear in drafty studios. She’s also ventured into luxuriously shiny, West Coast–themed leggings ($69.95). Like the scarves and bags, these stretchy bottoms are handcrafted from beginning to end right here in Vancouver, something that’s been a bit of a learning process for this self-taught seamstress.
“When you’re starting out making something from scratch without a fashion-design background, there’s always little hurdles because you’re always learning about things like gussets and waistbands and stuff like that,” says Emmott.
She’s also added more tops, including the Inspiration collection. Here, we have the same racerbacks, lightweight sweat tops, V-neck Ts, and baseball Ts, only this time, they sport yogi words of wisdom such as “Be a Warrior Not a Worrier,” “Practice Makes Practice,” and “I Am Enough”—the latter mantra being one of Emmott’s personal faves.
“When I’m feeling really crappy about my life, I put this shirt on,” she says, “and then I’m like, ‘Okay, it’s all good.’ ”