Photos courtesy Big Raven Yoga
Big Raven Yoga’s most popular mat is one of owner Joleen Emery’s own personal favorites. It says, “I am obsessed with being a woman comfortable in my own skin.”
Emery, a Twin Cities native, was uneasy practicing yoga after a bad accident broke her leg. She couldn’t work for eight months, underwent four surgeries, and spent her first yoga practice crying. She longed for the comfort she used to feel before the accident.
Emery started Big Raven Yoga to help women connect to their yoga practice and find joy. The most stunning quality is the eye-catching designs. Big Raven Yoga prints everything from floral patterns to Frida Kahlo. These mats act as an accessory and a boost to yoga practice. With multiple designers and lines of mats, Big Raven Yoga hopes customers can find a design that resonates with them.
Practicality joins beauty in the mat’s composition. Mats are heavier and a millimeter thicker than a standard mat, so they cushion joints. The mats are also machine-washable, and the color won’t chip or fade.
Emery knew she needed a special yoga mat when she accidentally took someone else’s home. More importantly, someone took her mat home—the one she used daily with all the handprints and marks she cherished like a beautiful patina. She wanted a mat that was uniquely hers, but after a thorough search of online retailers, she realized it didn’t exist. Her husband encouraged her to create her own mat, and thus, Big Raven Yoga was born.
Named for the symbolism she finds in the eponymous birds (she sees them as faithful, wise, and a bit playful; capable but underestimated, which she connects to some people’s view of women), Emery views her brand as an opportunity to empower women. Recently, Emery has started a few new projects, including working with brides to make custom mats for bridal parties, and getting into philanthropy through a line of mats designed for five nonprofit organizations, with a portion of proceeds benefitting each one.
Emery says she’s back to her level of strength and flexibility she had before the accident, but most importantly, she’s back to a good sense of self and growing in her yoga practice and business.