Fakers not welcome

Keep it Real: some thoughts (and facts) about Yoga and, ahem, stealing

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Coming out strongly against stealing doesn’t seem like much of a controversial stance, right? Everyone knows that stealing is wrong. It’s codified in every moral code we humans have. It’s punishable by law in every legal system from Hammurabi on down. It’s part of the basic ethical education every parent gives their child: Don’t take what’s not yours. And it certainly couldn’t be a problem in the yoga world, right? Well, contrary to what you might expect, stealing (along with other shady ‘practices’ aplenty) is happening within the yoga community all the time. And it’s time we talked about it. Here’s what you need to know and how you can help put a stop to it.

Asteya and the Modern Yogi

In contemporary yoga, a strong emphasis is placed on following the ‘eight-limbed path’ outlined in The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (likely written in the third century CE), which has become one of the major philosophical texts that is taught as a companion to asana practice.

One of the eight limbs is a moral code, called the yamas, which include satya (truthfulness), ahimsa (non-violence), and asteya, which means non-stealing. As in, stealing is not compatible with a yoga practice. Not even a little. Not metaphorical stealing and definitely not literal stealing.

Teaching around the theme of asteya has a tendency to get a bit abstract. In class, we talk about stealing time from your fellow students by being late or by causing a disruption with your cell phone. Or even robbing yourself by being distracted or not listening to your body.

Probably most have just assumed that the subject of actual stealing is too obvious. How could theft be a problem in the yoga community, where we are all caring, peace-loving, and fair-minded? When we’re all walking each other home and basking in the same high-frequency vibes?

Buyer, Be Aware

Even though, as yogis, we’re all about those vibes, most of us aren’t floating in a bubble on the astral plane just yet. We’re still participants in modern daily life, which means we’re navigating routes through a treacle of moral complexities on the regular. The (increasingly digitized) bombardment of inducements to consume is more prevalent than ever before. Plus, yoga’s enduring popularity has put our community in the crosshairs of businesses looking to cash in on the ‘yoga market’.

The ideals that yoga holds dear can seem to be of little consequence when there is big money at stake. What has, very sadly, emerged is a raft of businesses whose default ‘marketing strategies’ seem to be to serve up lies and misinformation to their customers. It’s especially insidious when the products they make are of little practical use or poorly made (from an ethical, environmental, or whatever other point of view means most to you – you take your pick!). Yes, tragically, even the yoga world is full of alternate facts, made palatable with a gloss of pretty colours and inspirational words.

We’d be hypocrites if we came out against yoga products per se, because, obviously, we’re also in the business of selling yoga products! But just because a company has ‘yoga’ in their name and an Instagram feed full of idyllic imagery doesn’t mean that they aren’t up to bad things behind the scenes. It’s often necessary to dig a little deeper before putting your money down. We recommend you do just that to ensure that the companies you’re supporting align with your core values.

Opening a Can of Satya on Asteya

In the service of this aim, we’re ready to speak some satya (aka truth) on the subject of originality and stealing, and this time, it’s personal. We know that many features of our mat’s design and construction were our own invention because there wasn’t anything that looked or functioned like them before we came along (and by came along, we mean invested the time and hard work into the innovation that makes our Liforme mats exceptional).

We also know that the coolest stuff will always give rise to imitation. Sometimes that means riding on the coattails of true creativity and other times it’s straight up trying to pass off a look-alike as the real thing. At Liforme, we’ve been on the receiving end of both kinds of ‘flattery,’ and while we take the first as a natural byproduct of our hard-earned success, we take the second as a violation.

Don’t get us wrong, we’re all for improving the state of the art. We did not invent the yoga mat; we made a better one by building on what was available when we set out on our development journey. The bar for performance and quality of yoga mats had been set very low, hence we had a lot of innovating to do. We have never tried to take credit for anything we didn’t actually do the hard work to achieve. That’s a big difference between us and some of the businesses that have followed.

Stop, Thief!

For example, if you’re going to say that it took ‘years of research’ to come up with your yoga mat design, be prepared to support that claim. If these words sound familiar, it’s because they come straight from our own product description on our website (in our case, actually backed up by a real product development story involving more prototypes, trips to China, and late night head-scratching than you can imagine).

Over the last couple of years we have witnessed the emergence of a handful of look-alike versions of our mats, including some pretty blatant rip-offs of our signature surface alignment designs. We’ve tried to ignore or take a pragmatic view of this along the way, but it stretches credibility (and forces us to speak out) when we see these businesses literally copy/pasting our own origin story as well as ‘borrowing’ many more of Liforme’s own messages.

It’s particularly disheartening to see these kinds of things happening in the yoga world because we still believe that most people who come to the practice are interested in a righteous path as well as elongated hamstrings. Knock-off products and false marketing narratives are in direct opposition to this intention.

Been Caught Stealing

We’ve been obliged to take a deep dive into the world of counterfeit yoga mats in order to protect our customers from scammers and what we’ve found isn’t at all yogic. We have managed to pinpoint a handful of factories in China that have been producing both direct copies of our product (literally fake mats packaged up as Liforme mats, which of course end up greatly disappointing the poor yogi who opens the box), as well as mats they claim (with absolutely no factual foundation) are the same quality as ours and yet somehow cost much less.

Could their lower prices be the direct result of their patent disregard for the safety and treatment of workers, the toxicity of their materials, and their complete lack of environmental responsibility? Believe us, we know how much it costs to make a mat that lives up to our standards.

We have had success in shutting down one of these factories under threat of criminal proceedings for their illegal production. We have also discovered to our dismay that there are even US- and European-based brands (ones that you may have seen on your social media feeds and getting great (fake) reviews on Amazon) that were also getting their mats (same inferior product, different label) from this same factory.

If You See Something, Say Something

It’s part of our company’s business plan and greater mission to do right by our customers. We want to make the best mat for yoga asana that is also a truly environmentally responsible product that is not going to be unsafe or unhealthy for you to use. We want to do it all with an ethical supply chain and whilst using our sales to finance a significant charitable giving program. It’s not easy, which is why so many other companies cut corners that we find unacceptable.

It’s particularly disturbing to discover unscrupulous marketing and production practices that take advantage of yoga’s popularity by talking the talk but not walking the walk. They know what their customers want to hear but they have nothing to back it up.

Perhaps our world has always been a conniving, back-stabbing, stealing-from-your-neighbor kind of place. That’s why we’ve needed moral codes like the yamas to remind us that we have a better shot at inner peace if we act with integrity. But there have always also been people who prioritize the greater good over individual gain. That’s the kind of company we want to be.

We think that ethical business practices are an area where yoga companies should lead by example. If we believe (and we do) that yoga can foster transformation in individuals and communities, why shouldn’t yoga businesses influence commerce for the better too? With your help, we can.

Speak out when you see these issues. Let’s galvanise the good, honest, ethical spirit in our community to stop tolerating those who stoop way below yoga’s principles.

P.S. If you ever see a product that you think looks like an unreasonable and unfair imitation of our products, please write in to let us know. It’s really useful information and we will be very grateful for it.

Love,

Liv x

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18 replies to

  1. Natacha says:

    It is so disappointing when people take credit for your work! I definitely will report the liforme copy cats of the world… seriously, why!? Think up your own ideas

  2. Martha Haynes says:

    Thank you for helping me understand the asteya of this issue. I love my Liforme mat and it makes me sad to think that people are ripping you off, especially in the name of yoga.

  3. Emily says:

    Thanks for the article, it’s sad to think someone is deliberately ripping off yogis who want your products. I don’t have one of your yoga mats, because they are a bit more expensive than others….this is not a bad thing I just know once I can get my hands on one it will be worth the wait! I know many who say this mat is the best they have ever used. As long as your company keeps sticking to your yogi values the fakers will find karma gets them in the end.

  4. Emilie says:

    Unfortunately, there’s a lot of wrong and bad behaviors! I believe that only the original will succeed because they’re the one with the creation and inspiration. Copycats won’t be able to produce this talent because they’re lazy and just want to steal others’ efforts!

  5. Jessica Louise Parkinson says:

    This is shocking yet not surprising to read. What an absolute shame & disgrace these people are to the name of Yoga. Thank you for speaking out & constantly being such a strong, supportive, ethical company. Those who use you, love you & those of us who have been lucky enough to work with you & chat with your team are so so grateful for you. Jess xx (@musicaltheatreyogi)

  6. Jill m says:

    Very sad, but not surprised. I have a liforme mat and I know many of my yogi friends would love one but cant justify the cost at the moment.
    However, they would not turn to a lower priced copy because they appreciate and understand the pricing is because of the quality of the materials and research that went into making it.
    Its such a shame companies want to cash in and the people who knowingly buy a fake have no integrity and buy from the cheapest supplier. I feel sorry for the people who genuinely think its real and get a fake :(. I will keep my eyes peeled.
    In the long term this will discourage people like the Liforme team dedicating time and effort into developing new items and that makes me sad.

  7. Ashley says:

    Thank you for bringing to light some of the darker issues that are present even in the yoga world. It is unfair that companies that do not have the same ethical principles and moral determination of Liforme are getting away with copy productions and cashing in. I hope that this blog will encourage others to speak up when they see these unfair practices both in manufacturing and everyday life.

  8. Phil Stewart says:

    Great read and good to know!

  9. Kinga Gorski says:

    Gah! I totally understand how frustrating it is to be blatantly copied/imitated/“flattered”/whatever you wanted to call it.

    It’s unfortunate that there are people and businesses always in the lookout to cash in on “the next big thing”, yet the idea/concept was never theirs to begin with.

    Shocking too that some US & European companies are guilty of this thievery as well. I’m sure it was wonderfully satisfying having the one company shut its doors!

    At the end of the day, while we can’t necessarily control the actions of others, at least you know you are abiding by ethical practices and a strong moral code. Thank you for shedding light on this topic and for taking a stand for your heart-centered, truly yogic values!!

  10. circularsmiles says:

    I used to work at an independent retail store focusing on teaching moms to bond with their little ones. People used us to learn all about a product’s use and then bought online. We ended up going under because of it….. My point being.. I completely respect small businesses working hard to put more high quality amazing into the world and anyone that abuses that is shameful. Thank you for everything you do! ❤ 🌎

  11. becky galdo says:

    I’m sorry thay has been happening to you. I feel the ones who are counterfitting the mats are not truly connected to the yoga community or the universal energy that brings us together at all. I hope by this blog post and others sharing, awareness will be spread and those meant to find Liforme will find you. And karma will serve the ones who steal.

  12. Dronus123 says:

    This is one more example of the commoditization of yoga – where people see the opportunity to make a buck and exploit it. Sorry you are experiencing this firsthand.

  13. PC says:

    Ripping off products, be it in the yoga world, fashion industry or elsewhere is never right. It’s always driven by a motivation to make money because they have identified the product they copy to be something that people want. As yogis, but even to be honest, as people with integrity, we should shop responsibly and try to leave the right footprint for our hard earned cash. Money flows like energy in its own ecosystem, carrying with it the energy of the consumer.

    If we can shop more responsibly as a consumer, I believe we can have a far reaching impact practically and energetically, and live more in harmony with others and the world from which we harvest materials.

    It’s nice to read a post from a company that speaks honestly and vulnerably.

    Wishing you lots of love and light 🙂

  14. Lucy D says:

    You are absolutely right: developing a product, all whilst giving credit where credit is due, is so very different than taking a product and slapping a label on it. Granted, I’m not a buisness owner nor creative deleloper, but I can only imaginé how much planning and effort goes into developing a product, and how utterly disappointing it must be to have the product stripped away and disguised by a cheap label. Thank you for mentioning the environmental and social costs of these cheapened prodects too – externalized costs are such a big deal, and it saddens me that they are so often hidden from buyers. So, on behalf of myself and my fellow yogis, thank you for not staying silent about this issue and for making the amazing products that you do! Insta = popsterbarby 🙂

  15. Tina (KnittingContessa) says:

    This makes me sad in all areas of consumerism. How a yogi can KNOW a mat is a knock off, and call it that as if it is more palatable than to say it’s stolen, all in the name of economy is very disheartening. I’ll step up my vigilance even if that makes me unpopular. I LOVE my red Liforme. And, it’s authentic!

  16. Amanda Francoeur says:

    This is so sad. People not creative or ambitious enough to come up with their own ideas so they steal someone elses…..what is wrong with people?!

  17. Margerie says:

    This is extremely sad and distasteful for companies to steal your hard work and duplicating your designd. Yogi should be aware of which companies they are investing their practice in, thank you for sharing this, as a current teacher trainee its good to be informed about such duplicity in the market and will also share the awareness in my community. Hope that each of us can make a difference for you and help in the best way we can a) by making informed purchases b) by raising awareness and being alert…Namsate 🙏

  18. Kayna Lee Mendoza says:

    I completely feel the frustration you must have for these ‘fake’ mats and replica’s that steal your design. My first yoga class in the UK, the teacher had one of these replica mats and said it was just like my Liforme mat! I felt uneasy for the fact that this company was not practicing the yogic philosophy and stealing your design and hard work! I enjoyed your video of how you all created your liforme mat and to see others copy and steal your hard efforts is truly saddening! 😭 thank you for speaking out on this topic, it happens so often in the activewear community too! Thank you for raising awareness! ♥️

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