September 17, 2010

Review: YogaEarth Nutritional Supplements. ~ Angela Raines

Improve Your Karma Yoga!

“…high-tech, yoga-riffic Emergen-C.”

“…There’s a kitchen sink full of good stuff in these things, from bee pollen and CoQ10 to wheatgrass and cordyceps to acai berry, probiotics and amino acids…”

I’m a cynical yogini. In the past, I’ve been pretty fundamentally opposed to products like YogaEarth. They’re marketed to our LOHAS (Lifestyles Of Health And Sustainability) crowd by people who, out of one side of the mouths claim that all we need are natural, simple foods and exercise, yet out of the other side push their powders and formulae. It smacks of opportunism and just feels dirty to me.<

However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by such supplements before, so I suspended my cynicism and gave YogaEarth a sincere try. The system consists of two powders, “Balance,” to be taken before yoga practice, and “Vitality” for post-practice, although usage instructions are to take both daily, regardless of whether you hit the mat. Both come in small packets to be dissolved in water. They’re like high-tech, yoga-riffic Emergen-C.

I took both almost everyday for two weeks.

At this point in my experiment, the jury’s still out, but leaning towards a favorable verdict. They’re not Willy Wonka–level scrumptious, but they’re not unpalatable – they hover around the “hmmm, this must be good for me” mark. I think I very well might have felt relaxed and energized from them, though these things are subtle and subjective enough to warrant further investigation.

I didn’t notice any significant changes in my yoga practice or overall well-being, but if I continued taking them for a month or two, I very well might notice improvements: there’s a kitchen sink full of good stuff in these things, from bee pollen and CoQ10 to wheatgrass and cordyceps to acai berry, probiotics and amino acids. In fact, YogaEarth collaborated on a study on their products’ efficacy, and found that, after daily use for one month, “93% of participants felt sustained improvements in energy […] 80% of participants felt improvement in their yoga/exercise experience […] and 66% felt improvements in mood or mental state.” Placebo effect aside, that’s still pretty impressive.

The little powder packs make for an incredibly convenient, I-squeeze-yoga-in-on-my-lunch-hour-friendly system. I also like that they automatically make you drink water, before and after practice: so many of us live on coffee and other anti-nutritive liquids, which take their toll on us and our yoga practice, so it’s nice to be encouraged to hydrate healthily.

My favorite things about YogaEarth have nothing to do with its nutritional benefits, though. Here’s a company that seems sincerely dedicated to sustainability and giving back to the community. Proceeds from the sale of YogaEarth products go to several social activism groups:

> In the next few days, they’ll launch their partnership with Off the Mat, Into the World, donating a whopping 20% of their sales to this organization whose “mission is to use the power of yoga to inspire conscious, sustainable activism and ignite grassroots social change.”

> The Tenpa Foundation: founded by Tibetan lama Tulku Karma Rinpoche, this foundation has started several refugee centers and orphanages for Tibetan children. YogaEarth has donated vitamins and sponsored a fundraiser and other awareness events to support a camp in Mainipat, India, which will house nearly 1000 children, and includes education, culture, and health support.

> YogaEarth also has plans to support Yoga for Youth, a partnership with Elena Brower to support housing development for the floods in Pakistan, and a partnership with Brock Cahill to help clean up the oceans after the BP debacle.

In addition to this astonishing level of philanthropy, YogaEarth is also committed to sustainability. Many of the ingredients are organic, and the packaging is made of 80% recycled material. I noticed that the wrappers for the powder, itself, isn’t recyclable, though, so I contacted the company. Here’s the thoughtful response I received from their founder, Daniel Cook:

We take the environmental footprint of our products very seriously (prior to YE I’ve founded non-related projects in the clean energy space, and the environment has always been a passion of mine).

The outer packaging is FSC certified, 80% PCW, you are correct. The challenge for us has been the stick packs themselves. As the product is all natural, with herbs, organics, juice powders, and no preservatives or excipients, it is very sensitive to moisture. We tested a recyclable option that did not pass quality tests (left the product degraded and hardened under moderate conditions). The option we have now works well to protect the product because it has several layers of material – but this makes it hard to recycle as it is difficult to separate these layers of material post-consumption. We are producing again towards the end of this year and will again be on the search for alternate stick pack material. My understanding is that more and more companies are asking for options in this space – and this critical mass should help!

I believe reducing our footprint is a process, and we will continue to strive to be as efficient as we can while delivering products with integrity. We are also redesigning the actual cartons to reduce the amount of material used, and the weight of the boxes for more efficient shipping.

And with that, folks, this cynic’s heart is pretty officially melted. YogaEarth might not be clinically proven to make your down dog deeper, but it’s definitely doing its part for conscious capitalism — that’s karma yoga in action, my friends.  And the bee pollen doesn’t hurt, either.  So if you’re looking to supplement, I’d say these are definitely worth a try.

Check out Waylon’s initial review.

UPDATE 10/14/2010: YogaEarth has contacted us with the great news that their partnership with Off The Mat is now in full swing. Here’s the press release:

Off the Mat, Into the World™ (OTM) and YogaEarth™ announced an innovative partnership for social philanthropy that promises to help further the OTM mission to use the power of yoga to inspire conscious activism and ignite grassroots social change.

The partnership will be activated at www.yogaearth.com/offthemat, a full-service charity microsite that features YogaEarth products and a donations tracker per product sold. Under the partnership, $10.00 of donations per 30-pack of YogaEarth nutrition sold will go directly to OTM programs. With just 100 supporters on YogaEarth’s monthly program for one year, this can equate to the partnership’s goal of $24,000.00 to support OTM’s mission in 2010 alone. The donations represent an unusually high commitment of nearly 20% of product sales.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with YogaEarth. Their products and ethics are of the highest standard. They are committed to health, sustainability and community just as we are!,” announced Hala Khouri, Founder of Off the Mat, Into the World™ and Teacher of Yoga and the Movement Arts.

YogaEarth develops one-a-day nutritional products that combine blends of organics, herbals, phytonutrients and Ayurvedic ingredients. YogaEarth’s Balance and Vitality synergize with the practice and living of yoga helping with energy, digestion, detox clarity and nutrient replenishment.

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