What is Raphia?
Our meditation cushions are 100% handmade from raphia, a natural wonder from Madagascar, using local expertise and traditional weaving techniques.
What is raphia?
Madagascar is a paradise on earth where a rich biodiversity flourishes in the best tropical climate. In the wet and humid regions of Madagascar grows raphia, a large palm tree 15 to 20m high, with the longest leaves among all trees. Fibers are extracted from the membrane of the leaves of the raphia palm, which are used to craft hats, handbags, baskets and other pieces of art.
Is it sustainable?
Harvesting raphia is sustainable as the harvest is done under strict laws and the tree is not harmed during the process. This means the raphia tree can continue to grow under the ideal tropical conditions in Madagascar.
Raphia is a strong organic fiber that is flexible and durable. Unlike straw, it is difficult to break the strands and it does not become brittle over time.
How are the cushions made?
There are many steps before your cushions arrive to you!
It all starts in the valleys of Madagascar, in very remote areas accessible after hours of walking and sometimes by canoe. The fiber (the strand) is extracted using a specific local process and then left to dry under the sun. Soon after, the raphia fiber turns to a beautiful sandy colour as it begins to dry out.
The next step is separating the fibers depending on their quality, texture, length and size, to ensure only the finest raphia is used for weaving. Dying is done using warm vegan pigments.
The raphia leaves then arrive to our artisans, who then start weaving the cushions, using crochet, an ancestral weaving method. This technique requires skilled hands and a lot of patience. Each Nature or Voanio cushion takes about 2 to 3 days to make, and the Dunes cushion can take up to 7 days!
Once the cushions are finished, our artisans then add a zip on the side and a soga (local high quality organic cotton) lining for the filling.
The cushions are then exported to the UK, where we fill them with organic UK-grown buckwheat hulls. Buckwheat hulls are the outer shell of the buckwheat grain. This outer shell is too hard to be eaten by humans or animals, so it is a wasted product as far as food is concerned.
We work with UK farms that do not treat buckwheat hulls with herbicides, pesticides or fungicides either when growing, harvesting or storage. They are not heat-treated or roasted.
Buckwheat hulls are organic and provide you with a firm comfortable support and grounding. They comform well to the shape of your body, just like sitting in a mount of beach sand.
The Ladina Yoga Meditation Cushions
Each Ladina Yoga cushion is completely unique and handmade with love from our finest artisans using traditional techniques from Madagascar.
Ladina Yoga was born in Madagascar, where Maysun Hassanaly (Founder of Ladina Yoga) was born and brought up. Raphia is a wonderful heritage that we feel we need to protect and share with the world. The raphia meditation cushions are an invitation to awaken all your senses, from its unique touch and earthy fragrance, inviting you to return to nature and travel to the tropical valleys of Madagascar.
At Ladina Yoga, our priority is to help you reconnect with the earth with eco-friendly yoga accessories. We believe the practice of yoga cannot be detached from the principle of Ahimsa (non-harming) and respecting the planet. When you buy a raphia meditation cushion, you are not only traveling inwards, you are also helping create local employment and supporting fair trade in Madagascar, one of the most economically-challenged country in the world.