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Hugger Mugger Yoga Products was founded in 1986 in Salt Lake City by Sara Chambers. A custom furniture builder, Sara was a devoted student of Cita Mason and David Riley, Iyengar Yoga teachers in Salt Lake City, when she attended her first weekend workshop with the late Mary Dunn.
During the workshop, she observed Mary scrounging around for an appropriate strap to demonstrate a modification to a pose. One student from Idaho had brought an L.L. Bean belt to the workshop, which worked infinitely better than the thrift store neckties everyone was using back in those days. Mary continued to borrow that strap throughout the weekend, setting off a spark in Sara’s creative mind.
The following Monday, Sara showed up at her regular Monday evening class with two newly made Yoga props: a 1-1/2-inch-wide cotton D-ring strap based on the belt Mary had used, and a new pair of maroon velour gym shorts she’d made specifically for Yoga practice. The shorts were finished with a thigh-hugging band that kept the shorts in place during inversions and kept private parts private in wide-legged poses. Sara’s strap and shorts were immediate hits, and she began taking orders for them that night.
Inspired by Yoga—and a desire to give up using power tools in her work—Sara began making Iyengar-inspired Yoga props in the basement of her small bungalow. She consulted with her local teachers and with Mary Dunn to help her come up with the sturdy, innovative and functional Yoga products, including handmade Yoga blocks set to Iyengar’s specifications. In addition, Sara began importing and selling the latest 1980s Iyengar yoga discovery—the sticky mat, made from European under-carpet padding. She named her company “Hugger Mugger” after the shorts that started it all. (Hugger Mugger is an archaic word that means “to conceal.”)
In 1990, after hearing feedback that the carpet underlay mats crumbled after a few months’ use, Sara decided to develop a sturdier, stickier mat. She found a U.S.-based company that was willing to take on the challenge and the Tapas® Mat, the first-ever mat designed specifically for Yoga, was born. The same company still makes our Tapas® Mats.
Although many popular PVC-based Yoga mats contain heavy metals and phthalates, we’re happy to say our mats have never contained these toxic substances. In recent years, we have focused on adding more and more sustainable products to our line, including biodegradable mats, cork and bamboo blocks, hemp straps, and organic cotton and bamboo clothing.
Hugger Mugger outgrew Sara’s basement in 1989, and she moved to a warehouse space that year. In 1997, Sara took on a partner, David Chamberlain, to help her expand her growing business. Sara retired and sold the company to David in 2006. We’ve come a long way from Sara’s basement, but we continue to honor her original vision: to provide innovative, premium-quality products and create a wide circle of Yoga friends throughout the world.