YogiFi: How to get your hands on the world's first smart, interactive yoga mat

The nifty new product will officially launch in September

The YogiFi mat offers tips to correct posture while guiding users through asana sequences. YouTube
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Earlier this year, the world's first interactive yoga mat, powered by AI, was awarded the Innovation Award at CES 2020 in Las Vegas, US.

And for good reason.

Through the use of haptic pressure sensors, the mat can track your asanas (or poses), giving you real-time feedback and tips to correct your posture.

Users can also download an app with pre-loaded programmes and a virtual assistant that guides you through sequences of asanas, many of which are designed to help alleviate health issues, such as anxiety, arthritis and back pain.

This can be linked to your smartphone, smart watch or home assistant, such as Google Home and Amazon Alexa.

Basically, it does everything an instructor would in a studio, but in the comfort of your own home – or wherever else you might find yourself practicing your flow (the battery lasts four to five hours) – perfectly fitting for the times we're currently living in.

Up until recently, the product has been in the development phase, but now you can pledge to back the project and get your own mat via a Kickstarter campaign, which has nine days left at the time of writing. A total of $135,618 (Dh498,057) had been drummed up, far exceeding the goal of $35,000. There's even a special membership offer of $99 available.

The official global market launch is set to take place in September 2020

The mat, which is manufactured in the US, is suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels, and comes in six colours: purple, grey, turquoise, royal blue, mustard and pink.

It's made from rubber and foam, with materials that are reusable or 100 per cent recyclable. It's also non-toxic.

While this new product aims to help people with their at-home practice, it's not supposed to put yoga instructors and studios out of business. The idea is that certified teachers collaborate with YogiFi in order to create personalised programmes for their students, and offer a variety of different styles, from hatha to iyengar and even prenatal yoga.

This also means keen yogis can access classes by teachers from all across the world.

That's why the The Hindu has dubbed it the "FitBit of the yoga industry".

And the team plans to continually update its programmes, to also offer other mat exercises, such as Zumba, Pilates, CrossFit and more.

It all started almost 10 years ago, when Indian entrepreneur Muralidhar Somisetty, founder of Wellnesys, the company behind the product, began trying to heal his own health issues. This included back and neck pain, as well as diabetes and hypertension. "I was learning yoga, as a method to overcome them," he told The Hindu.

He went on to become a certified trainer, realising any instructor could create programmes specifically for lifestyle conditions. "But how do you track whether it is working, whether your students are doing it regularly, and doing it right?" he asked.

That's when he teamed up with Vinod Ajjarapu, Pranav Kanuparthi and Sankar Dasiga, and YogiFi was born. The product was then patented in 2018, trials began in 2019 and 100 per cent of what they had to offer sold out in 100 hours on Kickstarter in May 2020.

The official global market launch is set to take place in September.

While the team faced a few challenges with respect to the supply chain and logistics amid the coronavirus pandemic, they were able to "successfully mitigate all the risks" by sourcing back-up materials and setting up assembly units in different locations in local regions.

"Beyond that, we don't see any other challenges / risks with the delivery of the product, as we have everything from hardware to software in place to get going forward," says a statement on Kickstarter.