I recently had the pleasure of connecting with an extraordinarily inspiring couple, who have not only acquired a personal mission dedicated to experiencing life through physical movement, but have also developed a unique vision for the future of athletic-wear to embody this ethos and help others along the same journey.
The brains behind IMBŌDHI
Carolina Saboya met her boyfriend, Ariel, in November of 2013 at Ecstatic Dance in Oakland, a bi-weekly freeform dance gathering. This serendipitous encounter would become the catalyst to a long and meaningful journey of hard work and personal development that would eventually become IMBŌDHI.
“We met in movement, and movement became the foundation of our relationship.”
In the year leading up to the inception of IMBŌDHI, the couple was living together in Berkeley, California. She was a full time college student at San Francisco State University, while Ariel was “living and breathing his work as the co-founder of a San Francisco-based juice company, Thistle.”
After college, the couple yearned for more. Ariel left Thistle in search of a more balanced lifestyle and Carolina began working as a caregiver to a man with a significant physical disability. The couple also started teaching occasional acroyoga classes.
“We had come to the realization that life is only meaningful inasmuch as we are actually present, here in our bodies, to experience it. This birthed what we began to call ‘Operation Embodiment’: Our new lifelong pursuit of fine-tuning and strengthening our bodies in order to maximize our experience as beings in physical form.”
She talked about the time they would set aside each morning to practice growing their awareness and refining their sensitivity to sensations within their bodies and physical environment. This included a variety of practices such as qi gong, yoga, trail running, barefoot hiking, contact improvisation, meditation and acroyoga.
We are two people who love to build and create. And we find it essential to feel free, agile and aware in our bodies while doing so.
“About 10 months ago, we realized we wanted to channel this energy into building a brand around this ethos — creating gear for embodied living.”
And that is how IMBŌDHI came to be.
Why create IMBŌDHI?
“In September 2015, we were driving up the California coast to Oregon for Divine Play (the world’s largest Acroyoga festival) and were brainstorming how to become acro superheroes and decided we needed to level up our gear…Then we started painting the visual of the IMBŌDHI Bodysuit.”
Carolina explained that the idea of the bodysuit began to fuse with their Operation Embodiment.
“We wanted the brand to promote embodied living, above all else; to celebrate people’s unique journey in their body. We also wanted a platform to share the wisdom of individuals who have an established embodiment practice.”
That’s how their blog, Operation Embodiment, began. It will be launching in the next few months, and will be “a space where we can explore different access points to embodied living. It will regularly showcase exceptional individuals who have mastered some aspect of embodiment.”
The couple has already interviewed an Alvin Ailey dancer, a brilliant disabled filmmaker and professor, an Iraqi refugee acroyogi, and a somatic psychotherapist contact dance teacher.
Why is the IMBŌDHI Bodysuit necessary? What were the other active-wear companies missing?
Carolina fervently agreed that the active-wear industry is missing something.
“First, it isn’t easy to find a good bodysuit, and impossible to find one that is made with technical grade fabric and intelligent design,” Carolina said.
In terms of marketing active-wear, Carolina insisted that people want to see more bodies that look like theirs. “We want our bodysuits to be worn by all different generations, ethnicities, and body types. With the majority of young women having a negative self-body image, we think it’s time to move the conversation toward a more holistic and loving view of the self.”
Beyond that, she couldn’t help but mention that active-wear options have always been inherently limited — leggings, tank tops and sports bras.
“There is definitely a time and place for leggings and a tank top. But it’s not the most practical combo for most sports. In yoga, pilates, lyra, and aerial silks, tank tops frequently ride up the body, and in acro, feet and hands get caught in the pant seam.
Most athletes just accept these wardrobe complications as a part of the practice. But they don’t have to be.
So what is the IMBŌDHI Bodysuit?
Carolina and Ariel’s answer to the current inadequacies in active wear is the IMBŌDHI Bodysuit — a reversible, one-piece active-wear outfit, made specifically to support women who live an active lifestyle.
“It has four-way stretch, a crotch gusset, and the highest quality fabric we could get our hands on — it’s designed to allow for the fullest extension of your body in any direction.”
“The crotch gusset is double-layered so you can wear it without underwear if you wish. It has a built-in shelf bra for full breast support. The shelf bra has slits for bra cups if you wish to add them. The bodysuit compresses the most vulnerable parts of the body, while keeping the back exposed. It’s streamlined and zero-adjustment gear, allowing for complete focus on your sport. And the best part: one reversible bodysuit = two unique styles.”
These bodysuits are an ideal choice for those sports and actvities that you don’t want your clothing to interfere in —Acroyoga, yoga, dance, Pilates, aerial skills and the flow arts.
Carolina compared the continuous design of the bodysuits to, “wearing a second skin.”
What inspired the earth-conscious concept?
“Our goal is to continually push the bar for sustainability in the fashion industry.”
“The textile industry as a whole hasn’t yet adopted the new paradigm, making it challenging to source domestically-made recycled technical fabric. The existing active-wear companies using recycled polyesters are sourcing them from overseas (Taiwan and China), with limited oversight and insane amounts of fossil fuels used in transport.”
Though the couple refused to sacrifice this aspect of their vision.
“The IMBŌDHI Bodysuit was created with a philosophy that supports social and environmental sustainability; 100 percent California made from fabric to garment, thus supporting local economies and emitting less carbon into our ecosystem.”
In their second production run, Carolina says they will be working with a Los Angeles-based manufacturer to produce “U.S.-made recycled technical poly-fabric to reach further toward our environmental sustainability goal.”
Not to mention, “The high quality fabric will also greatly extend the lifespan of the bodysuit.”
Who is the perfect person to enjoy the IMBŌDHI Bodysuit? Will women who traditionally have a hard time finding comfortable athletic wear (curvier, taller, bustier, etc.) find a solution in IMBŌDHI ?
“Every woman who has tried one on has immediately started to stretch and explore their new unlimited range of motion. So, really, any woman who wants greater freedom of physical expression is the perfect person.”
This November, IMBŌDHI will launch their first line of bodysuits in four different sizes.
“We’ve been testing our samples on a large variety of women and making adjustments based on their feedback. The suit fits nearly all types; the curvy, the slender, the busty, the short, or the tall women.”
While they have not yet tested the bodysuit on XXL women, Carolina said they will be expanding their size options in the future lines to cater to all women. For now, she assured “the bodysuit will conform to nearly any woman’s shape” and “will feel like an extraordinary solution for the vast majority of women.”
What’s in store for the future of IMBŌDHI ?
“We’re going to continue making bodysuits with new designs and new artwork.”
Following in the initial November launch, Carolina says we can expect the second women’s line in Spring of 2017. “And yes, we are already brainstorming designs for a Summer 2017 Men’s line,” she added.
“Eventually, we envision IMBŌDHI solidifying itself as a platform that hosts embodiment related events, retreats, and online courses. And, as the IMBŌDHI founders, our ultimate goals are to continue to learn, practice and share the wonders of feeling embodied.”
Now that’s something we can get on board with.