What a joy to meet Rachel Dobronyi this summer at Tahoe Outdoor Yoga at Kiva Beach! This very special human is the founder of Kāma Surface Co. Kāma designs origami-style adventure surfaces with intention. Rachel’s roots are the mountains, the sea, yoga, and mindful adventures. She has followed her heart’s calling around the world and with enthusiasm and gratitude, Kāma is the song that poured out. Create a magical space in your favorite place! Get to know more about Rachel’s vision and her gift to the world in the interview story here:
Tell us a little bit about your yoga and adventure experiences!
My yoga experience began with a “Yoga for Kids” VHS my mom gave my brother and I to try and calm us down as wild children. I didn’t remember much from the video, but many years later a friend brought me to her studio where she was practicing. I started noticing how my surfing and climbing blended with yoga and began to attend classes religiously. We would call it a “triathlon” when we could climb, surf and practice yoga in one day.
Right after I graduated, I bought a plane ticket to India where I completed a 200 hour yoga teacher training. Learning about the yogic philosophy brought an entirely new dimension into my life. Mindfulness. It also introduced me to the concept of traveling the world and teaching yoga.
A few years after that, I set off on a sailing journey to the South Pacific from Mexico. I landed in Indonesia, where I spent some time surfing, practicing ashtanga and trying to figure out if I could make my mats in Bali. I hit a lot of dead ends, and when some friends mentioned they were headed to South America that fall, I left to join them. After hiking many incredible miles through the Andes, my friends went home and I found a job teaching outdoor yoga at a remote lodge in northern Patagonia. I stayed until the pandemic began closing borders and flew back to the mountains of California. Staying at home finally felt right and I began to hone in on my biggest mindful adventure to date, launching Kāma out and into the world!
What is one thing you want everyone to know about Kāma?
We build platforms for gratitude above all else. When it comes to putting a product into this world, we are very mindful of our impact on this planet and how we choose to do business. We create with intention. Kāma surfaces are made with materials that will stand up to all the bending and folding, dancing and stomping. Our inside panels are made from 100% recycled plastics (water bottles, milk jugs etc.) and we sew all the mats by hand in Baja, just minutes away from the surf.
How did the idea of creating Kāma come about? Was there an A-HA moment?
Kāma is rooted in yoga, specifically outdoor yoga. It was during my last year of university studying landscape architecture and I was working on my thesis project. I wanted to design a portable yoga studio that could be easily transported to different locations, provide support on uneven ground and be able to withstand changing environmental conditions. In between long hours experimenting with cardboard, fabric and paper, I’d ride my bike to the yoga studio down the road. It was during those classes where I’d drop everything at the door and be completely present. I can still picture where I was laying & breathing when the idea came to me. “Wait, it should be a mat!”
As a new and successful product creator and entrepreneur, what would you tell someone who has the desire to do the same but isn’t quite sure where to start?
Kāma stayed in my head a lot longer than I’ve actually been working on it. I had a briefly intense period of exploration with my studies at university, but after I graduated, social pressures of getting into a career got the best of me for a few years. It wasn’t until I took some time off to travel and started telling others, mostly complete strangers about my idea, that the desire to build a product took hold.
My advice is to not let that inner-critic voice lead you. Instead, listen to your creative voice, your inspiration that comes from movement, from being outdoors, from wherever you feel the most present, let that guide you.
Second, tell people what you are doing. Even if you don’t have a viable product, or you aren’t sure how it’s all going to work out exactly. Talking about your dreams makes them real.
What does the word KĀMA mean to you and how do you embrace it in your life?
The name for Kāma actually came to me a few years after I had the idea for the mat. I was sailing on a tiny boat from Mexico to Tahiti, and one of my crewmates played this album by Maribou State. Being that we had a limited number of songs between the three of us, I heard this album all the time. There is a song near the end that is mostly instrumental, no vocals, but speaks directly to the heart. It’s title Kāma, was the word I didn’t even know I was looking for. One of the first things I did when we landed and found some internet was research its meaning. A quick google brought up “the feeling of feelings”, which just felt so right.
To me, Kāma is a feeling. It is a connection to a place. To the people, to the sounds and smells and energy. Kāma is finding peace in the unfamiliar, like stopping to sip tea with strangers in a faraway bazaar. It’s taking a long dirt road and finding an uncrowded, perfectly peeling wave. I find that the more I open my mind to experiencing that Kāma feeling, I am a better human. It reminds me to go back to the land to play. To climb, to dance, to feel most alive.
Where are some of your favorite spots for outdoor adventuring and yoga-ing?
I am immensely grateful to live near Lake Tahoe, which is a playground for outdoor adventure. I try to make it out into my backyard every single day whether it be mountain biking and climbing when it’s sunny & skiing when it’s snowing! I blend my yoga practice around being outside, and most often enough will do some yoga (or snowga :)) right on the trail! We also have some rad beaches that will host yoga classes during the summer. There is nothing better than a savasana followed by a swim in Lake Tahoe!
If you’re in the area, please reach out! I’d love to lend you a mat and give you some local recommendations for exploring: email@example.com
What shifts do you think we will see in wellness and yoga in the near future?
Something I saw during the pandemic was a shift towards outdoor fitness classes. Spin bikes being pushed outside, mats moved to the park, weights brought out onto the beach. And why not? There’s no reason to be exercising inside on a beautiful day. The pandemic taught us that we need sunshine and fresh air. This is something that I believe is here to stay, and I think a lot of companies will adapt their products to suit the outdoors. I’m excited for more people to embrace their parks, their beaches, to get out on their trails, and to be stewards of those places. To encourage others to show care, to look after one another and the places they love.
Anything else you’d like to share…
We launched our origami-style surfaces just two weeks ago! We are so stoked to get them out into the world and are so grateful for the Yoga Trade community. Please use the code “YOGATRADE” for a special discount at checkout.
Rachel is an explorer. She is the founder and designer of origami-style platforms for adventure and mindfulness at Kāma Surface Co. Rachel has spent most of her life in the mountains & oceans of California, but loves nothing more than seeking out new places all over the world. She is also a yoga teacher, airbnb host, lover of plants and being barefoot.
Enter our GIVEAWAY on the GRAM (@yogatrade) by September 27th for your chance to win a Kāma adventure surface!