What is yoga? Some see it as simply folding oneself into a pretzel and doing silly animal poses called downward dog and cat, cow and so on. But, yoga goes far beyond physical contortions. In Sanskrit, the language of ancient India, yoga means union the balance between body, mind and spirit.
At the Green Canopy, the philosophy of balance transcends into all aspects even in the clothing business. Located in the Village of the Grand Traverse Commons, the Green Canopy offers organic, natural and fair trade yoga clothing, along with a variety of yoga products that promote health and well being.
We promote Eastern India Health. If people have issues, they can come here and get support, says Libby Robold, who, along with husband Michael, own Green Canopy.
In 2001, the couple opened a yoga studio in the same building, Yoga for Health, which still serves as a studio and education center. Through a joint business relationship and a change of circumstance, the Robolds helped open and now fully operate Green Canopy, a place where their clients can go for all their yoga purchasing needs.
A HEALTHY SPACE
The space originally was much smaller when we first moved into Building 50, says Michael. It was leased to four or five businesses; but because there were no heating elements, good air circulation or exterior windows there was a high turnover. So I thought we could just expand our studio into the space. We opened the store in 2007.
Michael says the design of the store is focused on using natural or reclaimed materials, including two dressing rooms made from wood that was donated by a couple who were remodeling their house.
The floors are made of bamboo; and the counter, handcrafted by Tom Karas, consists of repurposed sliced trees.
We wanted the building materials to be as safe and clean as possible, says Libby. That includes using non-toxic paint for the walls.
The Robolds and their Yoga for Health studio were nominated for the Northern Michigan Environmental Action Councils 2010 Environmental Business of the Year award, an honor that further testifies to the entrepreneurs mission for environmental consciousness.
Our focus well before the store space was about how we take care of the environment, says Michael.
Michael points to an incident that happened back in the early 70s in which he had an allergic reaction to a store-brand deodorant
I became, I dont want to say, a wary shopper but more alert to the contents of the products I was buying, which is something thats carried over to our food, clothing, and everything else.
NATURAL AND FAIR TRADE PRODUCTS
Natural deodorant is just one product Green Canopy carries. Other environmental and health conscious items include joint balm, coconut oil, eco sinus cleaner and herbs.
The store also thinks about health when it comes to clothing.
Weve been very focused on getting clothing that comes from a natural, renewable resource like cashmere, hemp or recycled cotton, says Michael. Many people just dont understand all the chemicals that go into the everyday clothes that are sold in the malls and franchise stores.
Everything I wear is organic, agrees Libby. The Chinese believe your clothing affects the chi energy in the body. I know I feel different wearing organic.
Green Canopy also carries local products and many out-of-town products, but always fairly traded.
Were always concerned about where the clothing comes from, says store manager Brittany Wildfong.
For example, the clothing line Be Love is a non-profit, where a portion of sales is used to promote peace; and FOAT Designa company located in Minnesotauses bolt fabrics that would otherwise be thrown away by other clothing companies.
And what is the best part about working with these businesses?
You always get a person on the phone, says Wildfong. Its very personable.
Libby agrees the relationship with many of their clothiers is about trust.
Well call in an order and theyll ask us to just mail a check whenever we get to it, she says.
When comparing prices of organic clothing to standard store-bought clothes, the price is usually higher a common inconvenience for all organic products, but worth paying, says Michael.
When we get a product with better ingredients, we pay more. But thats a short-term issue. The main focus is the long-term outcome: our health.
We look at the whole picture, he continues. Were all connected to one another and we look at the big picture and see the billions of people and ask whats significant about this one entity. The power of the individual should never be underestimated to make a difference.
Green Canopy is located in suite 106 in The Village, next to Cuppa Joe, at the Grand Traverse Commons. Store hours are Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Yoga for Health is located next door in suite 106. Visit them online at yogaforhealthtc.com for a schedule of classes.