A good yoga mat is essential for a comfortable practice. Not only does it provide a safe, non-slip surface for maintaining balance, it also offers important cushioning and protection for your joints. When it comes to choosing your mat, you’ll find plastic/PVC mats are the most widely available, and also often the cheapest. But PVC is harmful to the environment. Made by reacting chlorine, carbon, and ethylene (a product of petrol), this man-made product requires an intensive production process that relies heavily on the use of fossil fuels. What’s more, PVC mats cannot be easily recycled, which means many pre-loved mats end up in landfills where the chemicals slowly start to break down. This releases dioxin, a known carcinogen.
Fortunately, there’s an all-natural, highly sustainable alternative to PVC. And that’s cork. Unlike PVC, cork yoga mats are 100% natural and super eco-friendly, but that’s not all that makes them great. Whether you’re looking to buy your first ever yoga mat, or your current mat has seen better days, here are just a few reasons why you should choose a cork yoga mat over their PVC counterparts.
In today’s modern world, many of our practices and manufacturing processes are carried out without sparing a thought for future generations. Cork farming also helps offset millions of tons of carbon each year, as studies show Cork Oak trees absorb up to 5 times more carbon dioxide once their bark is removed. And to make our process even more sustainable, we ensure no part of the cork is wasted during the manufacturing process – even the cork dust particles are used in various cork products!
2. Improved grip
Plastic mats are often advertised as ‘non-slip’, but the reality is most lack decent grip, especially once you start to sweat. If you’ve ever been to a Bikram or Hot Yoga class, you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about. Cork, on the other hand, has natural gripping properties that actually increase friction as you sweat. Not only does this magic non-slip surface make it easier to hold certain postures, but it’s also safer as you’re less likely to fall and injure yourself.
3. Better quality
While plastic/PVC mats can often be purchased with a smaller budget, cork yoga mats are much more durable and have a far longer life expectancy. So whilst you may save a few pounds initially, you’ll only spend more when you come to replace it (and we’ve already discussed what happens when a plastic mat reaches the end of its life).
But will you actually notice the difference during your practice? The answer is most definitely, yes. If you’ve ever owned a plastic mat, you may have noticed the edges rolling up during practice, however, this is not true for cork mats. Plastic/PVC mats can also feel foamy and unstable, but due to its high-density properties, cork yoga mats are firm and supportive.
If you often carry your mat around with you, be it roaming abroad or simply crossing town to your local studio, you want a mat that’s lightweight and easy to transport. And although cork mats are sturdy, they’re also super light, making them ideal travel companions.
5. More hygienic
Believe it or not, cork yoga mats are actually more hygienic. After taking samples from several mats, the swabs were taken to a lab and the results were rather shocking. One mat tested positive for staph, a bacteria which is known to cause urinary tract infections. They also discovered various forms of fungus.
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