Whether you are a seasoned yogi or a beginner, yoga mat shopping can be overwhelming. There are many different types of materials, sizes, and grips to choose from. You even have to consider where and what type of yoga you will be practicing to find the right mat for your needs.
Why is it important to choose the right yoga mat? It’s important to choose the right one because your yoga classes should be comfortable and enjoyable. Not only in a physical sense, but you should also be mentally comfortable with your mat choice. It’s no secret that many yogis care about the environment, and they should not have to compromise their care for a mat to practice on.
If your yoga mat is not enjoyable, then even if you do all the poses correctly, you may not enjoy the result.
The wrong yoga mat can keep you from achieving the best results because it interferes with your postures and movements. This can lead to shoulder pains, aches, and pains in other areas of your body.
If you are ready to find the best yoga mat for your health and the environment, keep reading to see the comparisons of materials.
Cork Yoga Mats
If you have been waiting for a mat that has it all, then look no further. A cork yoga mat is just what you need;
- Environmentally friendly (biodegradable)
These are just some of the highlighted benefits of having a cork yoga mat. It’s also amazing for both indoor and outdoor use, which is an added bonus compared to other mat types.
The material comes from a cork or oak tree’s bark. Not only does this mean these yoga mats come from a renewable resource, but the creation of these mats removes carbon dioxide from the air! Cork is 100% natural so it can even be recycled. This makes a cork yoga mat the perfect eco-friendly choice.
Are cork yoga mats slippery?
Cork mats have an amazing grip making them the perfect nonslip choice. It’s even designed so the grip improves as it gets wet.
If you are a hot yoga lover, this is definitely the mat for you due to its moisture-absorbent properties. Sometimes as a yogi, there’s a trade-off that happens with your wants/needs when it comes to finding a mat. Luckily with cork, there is no trade-off! Not only can you have an all-natural and sustainable mat, but you can have a nonslip one as well.
So don’t worry about your sweat from a hot yoga session, it will actually be beneficial. And if those classes aren’t your thing, you can even spray a little bit of water on your hands and feet to achieve maximum grip.
Are cork yoga mats durable?
Yes, cork mats are built to last. While other mats may work for 8-12 months of regular use, cork ones can last for 1-2 years on average.
Do cork yoga mats smell?
No, they do not smell. Cork yoga mats are self-cleaning, however, it’s always best to wipe them down at least once a week. You can use a washcloth and water or can use a combination of water, vinegar, and essential oils.
To find out how to make a proper cleanser, instructions can be found on this how to clean a cork yoga mat blog post.
Natural Rubber Yoga Mats
Another eco-friendly option is natural rubber yoga mats. These are similar to cork mats since they are both sourced from renewable resources. The material comes from the sap of rubber trees and makes the mats a little heavier than usual.
Rubber mats feel spongy and offer great support. However, this can make it a little hard to transition from one pose to another when practicing.
Is natural rubber toxic?
No, natural rubber is a non-toxic material that is free from harmful chemicals and materials. It is recommended for those who have latex allergies to avoid mats labeled as natural rubber. There is a risk of a reaction, so it’s best to avoid it altogether.
Natural Rubber vs Cork Yoga Mat
Natural rubber mats a great competitor to cork ones. They are sustainable, durable, and are self-cleaning as well. Rubber ones also are lighter than cork mats, and can easily be folded. However, these yoga mats do not have as much versatility.
They lack the ability to do well in heat/sunlight, and therefore it’s not recommended for outdoor use. It may not be best for those who practice hot yoga either because they do not always maintain the best grip while wet.
Another issue people have with natural rubber is that it has a bad smell. The scent comes from the material itself, so you cannot escape it no matter what brand you buy.
Cork mats are the clear winner due to their traction, durability, and ability to be used both in and outdoors.
PVC yoga mats are very popular and can be found in stores like Target, Walmart, and Amazon. They are known for being:
- Easy to clean
- Perfect for indoor/outdoor use
Typically the cost drives a lot of people to purchase PVC mats. Although they may be cheap, the environmental impacts of these mats far outweigh the cost-benefit.
Are PVC yoga mats bad?
This material is not made sustainably, meaning it is not biodegradable. PVC mats are bad for the environment during their creation and destruction process. Most times this type of plastic just sits in landfills because it cannot be recycled.
Some PVC yoga mats are even made with harmful phthalates that can affect your health. One of these chemicals is dioxin, which according to the EPA can cause cancer and other serious health problems. It’s not a guarantee that you will get sick, but if you can avoid exposure to harmful chemicals then why not do so?
TPE (thermoplastic elastomer) mats are a mixture of plastic and rubber that can easily mold to your body. It has all the same benefits as a PVC mat; easy to clean, relatively cheap, and perfect for any yoga class. It also provides great traction (nonslip) and is super durable.
Is TPE safer than PVC?
TPE mats are generally safer than PVC ones. Yoga mats made of TPC are usually free from dioxin, phthalates, and are recyclable. This is already a big step up from PVC.
However, it requires fossil fuels and other chemicals to produce. This means TPE mats are not the most sustainable but are a vast improvement from PVC.
NBR yoga mats are usually thicker, provide a lot of cushions, and are made of synthetic rubber. This is great for those who need a little more support, but it will leave some imprints as you practice. These can make moving from positions a little more difficult than needed.
These mats also provide great insulation. However, the production of NBR is not eco-friendly. It is a chemical-heavy material that has limited production in certain countries. Since it’s manmade, it is not recyclable or biodegradable.
Cotton and Hemp Mats
There is a big distinction between cotton yoga mats. There are some made with GMO cotton, and others using organic. Both of these are biodegradable and are built to last. However, if the production process matters to you, GMO cotton uses pesticides and fertilizers that may be harmful to the environment.
These natural mats are lightweight and even machine washable. However, the grip is not the strongest. This can be an issue for beginner yogis who rely on that when starting out. These types of mats are also known to slip on smooth surfaces.
There are even cotton and hemp hybrid yoga mats. These also have the same pros and cons as plain cotton mats do.
Jute yoga mats are made from organic plant fibers that don’t use pesticides. It’s another sustainable and environmentally friendly option. It’s natural, antimicrobial, and lightweight.
It’s important to mention that because these mats are made from fibers, the texture can be scratchy. If the texture of the mat is very important to you, this may not be the best option.
What is the best material for a yoga mat?
It’s clear that a cork yoga mat is the best option for all yogis. It is currently one of the most eco-friendly materials on the market and looks super stylish. This mat also doesn’t sacrifice its grip or durability in order to be biodegradable.
A cork yoga mat is non-slip, moisture-absorbent, and versatile. They are perfect for both indoor and outdoor use, so you don’t have to purchase two different mats.
Its also antimicrobial, which means it has self-cleaning properties. There’s no other mat that can offer all that a cork one does.