Cork yoga mats come with a world of benefits. As far as we are concerned, cork is simply the ideal material for making yoga mats. It is an all-natural and non-toxic material with properties that make it perfect for yoga mats and accessories. Here's our list of reasons why.
1. Cork yoga mats maximize grip and are non-slip
A cork yoga mat is perfect for regular yoga as well as hot yoga. A common problem - especially in hot yoga - is sweating on the mat, and the mat becoming slippery and hard to grip. With yoga mats made from synthetic materials, this can also become a toxin soup of the release of chemicals from the mat combined with sweat. That'd be the last thing most of us are looking for when practicing yoga!
Fortunately, cork yoga mats are the solution. Cork becomes even more grippy when moisture hits the mat, so when you start to sweat, the more slip-resistant the mat becomes. In other words, as you exert yourself in practice, the mat changes with you to perfectly adapt to the grip you need.
2. They are naturally anti-microbial - with no need for frequent cleaning!
Cork is an anti-microbial material due to the waxy substance called Suberin that fills its cells. Although cork may seem spongy, it is water-repellent due to its waxy internal composition. Water damage is often what causes bacteria and mold to be able to enter into a material, but cork keeps water out of its cells, and microbes along with it. This means that your cork yoga mat won't start to harbor unpleasant odors and need to be cleaned after every use. Some say that cork yoga mats don't need to be cleaned at all, but others say that it is recommended to use a damp cloth or a natural spray for an occasional cleaning if the mat starts to appear dirty.
3. They contain no toxic materials or chemicals
There's no substitute for natural materials, especially when you are practicing yoga, which is incomplete without mindfulness, meditation, and grounding.
The most common toxic materials used in yoga mats are TPE and PVC. PVC is a highly toxic plastic and should be avoided in all products, especially when coming into direct contact with sweaty skin. PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, is among the least healthy and eco-friendly plastics around. It is not recyclable and releases toxic chemicals in its manufacturing. It can off-gas these same toxins and release them over time onto your skin when using and cleaning the mat. Along with the toxicity of PVC itself, it also contains phthalate plasticizers to give the material flexibility, which are associated with endocrine disruption, diabetes, obesity, and lowering immunity.
Some producers of yoga mats claim that TPE (Thermal Plastic Elastomer) is an environmentally friendly material, which is partially true due to its ability to be recycled. It is less toxic than PVC, but it isn't perfect. It is usually made from rubber mixed with plastic, but there are various types of TPE made from different types of plastics and the specific type used in yoga mats is not usually indicated. Although it is a much better choice over PVC and is said to contain small amounts of compounds that could migrate from the surface to the hands of the user, it still has a slight potential over time to off-gas or release chemical substances that were used in its production, especially with the combination of sweat and heat on the mat.
Cork is entirely non-toxic and natural, so you won't ever need to worry about plastic chemicals being absorbed into your skin!
At HowCork, we currently source cork yoga mats from two brands, Scoria World and Corc Yoga. Both of these brands make high-quality, eco-friendly, and all-natural yoga mats. Scoria World's mats are made from cork with a backing of natural rubber, and Corc Yoga mats are made from cork with a cotton backing.
4. They're lightweight for taking on your travels
Cork yoga mats are surprisingly lightweight. This is due to cork's internal cellular structure. Cork is made up of cells filled with a waxy substance called Suberin, and these cells are surrounded by air pockets. It is these air pockets that cause cork material to be so lightweight despite its volume.
One of the downsides to 100% natural rubber yoga mats is the fact that they are usually heavier than synthetic mats. Although Scoria World's mats do contain natural rubber, their mats are still very lightweight as much less rubber is used than in 100% rubber mats. The natural latex rubber that they use comes from a small family farm in Vietnam, with whom they work closely. Both Scoria World and Corc Yoga use cork from Portugal. Corc Yoga mats do not contain natural latex at all to be suitable for those with a latex allergy.
5. Cork yoga mats are more durable than other mats
Cork yoga mats are made to last at least 1-2 years with constant use, so you can be sure that they are some of the most durable yoga mats around.
Although this may not seem like much, most yoga mats made from PVC, TPE, or rubber alone only last around 8 months to a year at the most. Cork's waxy cellular structure is what gives it resistance against the elements (especially water damage) so that it maintains its characteristics with normal wear and tear longer than other materials used in standard yoga mats.
At the end of the mat's lifespan, cork can be recycled and is also biodegradable, and the same is true for the natural rubber used in Scoria World mats.
6. Cork provides both comfort and support
Cork is flexible and soft to the touch and provides cushioning for your knees, hands, and shoulders while holding yoga positions. The shock absorbency of cork also contributes to the support that it provides your body when hitting the mat. Cork provides both the firmness needed for support and a smooth surface for comfort to enhance your yoga practice.
7. Cork is bound to catch everyone's eye!
If you're going to a yoga studio or practicing in a group, don't be surprised if your yoga mat (and block) become the center of attention! The natural beauty of cork is stunning and unique, and if your friends haven't seen cork yoga products before, they're bound to be amazed! Of course, cork is always a great way to start the conversation about conscious and non-toxic living, environmentalism, veganism, and so much more. :)
8. Cork yoga accessories are great too!
Cork is the best solution for yoga mats, so why stop there? We love the cork block, cork roller, and cork massage ball accessories in our cork yoga products collection too. A cork block is great for stretching even further in your poses. The cork massage balls and roller help with trigger points, sore muscles, and tissue relief, as well as to increase blood circulation.
Are you convinced yet that you need a cork yoga mat in your life? If you are, you can jump to our cork yoga mat and accessories collection by clicking below!