5 Reasons to Switch to a Cork Yoga Mat
A yoga mat can transform just about anywhere in the world into a dedicated space for movement, breath, and meditation. Whether we’re flowing in the studio, at home, or in a park, our practice always takes place on our mats.
These little mats are the unsung heroes of our yoga practice. They’ve cushioned us in our child’s poses, supported us in our headstands, and never once complained about our smelly feet. They’re the physical foundation that we use to build our yoga practice upon.
But unfortunately, many of us are building our practice upon a base of toxic, environmentally damaging materials. That’s because the average yoga mat is made of non-biodegradable, toxic plastic polymers, like PVC. (Not sure what your mat is made of? Check out this article to help you find out of your yoga mat is made of toxic plastic.)
If we’ve already swapped out our plastic water bottles for healthier, more sustainable alternatives, then why are we still practicing on plastic mats?
Fortunately, yogis, we have options. Cork yoga mats are the best alternative to mainstream, plastic yoga mats. Not only are they eco friendly, but they’re a great material to practice on.
Here are the top 5 reasons why you should switch to a Cork Yoga Mat
#1) Cork Yoga Mats are Antimicrobial
Cork Yoga Mats are a cleaner and safer alternative to plastic yoga mats because cork is naturally antimicrobial. This means that the material inhibits the growth of microorganisms, like germs and bacteria, keeping your mat a clean, sacred space for your practice.
This also makes cork yoga mats a fantastic choice for studio-wide use. As studio owners are having to be more conscious of cleanliness than ever, cork yoga mats can give you and your students the peace of mind that your shared mats are safe for use.
#2) Cork Yoga Mats are Hypoallergenic
Breath is an important part of the yoga practice, and your mat shouldn’t interfere with the quality of your inhales.
Fortunately, cork is naturally hypoallergenic and resistant to dust, making it an ideal material for yogis who suffer from allergies, hay fever, or asthma. Yogis with pets can also rejoice, as dander particles won’t get trapped in the fibres (although we recommend that your four-legged family members stay off your cork mat!).
#3) Cork Yoga Mats are Naturally Non-Slip
Few things feel better than working up a deep, detoxifying sweat during a rigorous yoga practice. However, when your palms and feet are sweaty, plastic surfaces can act more like a slip n’ slide than a yoga mat.
Cork, on the other hand, is a naturally non-slip material. In fact, the more you sweat, the “grippier” your hands become on your mat (like the finger pads of a Gecko!).
The natural grippiness and no need for a towell makes cork yoga mats the perfect and safest choice for downward-dog heavy Vinyasa flows, arm balances, and hot yoga.
Image: Baraza Yoga
#4) Cork Yoga Mats Provide Great Support and Cushion
Yogis contemplating switching from plastic to cork based mats can rest assured that texture and quality will not be compromised.
Cork is flexible and pourace, yet sturdy. These qualities, which make cork the perfect material for sealing wine bottles, also make it a great for yoga mats. It’s is firm enough to support a dynamic Ashtanga practice, and soft enough cushion a restorative Yin practice, making it a great all-purpose mat.
#5) Cork is a Fully Natural and Sustainable Material
Compassion for the environment is part and parcel to living a yogic lifestyle. And the bottom line is, mass produced plastic mats create a hefty carbon footprint. Not only do these materials cause environmental damage to produce, they continue to leave a legacy of harm long after we’re done practicing on them. In fact, PVC takes around 450 years to decompose.
Cork, meanwhile, is a fully natural and sustainable material. Cork is harvested from the bark of the trees so no forests have to be cut down. In fact, removing the bark every nine year is critical for the continued growth of the tree. And, since the material is derived from completely natural resources, it is recyclable and biodegradable.
Cork Forest in Portugal
Not all Cork Yoga Mats are Created Equal
Not all cork yoga mats have the same level of integrity built into their fibres.
Cork-plastic combinations and mass produced, low quality versions are becoming increasingly common, and they are subject to the same environmental hazards as plastic static yoga mats.
To be sure that you’re getting pure cork from ethical production sources, make sure to only buy Portuguese Cork.
Ready to Make the Switch to a Cork Yoga Mat?
Gecko cork yoga mats are crafted in Portugal, using premium local cork. We only partner with facilities that guarantee livable wages and safe working environments. We’re committed to building a conscious supply chain to guarantee that our products live up to the core principles of the yogi lifestyle.
To shop our cork yoga mats & blocks, click here.