The majority of the worlds yoga mats are made from mass-produced throw-away plastics like PVC, that end up being incinerated or buried in landfill. This leads to the release of harmful toxins or their breakdown into micro plastics that leach into our oceans. Sadly there is no safe way to dispose of plastic yoga mats.
As more and more yogis are seeking environmentally friendly alternatives - cork has emerged as one of the most promising materials. Here are the top 5 reasons to look more closely at cork as an alternative for your next Yoga mat.
1. Cork Gives You Better Grip
Nothing saps your energy or focus like having to constantly re-adjust your position on the mat because you're slipping all over the place. Unlike a synthetic yoga mat that loses its grip when wet, which can be both dangerous and uncomfortable, cork works just the opposite. By releasing a waxy compound known as Suberin, the more you sweat the grippier cork becomes. This will keep you firmly planted so you can remain focused on your practice.
2. Cork is Self-Cleaning
Cork is naturally antimicrobial: it contains compounds called phenolics which kills bacteria and fungus. This keeps your mat clean and free from the odour of perspiration. Whilst synthetic yoga mats often absorb and retain bad smells, cork naturally repels odours and emits a very subtle woody fragrance. This makes cork a great choice for hot yoga or for yoga studios looking to keep their shared equipment hygienic.
3. Cork provides Stability
Photo credit: 42yogis
The cork surface has a unique texture that is both elastic and firm. Million of tiny air bubbles inside each cork cell act to cushion and rebound weight. By absorbing energy on impact It keeps you stable on your mat, supporting you in even the most demanding postures.
4. Cork is Beautiful to Touch
Corks is beautifully soft to touch and feels great on bare skin. It has a smooth velvety texture (non-sticky) and Its hypoallergenic qualities make it ideal for anyone with sensitive skin. Despite being soft to the touch, cork remains durable and can handle repeated, demanding use.
5. Cork is Sustainable
Cork is a natural raw material that is 100% biodegradable, recyclable and renewable. Cork is harvested by stripping the bark of the cork oak tree. The tree lives on just fine (no tree is cut down to produce cork) and as the tree regrows its bark it absorbs up to 3 times more CO2 from the air. Providing a net positive effect towards combating global warming. It is estimated that cork oak trees in Portugal alone help offset 10 million tons of carbon every year.
If you want to reduce your reliance on plastic and contribute towards a greener future, it may be time to look at the alternatives. Cork has a surprising number of positive qualities that make it a perfect fit for practicing yoga on.
Want to explore more about how you can make yoga and ecology work together? Stay in a yoga and eco retreat and you will turn over a new leaf in your life.