There are many yoga mats in the market. Beautiful, sturdy ones and thinner ones that are just as durable. To choose the right one for you, the best material for yoga is essential.
There are a few factors to consider when buying the best yoga mat material. First, the material should be durable. While thickness does not mean a whole deal, it does count for something. Secondly, the best yoga material is one that offers you sufficient grip as you start your poses. You would not want to be moving around the class because your mat does not support your body at all. Thirdly, the best material is one that is as toxin-free as possible. It is really huge bonus if you also go for products that are completely environmentally friendly.
Here is a look at all the top-notch materials for a yoga mat
PVC (Polymerizing Vinyl Chloride)
PVC stands for Polymerizing Vinyl Chloride and it is mainly made of plastic. This material can therefore withstand normal wear and tear and is also easy to clean. PVC also offers a good grip with the floor when designed with yoga mats. On the flipside, PVC is not an absorbent material. When you go for intense yoga sessions or hot yoga, you might end up sweating heavily. PVC mats tend to give away and become slippery when wet. They are also largely toxin free but they are not bio-degradable or as eco-friendly as other similar priced mats. A pro feature is that it is latex free and safe for use by those with latex allergies.
PVC is mostly composed of plastic that is modified to be highly durable. It also offers enough grip so that you won’t be slipping about when you start your yoga poses. However, this grip is not as good when the mat comes in contact with moisture. After sweaty sessions, the mat tends to become slippery because the material is not absorbent.
While PVC is latex-free, it has its fair share of harsh elements. For example, some PVC yoga mats have phthalates, cadmium and lead. Together, they can pose a number of health issues. A study by analysts even found that these toxins can lead to hormone disruption as well.
Fortunately, some PVC mats are manufactured without phthalates and other toxins. However there are no PVC mats that are entirely biodegradable.
- Easy to clean
- Offers perfect grip for yoga poses
- Latex free
- Tears easily
- Spongy and sticky
PVC is safe to use for people with sensitive skin as well. It is latex-free. However, it is not eco-friendly compared to similar products in its price range. PVC is not biodegradable.
Cork is a highly sustainable material. To do your part in protecting the environment, consider ditching your plastic mat for one made out of cork.
Cork refers to the outer bark of a cork oak tree. This kind of tree mostly grows in the Mediterranean region and can continue growing for up to 200 years. Cork is eco-friendly because it is recyclable and no trees are cut to make these mats. Cork is harvested from the oak trees without any actual felling. In fact, cork is harvested every 10 years or so. This is sufficient enough so as to not place a huge toll on rubber trees for the production of this product.
One of the unique features of a cork yoga mat is that it self-cleans because of its antibacterial properties. In fact, according to the experts, cork mats clean themselves substantially after just 90 minutes of incubation. To add, cork has a substance called Suberin that repels insects. With this material, you can therefore be assured of a healthy surface for your yoga exercise.
Yoga mats made from cork give you a proper grip even after the sweatiest yoga sessions. In fact, you can even get better drip the more you sweat. You do not have to constantly have a towel handy for yoga sessions anymore.
Because of its material composition and the fact that it cleans itself, Cork yoga mats usually have a long service life. When it has wear and tear, you can give it a new look by simply sanding it. This is enough to maintain your mat clean for long lasting use of it.
- Fewer slip ups on the mat
- Repels hair, dust and water buildup
- Soft and warm
- Highly durable
- Sticky when wet mostly
These mats are gentle to the environment because they are made from non-harvested, rubber trees.
Natural rubber, cotton and jute are some of the best eco-friendly options. While they have their quirks, this alone makes such mats the best options. An example of such a mat is Manduka eKO Lite Mat.
- Safe on the environment as no toxic chemicals are included
- Thick and well-padded for comfort
- Not the best pick for people with latex allergies
Rubber yoga mats are designed to be sticky when wet. To achieve the desired grip you can use a spray water bottle to slightly wet the surface.
Fairly recent in the market, a combo mat offers a blend of various materials for the best of all worlds.
Combo mars refer to those that comprise of a traditional yoga mat fused with a non-slip liner. This ensures you get the best of both worlds. You get optimal comfort because of the durable and padded base. You also get more grip because the non-slip surface on the top keeps you firmly placed on your mat.
Because of its unique blend, this combo material can be created in all sorts of designs. Indeed, some of the most beautiful yoga mats are made of combo materials. An example is the Aurorae Synergy towel/yoga mat.
- Toxin free
- Sufficient grip even during sweaty yoga sessions
- Quite pricey compared to the average yoga mat
Jute fabric reinforced PVC
This is a blend of jute and PVC that is eco-friendly. As already stated, PVC is mainly plastic material. Jute on the other hand sprung up from South Eastern Asia where the need for highly resistant yoga mats arose. If you are looking for a non-toxic mat that is also kind to the environment, you will not go wrong with this. An example of such a mat is Affirmats Yoga Mats. This particular product even has inspirational messages written on it to motivate you to continue with your journey. Examples are “I am enough” and “I am free”.
- Slip resistant
- Thick enough (5mm)
- Free of toxins such as heavy metals, phthalates and latex
Natural and eco-friendly, cotton yoga mats are good for a number of reasons. First, they offer you slightly less grip on the floor compared to other materials. However, their natural texture comes in to save you from slipping about as they provide traction for your body. Eco-friendly mats like cotton should be on your shopping list if sustainability is something you are keen on following.
Cotton was one of the earliest used materials because of its comfort, eco-friendliness and grip. Cotton yoga mats are highly absorbent so you need not worry about sweating too much in class.
- Highly absorbent, ideal for sweaty workouts
- Comfortable when designed on a plush mat
- A bit more expensive than regular yoga mats
If you come across a yoga mat that does not clearly state what material it is made out of, know it is most likely a PVC mat. Also, mats that are branded as made from foam are also PVC. This is the most common material known for its durability and sturdiness.
Secondly, if you are allergic to latex you should avoid rubber mats.
Also, beware that just because a company says its products are environmentally friendly does not mean they are. Given that climate change is a worrying phenomenon, some companies use environmental concerns as a marketing gimmick. They claim a product is eco-friendly entice those looking to do their part in saving the environment
In a nutshell, the best material for a yoga mat has to be designed solely for that purpose. Practicing yoga involves a lot of stretching and moving about. When you get into practicing hot yoga, you also sweat a lot. The best material is one which protects you from this. You don’t want to be sliding about when everyone is serene in class.
This article has highlighted all the best materials. Between PVC, natural rubber, TPE and cork- the best pick would ultimately be the most environmentally friendly of them. More yogis around the world are ditching toxic mats for natural ones. While they have their own drawbacks, it is well worth the purchase.
When buying yoga mats, you need to consider one with the best material. This article has highlighted some of the best options available. Ultimately, the best material mat is one with sufficient grip and thickness. It also helps to have one that is environmentally friendly.