There’s been a lot of talk about reducing plastic waste recently – and with good reason! But did you know that standard yoga mats are produced from PVC, which simply put, is also a petrochemical product! PVC is also rarely recycled, and when buried or burned releases dioxin – a known carcinogen. Taking hundreds of years to decompose… Our pvc yoga mats leave behind a legacy none of us should be proud of.
I was intrigued when Jyoti, founder of the small UK based company Cork Space, offered me a cork yoga mat to try out and review. Although I have tried out a couple of eco mats in the past, most of them were pure rubber or fabric.
The cork yoga mat arrived in a brown cardboard box, and Jyoti has assured me that all their new stock ships without any plastic packaging and they are only using paper to protect the mats. It also comes with a black fabric carry strap, which doubles as a looped yoga belt (handy!).
So the first thing all yoga students ask me when they are looking for a yoga matt recommendation, is for one that isn’t slippery. When I first felt the surface of the Cork Space mat, I was convinced that it wasn’t going to have enough grip for the likes of warrior poses or downward facing dogs – mainly because the surface feels very soft to the touch. But actually grip on the matt is good once you get use to trusting the softer less sticky surface, and if more grip is required, you can splash water on the matt – which really works! The matt has got a bit of ‘give’ in it – as in, it slightly stretches between your feet, but it’s only very slight and I don’t mind it. But what I love most is that the mat feels warm to the touch, and very velvety. It’s super comfortable, and I have loved it for my head balance practice at the studio where the floors are quite hard.
The mat itself is not the lightest matt I have owned, a tad lighter than my previous Lululemon matt weighing in at 2.4kg. But I like a weighty mat because it feels a bit more solid underfoot, and the cushioning is great at 4mm! Somehow, although the same thickness as my previous matt, it does feel much softer under my knees (which my knees are grateful for).
So what’s it really made of? As you can see in the photos, the top layer is cork, which Jyoti says they source from Portugal. Cork is a remarkably sustainable material which is also 100% bio-dregradable. The base is made of natural rubber, which is non-toxic and also sustainable.
Lastly, let’s talk pricing. Considering you can pick up a yoga mat at a large outlet store (which shall remain nameless) for around £15, at £59 the Cork Space mat seems pricey. But consider the long term impact of your £15 vs £59 spent. The more we yogis choose to spend less than £20 on yoga mats, the more of a market is created for cheap mass-produced mats. And on a more realistic price scale, it’s actually cheaper than the better quality and similar thickness/weight mats from the bigger well-known name brands. I’m all for supporting small businesses who are transparent about their sourcing and production methods, and at the same price of a pair quality yoga leggings, I can highly recommend investing in a Corkspace matt . Mine will be making it’s way to all my yoga classes from now on.