Ever wonder why you are performing a mindful, longevity practice on something made of plastic? We had the same question!
As it turns out, cork is one of the best sustainable materials to make a yoga mat! I have listed our 5 top reasons you should be using a cork yoga mat below.
"Yoga does not just change the way we see things, it transforms the person who sees." - B.K.S Iyengar
1. No Harsh Chemicals or Toxins
You might already know what this section is about from the title, but cork is a natural product, and so are most cork yoga mats. Many cork yoga mats have a cork top layer and a recycled or natural rubber bottom layer. That dual-layer provides a lot of support while also keeping the product as natural as possible.
Natural rubber is not the rubber that first comes to most of our minds. Natural rubber can be made from various plants, but the most famous is the rubber tree. The one thing a plant needs to produce to be made into rubber is natural latex. (this is not the same type of latex as medical gloves) The example of natural latex we all are most familiar with is the milky white substance a dandelion leaks when you break the stem.
The cork does not need to be chemically finished, and neither does the rubber bottom. This means you won't be breathing in harsh chemicals when in child's pose.
2. Anti-microbial and Anti-fungal
One of corks wonders is that it is naturally resistant to a lot of not so great things! From your run of the mill germs to the fungus that causes athlete's foot, these pesky little guys don't want to make their home in cork. One reason that cork is an inhospitable environment to dust mites, germs, and fungi is the suberin lining that acts as a barrier between the cork and anything wanting to live in the cork.
The properties that keep germs out of the cork make it an excellent choice for anyone with sensitive skin, eczema, or allergies. Cork is rated as a hypo-allergic material so you can practice yoga, do a core workout, or even a barre workout breathing easy.
3. Easy to Clean
The suberin lining mentioned above has some benefits besides keeping out irritants. One of my favorites is that it makes the mat super easy to clean. Unlike traditional plastic yoga mats where sweat and dead skin can be trapped in the plastic, cork mats can be wiped clean with just a little water.
We recommend you wipe down your mat every few uses and leave it out to dry. This will prevent any build-up of grime on the cork.
4. No-Slip Grip
For anyone else that likes to get their sweat on in hot yoga, you know the frustration of how slippery your mat gets as the session wears on. With cork, your grip actually improves as you sweat!
The cork will absorb a bit of water or sweat, causing friction to build between your hands and the mat, which prevents your hands and feet from slipping in the last downward dog.
5. Sustainable Material
Cork comes from the bark of a specific subspecies of an oak tree that is native to the Mediterranean region. The cork oak tree (Quercus suber) has been a vital natural resource to the area for millennia. As far back as ancient Egypt, it has been used to make floats, stoppers, and even shoes! The ancient Greeks made the discovery that if the tree bark was removed in the winter, through a process called stripping, the bark would grow back. This made it a sustainable natural resource as they didn't have to wait for a new tree to grow each time the bark was harvested.
In modern times, the tree is harvested for the first time when it is roughly 20 years old. After the first harvest, the tree can be harvest every 7 years on average for the tree's natural lifespan. On average, the trees live for between 150 and 250 years. Whistler Tree, the oldest known cork tree, was planted in 1783 5 years before the U.S. Constitution was ratified.
Since cork is the bark of a tree, it is entirely compostable. This means when your plastic yoga mat is just starting its journey in a landfill, the cork mat will have begun the biodegrading process. This makes it a natural winner in the yoga mat debate.
"Change only happens in the present moment. The past is already one. The future is just energy and intention." - Kino MacGregor