When it comes to finding the right yoga mat for a heated vinyasa practice, your sweaty hands need to know they can rely on the square piece of material beneath you, no slipping allowed. From the trusty rubber of Lululemon to the more eco-luxe and colorful initiatives out there, it seems our satisfaction had been met with a myriad of options. Yet, the unexpected happened when cork yoga mats arrived at the Sporteluxe office, and three curious and qualified yogis set out to test them. Yogi guru Kate Kendall, Bianca Cheah and I experienced the new eco-friendly material, and here’s what we found.
Slip or Grip? 3 yoga instructors on cork yoga mats
We’re no strangers to yoga mats and their grip factor. Our initial reactions were somewhat apprehensive: How can this smooth-to-the-touch mat have any grip? But cork, as you may have noticed with that bottle of merlot, is super absorbent.
My sweaty yoga session was a success, and the 4mm Cork Leaf Mat was there for me through thick and thin. Literally. The cork texture provided a soft, subtle extra padding (perfect for sensitive knees!). I could also seamlessly transition from upward dog to downward dog – a definitive, telltale transition in terms of slip ‘n’ grip-ness.
Sporteluxe’s own Bianca Cheah seemed sold on the concept after a few sessions;
“When I love something, I pretty much stick to it. But since the cork yoga mats have been making a bit of an entrance in the Sporteluxe office, I had to try one. I trialed them over a few practices and was super impressed. I expected them to be slippery, but they kept me upright and in one place. Would I recommend? Totally, and my favorite part is that they’re eco-friendly. Win, win!”
For Kate Kendall, it was all about transitioning;
“I like it because it’s easy to roll over the toes from chaturanga to upward dog, and again to lift up and slowly roll over the toes to down dog. It helps me build more core strength by transitioning smoothly.”
Collectively, we all agreed the cork felt great under our hands and feet. The smell was not that of an overly processed rubber alternative, and when you spend a lot of time face down, the smell of your yoga mat becomes an issue. In a way, it felt like doing yoga as nature intended: on a soft but supportive, earthy texture. By savasana, we were all cork converts.
Why you should cork it
You may know it as the little stub that stays between you and your sacred vino on a Friday night, but cork is a seriously awesome, underestimated material. Aside from bottles of wine, cork can be used for many things. In particular, entrepreneurs have shown a growing interest in cork for its sustainable eco-friendly properties.
Cork is made from the bark of a tree commonly found in the Mediterranean area around Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Morocco and Tunisia. The cork is harvested by stripping down the bark of trees, which naturally regrows. There’s no cutting down or wasteful residue in the process, making it an ideal renewable resource.
In terms of your yoga mat, the antimicrobial properties help to repel mold and mildew away, which means it’s practically self-cleaning and doesn’t smell – ever.
Where to get your cork fix
Aussie brand, Cork Leaf offers natural yoga mats made from natural and recycled cork backed with natural tree rubber. They are 100% biodegradable and sustainable, and as reviewed above, can really stick through the sweatiest times. Cork Leaf are taking their eco initiatives very seriously, which is why they plant a tree for every mat you buy.
This new Aussie brand has its finger on the pulse when it comes to combining beach vibes and city style. Along with their neoprene totes and bohemian round towels, Chuchka has launched a range of cork yoga mats. Expect ethnic and tribal prints that are both functional and chic. We fully approve.
Handmade in the USA, Yoloha is focused on sustainability and durability. The use one of the most eco-friendly harvesting methods in the world. A look at their website lets you know you can use cork for just about anything (cork yoga bottles and yoga wheels?!). The cork itself is sourced from trees in the Mediterranean area and harvested by stripping down the bark of trees every nine years. No cutting down or wasteful residue in the process! Aside from their high-quality sustainability methods, the cork yoga mats also come in a variety of styles and prints. They’re likely to suit even the most stylish yogis around.