A Cork Yoga mat is an eco-friendly alternative to the ‘usual’ rubber based yoga mat. Just because it’s made from natural materials does not mean performance has to suffer, in fact, quite the opposite. The yogis at Surya Namaskar kindly sent us one of their cork mats to review. I’ve just done a 20 minute ‘flow’ on their cork mat. It’s the first time I’ve used a cork mat, usually I use a 5mm non slip rubber yoga mat so this was an intriguing swap. Firstly, I should point out that Surya Namaskar sent me this mat through the post, so I can review from the perspective of someone receiving as a gift too! It arrived in an attractive, sleek box, nicely branded and inside I found a lovely little note about the mat in a tiny booklet and also the yoga carry strap (that can also be used for deeper yoga stretches during your sessions). Aesthetically, the mat itself is simple, elegant with a small Surya Namaskar logo branded into the corner (no markers or feet alignment lines incidentally). Importantly, it didn’t contain any excess packaging, that’s a big bug bear of mine, supermarkets should be ashamed of themselves…but I digress. Describing the mat, it’s 183cm long by 61cm wide, that’s ample in my opinion for even the tallest of yogis. I’m 6ft 1 inch and 14.5 stone but I was able to comfortably stretch, step and hold on the mat. In terms of thickness, it’s 4mm, which was adequate cushioning, in fact it felt no different to my usual rubber mat for a whole range of positions. I suppose another 1mm of thickness would provide slightly more comfort on pressure poses for elbows and knees. One of the biggest positives about this mat is the ‘grippiness’. To explain further, we need to go a little bit scientific; harvested from the bark of the Quercus Suber (or Cork Oak) the cork layer is non-absorbent or hydrophilic to be technically correct, so it works wonderfully well when wet. I didn’t use the Surya Namaskar mat in a hot yoga session but I can imagine it works brilliantly. I used my spray bottle to create a damp surface and carried on with my ‘flow’, great performance and excellent traction (don’t forget, I’m a heavy male!)…I was using the mat on a kitchen vinyl tile floor and the rubber base stayed put – no face planting the floor, thank goodness. The grip factor means that the mat could be used equally as effectively in a Pilates or HIIT exercise session. One other thing that sits very well with us at The Active Life, is the environmentally friendly features of the mat. I know lots of yogis who pride themselves on reducing their waste footprint and enjoy a more organic, non-chemical approach to life, and the equipment they use in their yoga flows is no different in this regard. Referring back to the Quercus Suber ‘Cork Oak’, when it’s bark is harvested, the tree absorbs 4 to 5 times more carbon dioxide than their non-harvested counterparts – that is crazy! Heaven forbid you give up yoga and throw the mat away, it’s 100% biodegradable too. It’s also 100% vegan in its production methods. I had reservations that cork mats would be a faff to clean and maintain but I’m a convert. The cork layer is anti-microbial which means it’s going to harbour less bacteria, sweat and dirt from church halls and leisure centre floors! You can see the mat’s non absorbent qualities in this video: It can be wiped clean after each session or for a more thorough cleansing you could use a cloth with warm soapy water – it dries incredibly quickly due to the hydrophilic properties we talked about earlier. Interestingly there is no ‘rubber’ smell, unlike even the most well renowned yoga mat brands, these are natural materials and therefore do not have an odour if it’s maintained and looked after properly. So there you have it, a top quality cork layered yoga mat from Surya Namaskar, ideal for yogis looking for an eco-friendly, grippy, low maintenance yoga mat that works tremendously when wet. The price point is slightly cheaper than the cork mats offered by brands like Asana Tree and Gaiam. Check out the Surya Namaskar Cork Mat yourselves on their Amazon store page.
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