If you are a yoga lover and found in most yoga classes, or practice yoga at home, even if you have just started practicing yoga, Wherever and whenever you practice, a proper yoga mat is essential, because yoga mats are used for cushioning and traction, when you do asana or pose. However, in modern times with the choice of yoga mats made of various materials in the market, it becomes a bit difficult to choose the best yoga mat materials.
Since the materials used in yoga mats are not only more important to your practice but also make you more comfortable and stable in your poses and are also a safety gauge for overall health.
Each material has its own pros and cons. Some mats are comfy and cushiony, while others are snuggly and portable; Others are more durable, and you may also want your mat to be eco-friendly.
An awareness of the positive and negative aspects of each yoga mat material before you can have an idea of what characteristics would be better or worse for you and your routine, and accordingly, decide on the right yoga mat for you. (It will help you select a mat that fits your personal needs).
Here’s what you need to know about the different types of materials used to make yoga mats, before buying your yoga mat.
Different Types of Yoga Mat Materials
In modern times, yoga mats are made from various materials such as natural rubber, chemical polyvinyl chloride (PVC), thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), polymer environmental resin (PER), jute, cotton, cork, etc. For some users, the material used in the manufacture of the mat doesn’t matter provided everything else is taken into account, while for some others, it is an important one.
1. Natural Rubber Yoga Mat
Natural rubber mats are the most common and probably the best material choice. They are made from tree-borne rubber, a renewable resource. The surface of the mat is a bit hard, but eco-friendly, with incredible grip and great comfort. New rubber mats have a rubbery smell that usually fades away over time.
Unlike other mats, it contains EVA or other synthetic rubber which poses a minimal environmental hazard.
Natural rubber yoga mats are good at soaking up sweat and water, so they compensate for this with their strong grip. This mat provides a great cushion, and even high tensile strength reduces tearing.
Made from tree rubber, these mats have been in the market for a very long time; Longer than foam and PVC.
Natural rubber mats provide premium cushioning to support the joints and muscles while doing yoga. However, they require a lot of maintenance and need to be cleaned frequently. If too much pressure is applied, it can leave imprint marks of the body or hands, which can be difficult to achieve in its texture. And it can be hard to work out a pressed-down mat. They can be thick, heavy, and have a strong odor which can be difficult to handle and travel with.
2. PVC Yoga Mat
This plastic-based material known as vinyl is very durable, provides a floor grip, is flexible, and is easy to clean as well. Polyvinyl Chloride is the most common and cheap material used to make yoga mats. For example, ProLite (Manduka) or B’Rock (Beanx) yoga mats use high-density PVC.
These mats efficiently stick to the ground and are high-density mats, which minimizes the chances of you slipping during the pose.
But PVC yoga mats cannot absorb sweat. If you sweat a lot while doing yoga, then this option is not suitable as you may become mat. As PVC is latex-free, people with allergies to latex can use this mat. But this material is not eco-friendly as it is not biodegradable.
Note: People with asthma or other breathing issues should avoid using a PVC yoga mat.
3. TPE (thermoplastic elastomer) Yoga Mat
TPE material is actually a combination of plastic and rubber polymers which makes them durable, and elastic and provides soft cushioning. Its thermoplastic properties make TPE mats reusable.
As its texture is ultra soft and gel-like, these yoga mats are light in weight, high in quality, and last a very long time. And its thermoplastic properties make TPE mats reusable.
TPE mats are highly durable and long-lasting and the biodegradable, odorless, and incredibly light weight makes them travel friendly.
Compared to PVC models, TPE mats are eco-friendly and completely recyclable. However, they are less durable but still deliver good traction. And besides, they are less expensive, as well. They are not suitable for people who are serious about practicing yoga regularly.
4. NBR or Nitrile Butadiene(Synthetic rubber) Yoga Mat
NBR is a synthetic rubber commonly used in automobiles. It has become popular among yoga mats because the NBR has great insulation and equally good cushioning.
Mats made from NBR are very cost-effective and are available at various prices. This mat is highly durable and withstands less wear and tear. This is a solid option if you’re just starting out, or have a tight budget. However, NBR mats are very hazardous to the environment.
5. Jute Yoga Mat
Jute as a natural material has been popular among humans throughout history. This natural fiber obtained from a plant of the genus Corchorus is used for curtains, cushion covers, rugs, and rugs. Minimum pesticides are required for jute production. Jute yoga mats have one side of Jute and the other of PVC or PER.
Jute mats are very light and can withstand wear and tear for a long time. They are also called go-green yoga mats. Because of its eco-friendly nature, people are nowadays preferring jute yoga mats. As it has excellent breathing quality, they are perfect for practicing many yoga asanas like Trikonasana, Tadasana, Vrikshasan, and others. They are durable and affordable as well. However, this type of yoga mat material is not as comfortable and bouncy as rubber PVC mats.
6. EVA (Ethylene-vinyl acetate) Yoga Mat
Ethylene-vinyl acetate makes up the EVA yoga mat. EVA yoga mats come at very affordable prices and are soft and flexible which gives them a good cushioning capability. They are moisture-resistant, budget-friendly, and easy to clean after the session which makes them suitable for studio use and those who practice yoga every day.
With more use, the thickness of the EVA mat can become flat and less useful.
7. Cotton Yoga Mat
These types of yoga mat materials are usually very common in Indian households. They have a high absorbing capacity of the seat and are very easy to wash as well. The texture of this yoga mat is similar to that of an extra-thick cotton blanket.
Besides providing good grip while doing yoga (long or short sessions), they also provide great comfort as well. However, cotton yoga mats are not as durable as other materials. They are a bit expensive compared to other types (PVC or rubber options).
How To Choose
The material from which your yoga mat is made can have a physical impact on your performance during your regular routine. Some yoga mat materials offer better grip than others: PVC, commonly used in less expensive yoga mats, is a bit slippery. Mats made from moldable materials such as synthetic rubber or recycled plastics often have slightly raised textures and patterns which can be a disadvantage.
Meanwhile, materials like cork and cotton are more options for a yoga class like Bikram, Vinyasa, and Power Yoga.
Compared to the regular yoga mats, padded cushioned yoga mats are very soft and comfortable. Typically, a cushioned yoga mat comprises two parts – the part (foam) and the outer part (the removable fabric cover).
They are suitable for people who practice hatha yoga, which involves a lot of asanas that require you to sit, stand or lie down. Although these yoga mats provide good support are compared to average. But in terms of catch, they are no good. Therefore, you may experience slipping or falling while doing something generated while using the padded mat. The main drawback of using padded mats is they cannot be completely washed. Only the outer part is washable and the inner foam is truly non-washable.
If your yoga practice involves a lot of hatha yoga or yin yoga, even then a standard yoga mat is sufficient. As you will not get completely sweaty with these yoga asanas. So, average traction with a yoga mat will be just fine.
If you are going to practice ashtanga or vinyasa, or power yoga, then you have to invest in mat that has the ability to absorb sweat and has strong traction. For extra absorption, you can spread the mat with a textured yoga towel.
There are plenty of companies making mats out of less harmful materials, usually including natural rubber, durable cork, or recycled plastics. Everyone has their own experience, but we’ve found that a material like embossed rubber or cotton is a little less slippery.
All the above-mentioned yoga mat materials are best and safe to use, but there is still confusion on which one to choose. We recommend Eco-friendly yoga mats made from TPE, and PVC materials including natural rubber, organic cotton, and jute, why because these are specially designed to withstand the toughest of sessions and have double-sided non-slip surfaces with thick cushions. It is the perfect choice for beginners, intermediate or regular users.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about yoga mat materials:
- What are the most common materials used for yoga mats?
The most common materials used for yoga mats include PVC (polyvinyl chloride), TPE (thermoplastic elastomer), natural rubber, and cork.
- What are the benefits of PVC yoga mats?
PVC yoga mats are affordable, lightweight, and durable. They also provide good traction and grip, making them a popular choice for yoga practitioners.
- Are TPE yoga mats eco-friendly?
Yes, TPE yoga mats are eco-friendly as they are made from non-toxic and recyclable materials. They are also biodegradable and free from harmful chemicals.
- What are the benefits of natural rubber yoga mats?
Natural rubber yoga mats are eco-friendly, biodegradable, and non-toxic. They provide excellent grip and cushioning, making them a great choice for practitioners who prefer a more natural and sustainable material.
- Are cork yoga mats durable?
Yes, cork yoga mats are highly durable and can last for many years. They are also eco-friendly and provide good grip and cushioning.
- What are the benefits of using an eco-friendly yoga mat?
Eco-friendly yoga mats are made from sustainable materials that are free from harmful chemicals. They are better for the environment and also safer for the practitioner, as they do not emit any harmful toxins.
- Can I clean my yoga mat with water?
Most yoga mats can be cleaned with water, but it is important to check the care instructions for your specific mat. Some mats may require special cleaning products or methods.
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