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You may have noticed a new mat color among the shades of black, gray, and the occasional blue in your yoga class—a natural-looking brown. You’ve spotted a cork yoga mat. Due to their low environmental impact, durability, and strong grip, cork yoga mats are gaining popularity among yogis of all levels. If you’re deciding whether or not to make the switch from a rubber mat to a cork mat, here’s what you need to know—and which cork yoga mats to buy.
Why use a cork yoga mat?
Cork is a sustainable material that’s much more environmentally-friendly than the rubber used in traditional yoga mats. To make a cork yoga mat, bark is peeled off of a cork tree, rather than cutting the tree down. Bark then regrows on the tree years later, ensuring that the process isn’t detrimental to the health or lifespan of the tree (plus, cork groves—which are primarily found in the Mediterranean—absorb millions of tons of carbon dioxide from the air every year). Cork is also biodegradable, which means it can be recycled or composted. So instead of having a rubber-based mat full of toxic plastic pollutants, you can be sure that your mat’s materials won’t end up in a landfill.
See also: These Yoga Mats Take You Back to Nature
6 of the best mats for your practice
Interested in buying your own cork mat? Whether you’re looking for a slightly larger mat or an option with tons of extra grip, we’ve got you covered. Read on to see some of our favorite cork yoga mats.
This antibacterial cork yoga mat is easy to clean—making it the perfect choice for those sweaty practices. Made with an extra layer of cork to keep your feet steady as you move through a sequence, this mat will ensure you’re not slipping and sliding. You may even find yourself grateful for every drop of sweat during your practice, as the more you sweat, the grippier this mat becomes. So you’ll no longer find yourself desperately trying to wipe the sweat off your face before it hits the mat! Weird, I know. But it works. $119
Made with 100 percent natural and sustainably-sourced materials, this cork yoga mat from Second Wind is good for the environment—and your practice. At 68 inches long, 24 inches wide, and 5 millimeters thick, this mat is also longer, wider, and thicker than your typical yoga mat. Plus, the cool lace design brings an element of beauty—and fun—to the mat. $130
This mat is made with an all-natural cork top and an all-natural rubber bottom. It’s also quick-drying, so you can be assured that all of that sweat and water will disappear right into your mat. Like other cork mats, it becomes grippy when damp, making it a great choice for outdoor practices on humid days or in-studio hot yoga classes. If you opt to use it for a non-heated practice (one without a lot of sweating), the makers of the mat at B Yoga recommend spraying it with some water before you start your practice in order to increase the mat’s grip. $94
Support a Black woman-owned small business with the purchase of one of their Y.O.G.A. (your own growing awareness) mats. At four millimeters thick, this mat gives you enough support—without providing too much cushion. Since these mats are made in Portugal before being shipped and packaged in Ohio, delivery times may be a bit longer. But hey, supporting a new small studio and receiving a great cork mat? We love it. $100
If you’re looking for a more affordable cork yoga mat option, consider this one from 42 Birds. A company centered around promoting eco-consciousness and sustainability in the yoga space, they draw on the beauty of the natural world in the design and creation of all of their products. All of their mats are made from oak trees harvested in the Mediterranean through a sustainable process, while the bottom is coated with a PVC-free, slip-resistant foam. Plus, the purchase of this mat includes a complimentary cotton yoga mat strap. $68
Made with an 100 percent plant-based cork top and a natural rubber bottom, this mat is a great choice for those searching for a nonslip mat. At 72 inches long, it’s made for even the tallest yogi. You’ll never run out of room—even with the most expansive practice. Worried about the environmental footprint of your impending purchase? Gurus will recycle your old yoga mat—for free. Plus, they plant a tree with every purchase. $119