Cork is a 100% natural plant tissue native to southwest Europe and northwest Africa. It's Portugal’s biggest and most important exports, and the country alone produces more than 50% of the world’s cork supply.
Cork is most commonly used for wine bottle stoppers since it preserves the properties of the wine over time and ensures that it develops correctly in the bottle, but it's actually super versatile and can be used for a wide array of functions. Within yoga specifically it's popularly used as blocks thanks to its sturdy structure, but we recently discovered additional properties which make it a great material for yoga mats as well!
If you're in need of a new yoga mat, we suggest considering cork mats. Below are five reason why.
1. Cork is natural, biodegradable, and eco-friendly
The main reason we love this material is because it's derived from the bark of the cork oak tree (also known as the Quercus Suber) and obtained through a sustainable harvesting technique that doesn't cut down or harm trees. In fact, the bark grows back and can be re-harvested making cork a renewable resource, and since trees absorb carbon dioxide from the air, supporting cork production actually gives back to nature.
2. Cork is antimicrobial and antibacterial
This means it kills and repels fungi, bacteria and viruses, which is important to consider when purchasing a yoga mat seeing as how traditional mats tend to carry tons of bacteria, germs, and odor - especially after a sweaty practice.
3. Cork is non-toxic
Since cork is essentially the bark of a tree and isn't chemically processed, it doesn't release any harmful or toxic chemicals into the air unlike typical yoga mats, making cork mats a much healthier option.
4. Cork is water-resistant and anti-slip
Cork doesn’t absorb water (which is why it's so often used as wine stoppers). Instead, when the material gets wet it releases a waxy substance called suberin that gives it its grippy, anti-slip quality. You can rest assured that you won't fall face forward in a downward dog or crow pose, the mat's got you!
5. Cork is durable and wear and tear resistant
Thanks to its honeycomb like structure, it's extremely durable and lasts for years without deteriorating. It's also considered a highly-abrasion resistant material.
The bottom line
All these qualities make cork a great surface to practice on. It has plenty of grip and traction which help elevate your performance; it's extremely durable so you can expect it to last years without deteriorating or chipping away; and knowing that it's natural and non-toxic makes yoga classes even more enjoyable, not to mention cork's soft to the touch feel. If you're interested in learning more, check out our sustainable cork yoga mats ethically made in Portugal here.