In modern times you will come across yoga mats made from different materials. Each material has its own set of pros and cons. Whilst some mats are more durable some are more comfortable. Whilst some provide better grip, some are more eco-friendly. You need thorough awareness of the positives and negatives of each material, and accordingly, decide the right fit for you.
1. PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)
Polyvinyl Chloride or otherwise known as vinyl is the most common and cheap material used to make yoga mats. It’s a synthetic plastic polymer or a hydrocarbon product that makes PVC cheap, lightweight, super grippy, and flexible.
PVC yoga mats come with a great range of variety to their quality. Some companies produce low-quality PVC yoga mats at low cost. Whereas some PVC mats are produced with high-density, for increased cushioning and moisture proofing. PVC has an environment-friendly variant which is known as Polymer Environmental Resin.
2. Natural Rubber
Natural rubber is probably the best material option there is for yoga mats, and has been in the market for a very long time; longer than foam and PVC. The rubber for these mats derived from nature, Hevea brasiliensis rubber tree, and is thus very easily biodegradable. The natural rubber yoga mats have a slightly hard surface, but they make up for it with their firm grip.
Note that this should not be confused with synthetic industrial-grade rubber. Natural rubber as a material is composed of organic polymers, few other organic impurities, and water.
3. TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomer)
TPE or Thermoplastic is yet another popular and modern alternative material for yoga mats. This material is basically a mix of plastic and rubber, and thus, you get the best of both worlds. TPE has both thermoplastic properties and elastomeric properties. The thermoplastic properties make these mats recyclable, strong, bendable, shrink resistant, lightweight, impact-resistant, and chemical resistant. Whereas the elastomeric properties make these mats, flexible, heat resistant, and long-lasting.
4. NBR: Synthetic rubber
Synthetic Rubber is your typical industrial-grade rubber, something you will find commonly being used in automobiles. Synthetic rubber has high performance and durability but leaves a prominent carbon footprint. NBR or Nitrile Butadiene Rubber has very good insulation and equally good cushioning.
5. Natural Rubber and Polyurethane (PU)
This material is an innovation of the current times and is a genuinely worthy consideration. Yoga mats made of a combination of natural rubber and polyurethane material blends the texture and sustainability of natural materials and the toughness and durability of industrial synthesizing.
The natural rubber itself is a great material for a yoga mat like we have discussed earlier. Polyurethane is essentially biodegradable plastic. Now adding Polyurethane to it makes the mat better insulated, flexible, and cushioned, which are otherwise unavailable with natural rubber. Adding Polyurethane also cuts down on the cost of pure rubber.
6. EVA (Ethylene Vinyl acetate)
EVA is a cost-effective variant of foam. It does not wear off as quickly as the usual variants of foam. The EVA mats are very commonly found in the market and come at very affordable prices. The modern cheap stylish floor mats available are mostly of EVA material. EVA is also a popular material for flip-flops.
Jute as a natural material should not require much explanation. This vegetable fibre has been popular with humans throughout history. We have always used jute to weave curtains, cushion covers, rugs, carpets, and such. The question here is how well it fares when it comes to yoga mats. The jute yoga mats are usually blended with a percentage of Polymer Environmental Resin.
8. Cotton and Hemp
Cotton has been the preferred choice of fabric for any cloth across the globe, since ages. The cotton cloths were in fact one of the first yoga mats used by the early yogis. Very few other fibers are as comfortable and soft as cotton, but durability is an issue. Cotton is more appropriate for delicate and sophisticated use. The rough nature of practicing asanas can be too hot to handle for cotton. This is why most cotton yoga mats are blended with hemp, to give them the required tensile strength and durability. There are, however, some mats that are purely of hemp.
Cork is a relatively new material when it comes to yoga mats. It is developed from tree bark, making it absolutely natural. Cork in its natural sense will simply slip off the floor, thus all cork yoga mats have a base of PTE or rubber, to keep them stuck to the ground. Like the other natural materials, cork mats feel good to use, but they come with a range of pros and cons.