I recently connected with Christina Cavaco who founded Cork Leaf, a fresh, holistic and innovative online yoga mat company. I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to try out her newest product - a beautifully designed yoga mat made out of sustainable cork.
A yoga mat made from cork?! It certainly piqued my curiosity too! Here is my review of this mat after a few months of practicing on it!
The Corky Surface
The cork material has been meticulously pressed into a sheet leaving a smooth corky finish. The surface was firm but supportive and comfortable for my wrists and ankles. The natural element of the cork was a delight to practice my yoga on. I loved the sense of grounding I got from placing my feet and hands on something natural, rather than on something synthetic. Something as subtle as the texture and feel of the mat actually created a very different yoga experience for me.
The Yoga Grip
In terms of traction and grip, I found this mat to be pretty good. Occasionally, I found it a little difficult to find my footing because the cork surface itself is so smooth. Once I was warmed up though, a little perspiration on the hands actually provided a much better grip. It is also recommended to wet your hands a little too if you want even better grip if you have your water bottle nearby!
From an aesthetic perspective, I loved the design of this mat. The corners are slightly curved and the logo is pressed cleanly into the cork like a stamp. I also found the earthy, natural colour of the cork to be very calming - a big departure from all the intensely coloured yoga mats that I usually see.
Something that I really loved about Cork Leaf is their environmentally considered approach to product design. The mat is created from 100% natural, sustainable and renewable sources. The cork is 100% biodegradable, extracted from the bark of the tree which means that the tree is never cut down. The cork bark regenerates on the trees over 9 years before it is harvested again, which also helps to facilitate a greater rate of carbon dioxide absorption. In addition, Cork Leaf has teamed up with Carbon Neutral where one tree is planted for every mat sold!
Looking After the Mat
I found myself treating this mat with more care than I would other yoga mats because the pressed cork surface appears to be delicate. I found myself concerned that the cork surface would crack if I folded it or scratched it by accident. It was also advisable to store the mat flat to avoid any cracks forming but I have been keeping it gently rolled up. So far, I have been using it for about 2 months and haven’t noticed any cracks (fingers crossed)!
Despite the fact that cork is very water resistant and the material is meant to be naturally anti-microbial, I would still be hesitant to take this mat into a heated yoga room as I would be worried that the humidity may damage the material. The website does say that the mat is suitable for bikram yoga too, but I am yet to try this myself. Currently, I treat it as my deluxe yoga mat for my home practice!
Value for Money
At $125 AUD, the price point is definitely higher than a lot of other mass produced PVC yoga mats on the market. But its not a mass produced product. In addition using sustainable cork and a completely different process for making the yoga mat means we cannot really make a direct comparison against a normal PVC mat. However, I would definitely hope to see the value of this mat deliver in its durability.
Overall, I think this is a brilliant eco-friendly yoga mat alternative. More importantly, I think it is so inspiring to see so many small companies and entrepreneurs such as Cork Leaf that have a strong environmental or social focus, inspiring consumers to think more consciously about the products they choose to bring into their lives.