When looking for a yoga mat, you might find some inexpensive ones at big box stores for less than $20. You will also find yoga mats from specific yoga and wellness retailers for greater than $100. So you may be wondering why there's such a difference in cost and why some mats are so expensive.
Yoga mats are expensive because they are made with high-quality material. These mats are eco-friendly and use a detailed production process compared to those made with synthetic material. The initial investment in a quality mat may seem expensive, but long-term, you will be saving money due to its lifespan.
In this article, you will learn more about the materials used to make eco-friendly, higher-end mats. Also the parts of the process used to produce these mats. We will also discuss some of the benefits of investing in a more expensive mat than purchasing a PVC mat from a big box retailer. By the end of the article, the price of yoga mats will seem reasonable and justifiable.
Comparison of Yoga Mats
High-quality, eco-friendly yoga mats are becoming more and more popular as there is more of a shift towards sustainability. More research shows the hazards posed by some of the toxins you may find in a yoga mat. These include phthalates and dioxin, prompting people to invest more money into their mat. Also, natural mats align better with the mindful philosophies of yoga.
Below, you will find descriptions of different types of mats available, from the least expensive to most expensive.
PVC Yoga Mats
You will find the most basic yoga mat made of a plastic material called polyvinyl chloride, or PVC. PVC is a synthetic material produced in large quantities at a rapid rate. This results in a lower price tag and high accessibility than other yoga mats.
However, PVC has toxic qualities posing risks to both humans and the environment. Vinyl is carcinogenic. Deep inhalation is essential to have a productive yoga practice. You also have significant direct skin contact with the mat. This should lead people to consider whether or not the lower cost mat is worth the risks associated.
PVC mats are also a danger to the environment because vinyl produces dioxin, a pollutant, as a byproduct. Additionally, PVC is not recyclable. They are disposed of at a much higher rate than mats made of natural, more durable material and they are incinerated in a landfill. Although PVC mats are quite inexpensive, they begin to chip and flake fast. So you will be buying new mats more often as they have a short life span.
These are the main reasons why yoga mats made of more natural, sustainable materials are more expensive. Below, you will find safer alternatives with an explanation on why they have a heftier price tags.
Cork Yoga Mats
In recent years cork has become a very common type of material for yoga mats. Cork yoga mats have similar properties to PVC mats as they are slip-free with a great grip. However, they provide greater benefits because they are a lot more durable, eco-friendly. Finally they are also have natural antimicrobial and antibacterial properties.
Cork for cork yoga mats is harvested from the outermost layer of bark on the Cork Oak Tree. When the bark is removed, the Cork Oak Tree then starts to regenerate its lost bark naturally. This process takes roughly nine years, and the trees have a lifespan averaging 250 years.
As you can imagine, the process of bark removal is part of the reason cork yoga mats have a higher price tag. These trees also only grow in Mediterranean woodlands and forests, so the material itself is not available or accessible as PVC. This is another reason for the higher cost.
But with the higher costs of cork yoga mats, it is important to note that their durability makes this mat a good investment. Once you invest your money into a cork mat, you will not find yourself needing to buy another yoga mat for a very long time, if ever. The cork is very durable. It is often found as the material floors are made of in exercise gyms and studios because of its durability.
Also, as cork starts to experience some chipping or other wear and tear, the mat can be repaired by sanding it down. The higher cost of cork yoga mats is well-justified and worth it. This is due to the limited accessibility to the Cork Oak Tree and the long lifespan thanks to the significant durability.
Natural Rubber Mats
Yoga mats made of natural rubber are another sustainable and renewable yoga mat with a higher price tag than a PVC mat. Natural rubber is harvested from rubber trees typically found in South East Asia. Although the harvesting process is different. Rubber trees are cut down and replanted instead of having only the bark removed. This explains why natural rubber mats also have a little higher price tag than cork.
Natural rubber mats have many similar benefits to cork. They both score high in terms of sustainability and durability. Many yogis enjoy natural rubber mats as an eco-friendly option because they provide ample cushion and support. It is important to note that natural rubber mats should not be used by people who have latex allergies.
Expensive Prices of Yoga Mats
Again, the range of costs of yoga mats varies. For PVC mats, you will find prices hovering between $20-$30, sometimes even less than $20. If you are looking to invest in a natural, eco-friendly mat, you can expect to spend more than $60. When looking at Business Insider's review of the best yoga mats of 2020, you can see that those made of natural materials costs between $64.95 and $92. You can find mats on the market for up to $150.
Remember that these are investments and have higher costs. If you intend on practising more than once or twice a week, you should buy a better quality mat. You will end up saving money in the long term as you won't need to be replacing your mat often as you would have to if you practice on a PVC mat. Not all mats are created equal, and it is fair that the prices of yoga mats reflect that.
There are also some other characteristics that will influence the price of a yoga mat. Most notably is the thickness. Of course, a thicker mat is going to be more expensive than a thinner mat.
Four millimetres (0.15 inches) is the average thickness of a mat. You may want to invest in a mat with six millimetres (0.24 inches) of thickness if you need extra support. If you want a thinner mat, perhaps because you will be travelling with it, you may save some money by going with a mat thinner than four millimetres.
Additionally, manufacturers may offer different perks like quality guarantees or free replacements. Mats can also be made to be more non-slip or sweat resistant. Again, all of these things may factor into the price of the mat. You will have options, and a well-researched investment in your mat will enhance your practice. When it comes to yoga mats, you will get what you pay for.
If you are in the market for a yoga mat, you may be surprised at the cost of some. But with careful research, you will understand the value of the natural materials higher-end mats are made of. Know that the price tag will definitely reflect the mat's performance, so do not be afraid to invest in a more expensive mat. It will be well worth it and will likely lead to a more consistent, productive practice.