Please don't think you need the thickest mat if you are beginner. It is not so.
Unless you know you have pressure sensitive bones, the 4mm is adequate.
A little bit of discomfort will help condition the body and inform you what areas need attention. For that i believe in the 2mm but i know from 18 years providing these mats this is a big ask .. .. .. I therefore refer to the 4mm as the standard one.
Yes ... if you are in Edinburgh - living, practicing or just passing through - you are welcome to drop by and pick up an ecoYoga mat. Please call or email in advance if possible. Whilst most sales occur through stockists i sometimes hold a small batch of mats in-house. These are usually the lighterweight (my preference:) and the wabi-sabi factory seconds, though sometimes the regular 4mm and 6mm Phoenix mats.
a much asked question .. .. .. and an awkward one for me as i did not create the mats to a "white label" product. Much time and effort has gone into maintaining continuity and production of the mats. Integrity and information, rather than trend and business opportunity, are important to me. The tension between these two ways is forefront right now.
.. and so a long-ish answer:
The ecoYoga mats come with an ecoYoga information leaflet and subtle branding in the form of a small ecoYoga paper sticker.
I have endorsed co-branding for a few projects: the mats screen printed using ecological inks. Mats have maintained their ecoYoga sticker and leaflet to inform user.
Printing is not a service i offer though can advise. The print is outsourced as the factory do not.
When i first created the ecoYoga mats i intentionally had no branding. Yoga was, to me, free from fashion, trends and branding. I was thinking yoga practice rather than yoga business. My thinking has not changed.
The past 20+ years of course has seen the morphing of a commercial yoga industry that has no boundaries. Branding is a big part of that.
With look-a-likes, and lots of mats with eco/natural claim, it can be confusing for students and new teachers to know just what mats are what !
The yoga mat market is as superficial as any other. Companies seem to do whatever they can to get ahead.
The ecoYoga mats are not like other mats. To be considered as such denies necessary information for the user.
Re-branding (where there is no acknowledgement of the mat being an ecoYoga mat) is at the discretion of ecoYoga Ltd. There will be a premium charge.
For co-branding the price is regular trade prices. The cost and arrangement of print is additional.
Regardless of branding the ecoYoga mats have a reputation for their performance and integrity.
In the end it is, and hopefully will always be, about your commitment to the practice not the label on the mat (or on your pants)
Yoga mats have become the major accessory to ones practice and with the ever increasing trend it means millions of mats are out there being bought and disposed. That's a lot of mats in landfill. The postures on your yoga mat are the beginning of a journey to protect and promote the health and well-being of your body, mind and soul. If this inner awareness is awakened one hopes it finds reflection in the external world. Practicing on a glossy plastic mat made as cheaply as possible for maximum profit we view as the antithesis of yoga. It is a simple gesture to practice on a mat created with yoga in mind from renewable resources.
We thought it would be lovely to be able to practice on something a bit closer to nature, something aesthetically considered, yet still providing that grip that everyone so desires.
The choice, of course, is up to you
ecoYoga mats are made from entirely natural plant based materials: 100% natural rubber and hessian. The rubber compound is environmentally neutral so, at the end of the Yoga mat's life, it can be composted and or safely used in the garden - making them completely eco-friendly. They are PVC free (PVC is a long term pollutant plastic in production through to disposal).
From time to time this causes concern for some practitioners. Initial shedding and scuffing may occur with some mats. This will not render the mat unusable. Ultimately though all mats will wear with the rubber breaking off the jute.
The colourfree mats are the most vulnerable and, being so light in colour, show up the most. Though the percentage of pigment in the coloured mats is very small it seems to give a little more integrity to the rubber.
Lycra clothing with it's microscopic hooks attracts the little rubber particles more than cotton. Synthetic fabrics also use highly toxic chemicals in production. Lycra, for such reasons, not a fabric we encourage.
Your expectation maybe challenged. These mats will show the tracks of your practice which we view as an integral part of doing yoga. We are looking into wear and tear of the mats as time passes and always need and welcome feedback.
Composting is an art
To break down and degrade the ecoYoga material needs a good combination of heat, air, light and moisture.
A well used mat will have been blasted with UV-light and be well oxidised giving a tremendous head start for composting.
If your mat is only a year or so old expect longer for its composting breakdwon.
The material i use at my allotment as trial over the years has been is new material, rejects from factory. The best results have come if used around the garden for a couple of years before using in compost. I use as seed suppressant around plants or paths, or cover to open compost bins or as a base for the compost.
If your mat is still quite new then it will take more time than a season for food waste which can be ready within a year.
Mat cleaners & cleansers have been formulated with plastic mats in mind, or at least not with a 100% natural material in mind. Since plastic is itself a by-product of the oil industry oils have no detrimental affect on plastic molecular structure. For this reason most of the mat cleaners contain essential oils. For natural rubber however oils accelerate degradation. Whilst the level of these essential oils, such as lavender and tea-tree will be very low and will not damage the ecoYoga mat they will however contribute to the materials slow slow softening and degradation :: much as your own body oils will (along with air and uv-light which dry out the material). All you really need is to wipe down with warm water & a small amount of regular white vinegar. Simple techniques are best (:
The price of raw natural rubber has been increasing over the several years. Natural rubber and synthetic rubber are closely linked in the stock market so the increase in oil prices which affects the price of synthetic rubber has had a knock on affect on natural rubber prices. The rubber market is a speculative market and big brokers continue to forecast the massive consumption rate in China and the far east. This is pushing the price up. The ecoYoga mats are made from the highest quality natural materials in the UK. Waste is minimised as much as possible. Quality control and production costs are higher than mass produced European or Chinese mats in comparison.
The rubber used is currently from the international market: Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia mainly.
No factory i have ever spoken with has access to natural rubber from one known source.
Until there is a large consumer demand for a known-source-rubber all the farms, small holdings and large plantations producing natural rubber are mixed together and sold through the international market.
Plantations of any crop can get bad press. The rubber ones i visited in india, and my colleague in Sri Lanka, were low impact on the land. In small holdings the rubber often co-exists with other crops. Rubber is ideal for polyculture agriculture: though this is not always practised in larger plantations.
The ecoYoga jute mats are skilfully made in the UK . We deliberately choose not to make our mats in China, Taiwan, Thailand, SriLanka or the likes : Cheap labour and mass production is not right. Fair Trade standards within the jute and rubber industry are slowly emerging though are currently very limited. Our Scottish jute supplier has long family business relationships in India and Bangladesh and works only with government factories (all ISO-9001 certified) where standards can be monitored. They already have their own standards in practice.
The international rubber trade has not met with consumer demand to supply fair trade rubber though, in the current climate of business, this has to change in the not too too distant future. We are making our own enquiries into the potential of this for the ecoYoga mats.
The base material for our mats is 100% natural rubber baked in an oven during the curing process of manufacture. The mats therefore have an odour of latex when new. This wears off after some time, wiping down with water and a good bit of airing after use. Batches tend to differ with regards intensity.
When i first designed the mats i wanted small patches of jute exposed but the process is not easily controlled and ultimately, i realised, subjective. It resulted in too much jute showing and the level of discretion way too much a burden for factory production manager so spec changed to the full cover with factory stipulated 5-10% tolerance.
The concern that raw patches will wear more readily is not the case, the effect is aesthetic only.
If there is more than 10% exposure i will sell as wabi-sabi factory second.
The chances are that your mat may still contains PVC, an environmentally damaging plastic in production and at end use. Many of the other plastic and rubber mats need high energy consumming production methods.
BUT There is much change afoot: The general increased demand for non-plastic goods is finally filtering into the yoga consummer psyche, especially the past year (2020) when people had the time to take a pause to think.
Cork mats widely available as an option but please consider their source. We have not yet found any supplier of Yoga mats that conform to our sense & standards of integrity ecology.
lifespan depends on your practice, your environment and how you look after it. Over the past 18 years the feedback has been from 2 years to 12 years. Truly !
The 100% natural rubber is sensitive to sunlight, oils and extreme heat (e.g. sitting on top a radiator or direct sun rays through a window). These all will contribute to the degradation of the material. I have had customers buying new mats after 18 months happy with its wear but there those that can not tolerate a scuff or scrape and the inevitable crumbling that occurs. Even with the crumbling a mat can last for several years.
At the end of 2006 we made some improvements to the mat so we anticipate longer life spans for most practitioners.
Eco-tex (or Oeko-tex) is a private European testing laboratory that assess materials for harmfulness to human skin contact. Such Yoga mats are not strictly "environmental" or "ecological". We believe any product that contains PVC cannot claim to be environmental. ecoYoga does not sell any Yoga mats with the Eco-tex certificate.
Rubber and Latex is the substance, a lectin, skillfully tapped from just below the bark of the tree Hevea Brasiliensis. Natural rubber latex as it is tapped is a watery substance in which is suspended a mixture of non-rubber particles like proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and minerals. The most commonly used latex product in the world is the condom. Over one billion condoms are distributed by the World Health Organisation to combat the aids epidemic. Over eight billion are still needed!
Some people have a skin reaction to the rubber proteins in Latex. Our mats are specially formulated to minimise the dispersion of rubber proteins and therefore should be no problem to the vast majority of users. If you suspect an irritation you can give the mat a cycle in the washing machine. Flushing with water is the process used for condoms and rubber gloves to remove excess protein particles. If you already suffer from a latex allergy we would not advise you use the ecoYoga mat as a precautionary measure.
TPE (thermoplastic elastomer) foam is a non-toxic plastic that can be melted down easily for reuse (unlike PVC). Commonly it is used as ear plugs, toothbrush handles and weather seals. Yoga mats is one of its recent applications. It is soft and less durable, though more favourable, than PVC. PER (polymer environment resin) is a synthetic compound developed as an alternative to PVC. In the 1990s the popularity of PVC gave way to consumer and processor awareness of its environmental implications. PER contains no phthalates or heavy metals and has food grade skin safety.
Yes, Nick Loening, one of the founding members of ecoYoga Ltd now has the Ecoyoga Centre: ecoyoga.org
In 1997 Nick owned and ran The Yoga Centre on the Meadows in Edinburgh. It was here that the need for something other than awful plastic mats was realised and from here that ecoYoga ltd ran for it's first two years.