Frequently Asked Questions
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Can i come pick up a mat directly from ecoYoga ?
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 often hold a small batch of mats in-house. These are usually the lighterweight (my preference:) and the funky factory seconds, and sometimes the regular 4mm mats.
Why should I use an environmentally friendly mat ?
Yoga mats have become the major accessory to ones practice and with the ever increasing trend it means millions and millions of mats are out there being bought and disposed. That's a lot of mats in landfill sites. We believe 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 shiny 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, but still have the grip that everyone so desires !
Of course the choice is up to you
Why are ecoYoga mats environmental?
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).
How do I care for my ecoYoga mat?
- Let your ecoYoga mat breathe as much as possible, especially if you work a sweat on to it. Wiping down with a damp cloth before and after class is good practice though not essential.
- From time to time wipe with just a dilute vinegar in warm water solution, normal white household vinegar, which is great for removing excess or build up of grime & oils etc
- The mats will wash in the machine through a cool cycle using a small amount of detergent if really dirty. They will retain a lot of water. Remove excess amounts by rolling up with a dry towel - the old traditional woollens method. Washing often in the machine is not recmmended though as this will dry out the hessian fibres making them more brittle.
- Dry flat to avoid creasing (though these will eventually smooth out).
- Do not put through a tumble dryer.
- Avoid contact with oils and store out of direct sunlight as both these will aid degradation of the rubber.
Which mat cleaner should i use ?
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 it's 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 (:
Why do ecoYoga mats cost more than other mats?
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. Our mats are made from the highest quality natural materials in the UK. We try to minimise waste as much as possible. Quality control and production costs are higher than mass produced German or Chinese mats in comparison.
What about fair trade or child labour?
The ecoYoga jute mats are made in the UK . We deliberately choose not to make our mats in China or Taiwan where they would have been cheaper. There are currently no Fair Trade standards within the jute or rubber industry. Jute is set to have standards in the future. 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 rubber industry has not met with consumer demand to supply fair trade rubber though, in the current climate of business, we hope this will change in the not too too distant future. We are making our own enquiries into the potential of this for our yoga mats.
My ecoYoga mat has an odour. Why is this?
The base material for our mats is natural rubber baked in an oven during the curing process of manufacture. The Natural mats therefore have an odour of latex when new. This wears off after some time and a good bit of airing after use. Our latest batch of mats has very little natural rubber smell.
Do you have different colours of mats?
We wish to have a core group of colours that will satisfy a broad spectrum of tastes. As time goes on we may bring out different colour ranges. Generally it is easier and more economical for the factory to work with fewer colours which we prefer.
I was sold an "eco yoga mat" by another supplier. It is not one of yours but is it an eco yoga/ecoyoga mat ?
The chances are that your mat may contain PVC, an environmentally damaging plastic, or some other form of plastic. Many of the other plastic and rubber mats use/need high energy consummtion for their production methods. Plastic in any form we regard as paradoxical for yoga when there are now alternatives. There is however much change afoot in the yoga mat world with increased demand for non-plastic goods.
As far as the name or brand goes, it won't be an "ecoYoga mat". Companies now use "eco yoga" to trade some of their wares and though ecoYoga ltd has trademark on use of this as an online advertising term the bigger companies care not.
Do your research. Consider what you regard as "eco". Call the company and ask questions. See what materials they are made from and where they are made.
How long will my ecoYoga mat last?
It really depends on your practice, your environment and how you look after it. In 14 years the feedback has been from 2 years to 12 years ! Truly !
The natural rubber is sensitive to sunlight, oils and extreme heat (e.g. sitting on top a radiator). These all will contribute to the degradation of the material. We have had customers buying their new mats after 18 months happy with its wear.
At the end of 2006 we made some improvements to the mat so we anticipate longer life spans for most practitioners.
My mat sheds little pieces and sticks to my clothes. Is this normal?
Early evidence of ones practice on the ecoYoga mat is not uncommon. These scuffs and marks do not render the mat unusable though the bits of rubber, for some, can be a great disappointment.
Crumbling is part of their degradation; initially in vulnerable areas of friction - hands & feet positions of adho mukha svanasana plus dragging or scuffing that can occur in the beginning of practice (or indeed later in practice!).
One must keep in mind the rubber compound is 100% natural; meaning it is not mixed with other compounds, synthetic or recycled, as some rubber mats are. As the rubber degrades it will dry and the crumbling will reduce. The only means to delay the crumbing is to add chemicals and/or synthetic rubber which i am not prepared to do.
The small percentage of pigment added to the coloured mats slightly increases the integrity of the material: That is to say the colourfree mats tend to be the ones that suffer most.
It is worth noting also that lycra clothes with their microscopic hooks attract the little rubber particles more than cotton. Advice would be wear cotton rather than lycra for practice if possible.
It also depends on your practice and expectation.
The nature of how our bodies engage with asana puts a lot of stress on the surface we practice. Perhaps part of the asana design was to show how we stress the ground we practice on .. .. ..
Other suppliers sell Eco-tex Yoga mats. What is this?
Eco-tex (or Oeko-tex) is a private European testing laboratory that asses materials for harmfulness to human skin contact. These Yoga mats are not necessarily "environmental" or "ecological".
ecoYoga does not sell any Yoga mats with the Eco-tex certificate.
What is PVC?
PVC (PolyVinyl Chloride) is an oil based plastic. It is used in many applications such as wiring, flooring, pipes, wallpaper, window frames, doors and food packaging and is very cheap.
What is rubber or latex?
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 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.
I have heard about Latex allergies?
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 the refore 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.
I have heard of PER and TPE yoga mats. What are these?
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.
Rubber Tyres…are they not natural rubber?
Tyres are made primarily from synthetic rubber and metal. There are many classes of synthetic rubber but basically all are made from a raw material derived from petroleum, coal, oil, natural gas and acetylene.
Most likely there will be a small percentage of natural rubber in the tyre. For that reason alone one can say tyres are made from natural rubber !
The jute on my mat is not perfect. Is this a fault ?
The weave of jute chosen for the design of our mats is quite loose and soft. Inherent in this weave are random anomalies of loose threads and nubs. Whilst we discard the more extreme cases we do not consider the milder cases as faults or defects: in fact we feel that the mats have a more individual nature as a result.
Are the ecoYoga mats and the Ecoyoga Centre related ?
Yes, Nick Loening, one of the founding members of ecoYoga Ltd now has the Ecoyoga Centre.
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 the first two years.
Nick, ever bursting with new projects and ideas, closed his edinburgh Yoga Centre in 2005 in order to evolve not just his family but also his hydro-powered Ecoyoga Centre on the West coast of Scotland. This Centre at Inverliever Lodge, now offers Yoga classes and workshops, hot-tubs, freshwater plunge tubs, a grass-roofed sauna, wild river hot baths, vistas, accomodation, self-catering retreats and, of course, ecoYoga mats to practice on & purchase.
The ecoYoga jute mats (ecoYoga Ltd) continues to run from edinburgh by Seona Robinson, the other founding member. Like any good practice, the mats maintain a subtle and powerful presence. Still 100% natural rubber and jute, and still made in the UK (: