I practiced yoga on a cork mat, and I’ll be namastaying on it forever


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Photo: Stocksy/Reece McMillan

When it comes to yoga mats, you might say I’m in an open relationship. I’ve investigated which materials make for the best overall experience. I’ve taken the most state-of-the-art surfaces for a test drive. And (don’t judge) I keep five different mat options in my closet to use based on my various flow feels. When a fellow yogi dares to suggest they’ve “just found the best mat,” you’d better believe I’ll fact check that claim before I decide to go steady with a new product.

Recently, as I was warming up before a hot vinyasa class, a woman on a neighboring mat told me that using a cork mat has “transformed” her practice. Within moments of class letting out, after we had bowed our heads and softly said “namaste,” I whipped out my phone to begin my research. Two days later, at another steamy class, I unfurled my new cork mat (technically a Christmas present I’d given to my mother then kindly asked to borrow).

What can I say? It was love at first child’s pose. Here’s the thing about cork: It’s antimicrobial and all natural, dries in 10 minutes flat, and perhaps most importantly, it won’t let you fall flat on your face during crow pose. From the moment I lifted my knees off the ground and pressed into my first downward dog, I felt the cork supporting me like a kind, non-slip friend.

From the moment I lifted my knees off the ground and pressed into my first downward dog, I felt the cork supporting me like a kind, non-slip friend.

Cork might be the Rolls-Royce of yoga mats. The price certainly suggests that’s true. The one I practiced on, which is handmade in my hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, will set you back $169. Similar mats go for slightly less. But listen up, warrior—I sincerely hope you do. You deserve to hop into handstand without begrudging your sweaty palms; to hold plank without your hands betraying you; to bend your limbs into a pretzel without worry that your mat doesn’t have your back. Go cork or go home.

When you’re ready to give your mat a good scrub-down, here’s exactly how to do so. And here’s a very compelling reason *not* to skip that shower line after class

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