I’ve used a cork yoga mat since 2015. I bought it after being fed up with using regular mats in a hot yoga studio. Hot yoga people always have to use towels with a grippy back to avoid sliding all over the mat when things get sweaty.
As one of the sweatiest of the sweaty, this never worked for me. I did some reading and discovered Yoloha cork yoga mats. At $119, it was a pricey proposition.
But it worked. I didn’t slip and/or slide. It was by far better than the other mats I’ve used since started taking yoga classes in 1999.
Just shortly before the pandemic kicked in, I did something stupid. I left my mat at the studio where it disappeared before I could return and bring it home.
Now, Yoloha was one of the first ones making a name in cork yoga mats back in 2015. I wondered if anyone else caught up.
Testing the VIRGIN PULP Best Cork Yoga Mat
I found a VIRGIN PULP Best Cork Yoga Mat on Amazon for about half the price of a Yoloha.
I also had some credit on Amazon, so it turned out to be pretty much free. There’s a character in one of my favorite movies who says “Anything free is worth saving up for.” That’s not so true in the case of this yoga mat.
I noticed when I got it that it was far lighter than my original Yoloha, and the grain of the cork was far smaller. It was also a far thinner cork surface. This worried me right from the get-go.
The VIRGIN PULP proved my instincts right. While it was decently grippy, the cork surface started to flake nearly immediately.
It was so bad that I took the rare step of writing an Amazon review to warn people away. Here’s what I had to say:
After only three uses, pieces of the cork are flaking to reveal the material underneath. That’s right – three hot yoga classes, and it’s already coming apart. See the gray areas in the photos.
Also, this mat is about four inches shorter than I’d prefer (I’m 6’2). It’s also very squishy and lightweight, so it tends to move around and even fold.
My last cork mat was from one of the more expensive brands. It lasted seven years, and the cork layer was far thicker. That made a more durable, stable cork mat.
On the plus side, this mat is very grippy when wet.
But wait, there’s more: The VIRGIN PULP mat doesn’t absorb water well. Sweat pools on the surface, which makes all manner of farty noises when you’re doing anything that involves being on your back. Look, I DON’T NEED MORE FARTY NOISES IN MY LIFE!
Back to the Original
My fury at the VIRGIN PULP mat did not go unnoticed. Since my birthday was coming up, my wife grabbed a Yoloha Original Air Cork yoga mat for me.
When I opened the box, I was a little concerned. It was way thinner and lighter than my old version of the same mat (seriously, that old mat was a TANK). It wasn’t much different in weight than the VIRGIN PULP disaster. One thing that gave me hope was that the cork grain seems much larger
and sturdier than the bargain-basement brand.
I managed to get in a few hot yoga sessions at Hot Yoga University before the COVID-19 pandemic shut everything down. They recently opened under new management – and with some awesome new practices that will be good even after the pandemic days.
It’s as grippy as the original, and not a single piece of the cork surface has flaked off. The grip is superior to the VIRGIN PULP cork yoga mat, but maybe not quite as grippy as the original. I wonder if this is because its thinner surface doesn’t absorb sweat quite as easily. Like the VIRGIN PULP mat, the current iteration of the Yoloha Original Air allows more sweat to pool. This again results in some questionable noises emanating from my mat; it’s not quite the beans/broccoli/eggs diet sound of the cheaper mat, but it farts noticeably.
Another nice feature: It’s a few inches longer than the VIRGIN PULP. Great for tall people!
UPDATE (Oct. 3, 2021)
The Yoloha Original Air hasn’t earned my unbridled praise. It still gets slippery because it doesn’t absorb sweat well. And yep, it’s still making all sorts of farty noises. I actually saw another guy at my yoga studio using a Yoloha. Next time I saw him, he was buying a new mat from the studio (though to be fair, my finely tuned instincts tell me that was part of a campaign to chat up the women working there rather than any genuine need.)
The Verdict on the Best Cork Yoga Mat
The Yoloha Original Air Cork Yoga Mat is superior in quality to the cheaper alternative. My last Yoloha lasted years rather than weeks, so spending more is a wise decision. You’ll wind up keeping it far longer. And if you’re debating a cork yoga mat versus a regular matt and a quality yoga towel, the prices aren’t that different from each other.
The current Yohola, though, is simply not as good as my last one. I think they just went too thin. I honestly hope this isn’t the best mat out there.
That said, I’m open to anyone who wants me to put their cork yoga mat to the test.
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