Handwoven wool mats have been around for thousands of years, but now they are becoming more versatile and turning into yoga mats.
Handwoven wool yoga mats are perfect for calm yoga types such as Yin yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Yoga Nidra, Restorative Yoga, and meditation practices. Wool yoga mats are the most environmentally friendly; their production help local artisan communities. They provide you with a naturally grounding area for your yoga practice.
Handwoven wool yoga mats are made by experienced artisan weavers who have love and passion for this art. A handwoven wool yoga mat has specific dimensions suitable for yoga practice. A high-quality handwoven wool yoga mat will last you a lifetime.
What Is Handweaving?
Handweaving is a full-time process. Artisans have learned this art from their fathers, mothers, grandads and grandmas. It’s a profession that starts at a very early age, and it’s developed throughout one’s life. It tends to be a family tradition, a family business.
Most handweaving communities worldwide are located in impoverished areas where living conditions are harsh, and opportunities to study, and develop are low.
This has caused immigration to other places; people abandon the weaving to do something else to bring money home. So, traditions and culture are getting lost. New generations are not learning this beautiful art because there are no buyers.
Industrially made mats are much cheaper, but they used lower-quality materials and some toxic dyes and resins.
Handwoven wool mats are entirely natural. Wool has so many benefits as a fibre than make it far superior to synthetic mats or other natural mats.
Handwoven Wool Mat
Handwoven wool mats have been around for centuries. The most re-known of all are the Persian wool mats. Famous for their designs, quality and durability. They are characterised by a special knot woven technique that allows the artisans to create pretty much any design. The only downside is the high price due to the long and arduous work involved in making one of these art pieces.
Other wool mats that are just as good as the knot wool mats are the handwoven wool mats made in pedal looms and handlooms. These wool mats are less flexible in the design that can be weaved, but they are also more affordable than the Persian ones.
Making a handwoven wool mat is a long time process that depending on the size of the mat and design can take anything from 7 days to up to 2 months or more.
Handweaving is an ancient technique passed on through generations of waivers. These artisans usually live in impoverished villages where their only way of living and survive is through their wool mats and crafts.
How Are Handwoven Wool Mats Made?
Handwoven wool mats made traditionally follow different techniques depending on the type of loom that is used.
Wool mat handweaving takes place in many countries worldwide, such as Nepal, India, Persia, Turkish, Mexico and Peru, among others. In some places like in Mexico, a whole town is involved in making only wool mats as a way of living.
Handweaving is an ancestral tradition that has been passed through generations. Nowadays, artisans are still weaving, but they see their livelihood threatened by more industrialised fabrics, which are cheaper. However, the quality and beauty of a handwoven item are much higher than industrially made ones.
Producing a full handwoven wool mat takes a long time from as few as seven days to up to a few months depending on the size, colours and designs.
The whole process is handmade. It uses only natural ingredients to make the dyes. The wool is dyed and fixed with a natural acid, such as lemon juice.
Another technique used to make wool mats is the knot technique, making knots using a vertical loom. This is known as hand-knotting. The hand-knotted wool mats are the most elaborate and more expensive. Examples of these type of wool mats are the Persian mats.
This is not very commonly used for wool yoga mats. Still, it’s possible, particularly if you want an exquisite and detailed design to be made. These mats also use the highest wool quality. For which their prices are the most expensive ones for mats and rugs in general.
Steps to Make a Wool Yoga Mat
Whether is a wool yoga mat or another wool mat, the process is the same. The only difference is the dimensions specified for wool yoga mats.
Wool yoga mats are relatively new additions to what waivers make. Traditionally they like to weave specific mat dimensions, so anything out of those dimensions is considered exceptional and cannot always be made because of the looms’ size.
The benefit of having a wool mat made for you is that you can choose the size, colour and design you like. What you get are a piece of art and a yoga mat.
Here are the steps to make wool yoga mats:
- Washing the wool with a root that acts as a natural detergent.
- Brushing the raw wool to eliminate any debris.
- Making the wool fibre into wool threads.
- If the wool has to be dyed, and the colour needs to be made, this process alone can take between 1 to 2 weeks.
- Dying of the wool with natural colours extracted from flowers, bark, insects, leaves, and minerals.
- Spinning the wool thread into yarns.
- If a unique design is to be woven, the drawing needs to be made in paper first.
- Depending on the size and design; the weaving of the mat can take from 7 days to up to 2 months or more.
- Finishing the endings of the mat with tassels: loose or tight; or without tassels.
Pedal loom handwoven yoga mats are very durable; they will handle an everyday yoga practice. Wool is more resistant than any other fibre, natural or synthetic. So you can expect to spend the next 3 or 4 decades with your wool mat friend.
Handwoven Wool Yoga Mat Eco-friendliness
A handwoven wool yoga mat is the most eco-friendly wool yoga mat available. Wool has many properties that make it eco-friendly.
The following process to be described is exclusive of Mexican handweaving tradition, weavers in other countries use very similar techniques, but I am not personally familiar with those ones.
Every stage making a handwoven wool yoga mat is made by hand, following traditional techniques. The wool used for the mats come from sheep own, most of the time, by the waiver’s family, so they integrate the farming with the wool weaving. The sheep are taken to graze in the mountains where they can have better grass.
In most cases, the wool is not certified as organic as the certification process is long and expensive for these communities. I can personally say that the sheep are free-range and roam around in the mountains during the day and they are brought back to an open enclosure for them to spend the night.
The dyes used are made only from natural raw materials such as leaves, plants, flowers, bark, insects, and minerals. The process is non-polluting, and not dangerous for the people making the dyes.
What makes a handwoven wool yoga mat eco-friendly, and ethical?
A handwoven wool yoga mat is:
- Made from 100% wool.
- Dyed only with natural plants, flowers, bark and minerals.
- Made entirely by hand.
- Each mat sold helps to sustain the livelihood of local artisans around the world.
How Much Are Wool Yoga Mats?
A mat’s value is decided based on the amount of wool used, the size, the chosen colours, the design, and the finishing.
The more colours and complexed designs mean the cost is a lot higher because the artisans take a lot longer to make the wool yoga mat.
Prices vary significantly because of the variable we talked above. You can expect to pay anything between $200-800.
Although these prices may seem expensive, consider that a handwoven wool yoga mat will pretty much last you a lifetime. You can choose a beautiful design that can also enhance any room in your home.
How to Clean Your Handwoven Wool Yoga Mat?
Handwoven wool yoga mats are very sturdy and resistant to lose their colour or shrink. This is because of the way the wool was processed before making the wool mat.
If you feel your wool yoga mat needs a clean, you can take it to a dry cleaner or wash it at home with a wool detergent.
Here is what to pay attention when washing your handwoven wool yoga mat at home:
- Unless your mat is quite soiled, it may only need to be shaken off the dust. You can do this by shaking it outdoors or using the vacuum on a low setting without the brush.
- If you notice dirty areas, you can do a spot cleaning with a mild detergent and a soft brush.
- Use only mild detergents for delicate clothing or wool.
- If you feel your wool yoga mat needs a full wash, use a big container or the bathtub, make sure the mat is covered by water with the mild detergent. Leave it to soak for a couple of hours and then agitate it with your hands or feet. Rinse it well. Use only cold water or room temperature maximum 90º F or 30º C.
- Bear in mind that your wool yoga mat is going to be very heavy when wet.
- Leave your wool yoga mat to dry outside wholly.
- Your mat will be a bit wrinkly after the wash. The wrinkles will disappear after a while. If you want to make, them disappear sooner, iron it at low heat.
Wool is an excellent material for wool yoga mats. It’s durable, dirt-repellent, self-cleaning and flame-resistant. Handwoven wool yoga mats are perfect for the practice of Kundalini yoga, Yin yoga, Restorative yoga, Yoga Nidra or any other meditative practices. Wool’s qualities allow a non-static environment to develop and work with subtler energies.
Handwoven wool yoga mats make the most eco-friendly wool mats because they are hundred per cent natural. Every stage of the process to create a wool yoga mat is made by hand, uses only natural ingredients. So, there are absolutely no nasty chemicals used in their making.
Handwoven wool yoga mats are very comfortable to practice. It’s not slippery on most floors.
Handwoven wool yoga mats can be easily customised to the dimensions you need for your yoga practice, so no more hands or feet on the floor while on savasana. Compared to other wool yoga mats, they are a bit more expensive, but considering the time it takes to make one of them is well worth it.
When you have a handwoven wool yoga mat, it becomes your best friend for many years to come. It will last you a lifetime. You can make it a centrepiece at home as part of your deco.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is the Best Thickness for a Yoga Mat?
In general, a yoga mat of around 5mm is good enough for natural rubber and cork. For natural materials is better for them to be a little thicker to provide better insulation and comfort. Natural material yoga mats like cotton and wool are best to be between 10-15mm thick.
Is It Better to Get a Thicker Yoga Mat?
The thickness of your yoga mat depends on the type of yoga you practice. A 5-7mm thick yoga mat will be ok for all types of yoga. Thicker yoga mats are suitable for calm types of yoga-like Yin and Kundalini yoga. Thinner yoga mats are as good as travelling mats.
Is It Ok to Workout on the carpet?
Of course, you can work out on your carpet. But, I would recommend you to have a specific mat where you can do your workout. You are likely to sweat during your exercise practice or come in poses where your face is on the floor. Your carpet is possible to accumulate dust, dirt, and bacteria that can only be clean is you clean the whole carpet. It’s easier to have an exercise mat that you can clean or wash effortless.