Types of Wool Yoga Mats


Types of Wool Yoga Mats

If you are considering getting a wool yoga mat but are not sure what types of wool yoga mats are available we’ll explore them here.

You can choose from several types of wool yoga mats according to your yoga practice, preference for comfort, design, thickness, and eco-friendliness. Wool is a natural material with excellent properties to make yoga mats: durable, self-cleaning, dirt-repellent and flame-resistant. Besides, the production of wool is sustainable, as sheep are regularly shorn without suffering.

Here are the wool yoga mat options available:

  • Handwoven wool yoga mats
  • Felted wool yoga mats
  • Sheepskin yoga mats
  • Organic sheepskin yoga mats
  • Sheep wool yoga mats
  • Merino wool yoga mats

In this article, we’ll have a look at each of these varieties of wool yoga mats, so you know what each of them has to offer.


What Is Wool?

Wool is one of the oldest fibres used by humans thousands of years ago. Wool has been historically used till these days to make garments, clothing, rugs, and blankets.

Wool has a fantastic set of qualities that make it unique and far superior to other natural and synthetic fabrics.

Wool is a renewable and sustainable resource. Every year sheep’s wool needs to be shorn, so the sheep don’t get too hot during the spring and summer months.

Here are some of the most exciting qualities of wool:

  • Stronger than stainless steel and thin as a human hair.
  • Temperature regulator, warmer when cold, fresh when hot.
  • Fire-resistant.
  • Good insulator.
  • Water repellent on the surface.
  • Water absorbent if water gets to its core.
  • 100% Biodegradable.
  • Recyclable.

Choosing a Wool Yoga Mat

Wool is a natural material with excellent properties to make yoga mats: durable, self-cleaning, dirt-repellent and flame-resistant. Besides, the production of wool is sustainable, as sheep are regularly shorn without suffering.

There are several types of wool yoga mats to choose from. When choosing a wool yoga mat, you should keep in mind four things:

  1. The type of yoga you are going to do.
  2. The place of your practice: at home, in a studio, outdoors, or all three.
  3. The versatility of your wool yoga mat if you want it only for yoga or as a decoration for your home as well.
  4. The eco-friendliness of your wool yoga mat.

Handwoven Wool Yoga Mats

Handwoven wool mats have been around for thousands of years. Handweaving is an ancient technique passed on through generations of waivers. Several countries around the world do handweaving rugs and mats such as Nepal, India, Persia, Turkish, Mexico, and Peru. These artisans usually live in impoverished villages where their only way of living and survive is through their wool mats and crafts.

Wool yoga mats are relatively a new addition to what waivers traditionally make, except for India. Traditionally artisans weave carpets, floor rugs and decorative rugs. You can fidn without problem rugs and mats already woven at specific dimensions and following traditional patterns and designs. Anything out of those dimensions or designs is considered exceptional and cannot always be made because of the looms’ size.

Making a handwoven wool yoga mat is a long time process that depending on the size of the mat and design, it can take anything from 7 days to up to 2 months or more.

What is excellent about handwoven wool yoga mats, they are:

  • Durable.
  • Comfortable.
  • Made to measure.
  • Can have a beautiful design weaved.
  • Made from 100% wool.
  • Dyed only with natural plants, flowers, bark and minerals.
  • Easy to carry.
  • Can be used as a central feature in your living room.
  • Biodegradable.
  • Upcycle.
  • Each mat sold helps to sustain the livelihood of local artisans around the world.

Some downsides of handwoven wool yoga mats are:

  • Their cost is high compared to other types of yoga mats. But they are cheaper than organic sheepskins.
  • Some designs may not be possible due to the complexity of the design and the waiver’s experience.

Felted Wool Yoga Mats

Felting has been around for a few thousand years in places like Mongolia where they make their tents called Yurts out of felted wool.

The three basic processes to produce felted wool are heat, pressure and moisture. This causes the wool fibres to mat and interlock.

Industrial felting uses wool and synthetic fibres such as polyester or nylon. A weak sulphuric acid mixture is then added to the layered felt, so it helps to thicken it.

  • The wet felt with the sulfuric acid residue must be neutralised. To do so, the felt is run through neutralising tanks filled with soda ash (Sodium carbonate) and a warm water solution.
  • Then if the felt needs dyeing, synthetic dyes are used.
  • Once the felt has been neutralised and dyed, a heavy roller machine runs over it to smooth any irregularities.
  • The felt goes to dry in either: a centrifugal dryer, a dryer bed, or air dry.
  • Once the felt is dried, it’s cut to the desired dimensions, and the edges are neatly trimmed, and it’s ready to be sold.

To know more details about felted wool yoga mats check this article.

What is great about felted wool yoga mats:

  • Provide good insulation from the flooring
  • Good body temperature regulators
  • Easy to care for
  • Relatively cheap compare to other wool yoga mats
  • Only if made of 100% wool is biodegradable.

What are the downsides of a felted wool yoga mat:

  • Most felted wool yoga mats are industrially made.
  • Maybe toxic dyes were used to dye the felt.
  • If made in a third world country, polluting practices are likely to have taken place.
  • It cannot be recycled and would end in a landfill if synthetic fabrics were mixed with the wool.

Kundalini Sheepskin Yoga Mats

Traditional skin processing at tannery in Scotland.

Sheepskin wool yoga mats have become trendy in recent years with the increasing popularity of Kundalini yoga.

Western Kundalini yoga recommends the use of a sheepskin for the Kundalini yoga practice. The wool neutralises the electromagnetic waves that could be surrounding you during your practice. The idea is that as you move energy in your body during your practice, no other energy surrounding you will be interfering.

Whether this is true or not, the reality is that natural materials always provide you with better energy during your practice.

Choosing a sheepskin or not depends on whether you are concerned about the environment and on your values about animals.

A sheepskin refers to the skin of the sheep with the wool part left on. The sheepskin follows a long process of cleaning and a chemical treatment called tanning, which is the part that can be polluting as it uses chemicals. Mass produce sheepskins are usually processed in developing countries where the environmental regulations are lax.

What is great about Kundalini sheepskin yoga mats:

  • Comfortable.
  • Good floor insulators.
  • Biodegradable.
  • Upcyclable.
  • Luxurious feel to the touch.
  • A beautiful centrepiece for any room.
  • According to Kundalini belief, it neutralises electromagnetic waves that may interfere with your yoga practice.

Sheepskin yoga mats have three downsides:

  • Support the meat industry
  • When mass-produced, they use chemicals that harm the environment and pollute watercourses.
  • Using only one sheepskin is usually not big enough to be used as a yoga mat, for that you may need two.
  • The size of one sheepskin is big enough as a meditation mat but not as a yoga mat, for that you need two sheepskin size.

If you want to get a sheepskin to get an organic sheepskin, it’s eco-friendly and animal friendly.


Organic Sheepskin Yoga Mats

Organic sheepskin yoga mats are made from the skin of the sheep with the wool on it. They are the same as sheepskin yoga mats, but organic.

So if you are concerned about animal welfare and against environmental pollution, an organic sheepskin yoga mat is the best option for sheepskin.

What is amazing about an organic sheepskin yoga mat:

  • It comes from organic sheep that had a happy life roaming around fresh grass and plants in the mountains.
  • The tanning process is carried out without harsh acids or chemicals.
  • Less polluted wastewater from the tanning process.
  • Great for meditation or Kundalini yoga.
  • A beautiful centrepiece for any room.
  • It has a luxury feel.
  • Eco-friendly.
  • Biodegradable.
  • Upcyclable.

What is not so good about organic sheep yoga mats:

  • One sheepskin size is not always big enough for your full body lying down.
  • The price is the highest of all the wool yoga mats.
  • It contributes to killing sheep instead of using only their wool.

Sheep Wool Yoga Mats

Sheep wool yoga mats are mats made of fluffy wool. They look a bit like sheepskin, but sheep wool yoga mats have been made to look that way using the wool, but not the sheep’s skin.

What is great about sheep wool yoga mats:

  • They are more affordable than sheepskin.
  • They provide a better mat size for the yoga practice.
  • They have a soft and pleasant touch to the skin.
  • Comes with an anti-slippery bottom layer, which makes it safer for yoga flow asanas.
  • Biodegradable, except if the bottom layer has PU or acrylic resin.
  • Renewable
  • Sustainable

What is not so great about sheep wool yoga mats:

  • There are not many suppliers of these types of mats.
  • Some have a synthetic bottom layer.

My advice is to check with the company for the materials they used. Make sure they are actually using wool. There are lots of fake wool options around. And if you care for the animal welfare and the environment check if any polluting material has been used on making the sheep wool yoga mat.


Merino Wool Yoga Mats

Merino wool is one of the finest wool. It’s more commonly used to make blankets because the wool hair is very fine and soft. But, nowadays it’s been used to make yoga mats as well. Usually, a cotton layer is placed at the bottom of the mat, and the merino wool is on the top layer.

If you want a yoga mat made of merino wool, consider buying a large size to practice yoga asanas on it. If you’re going to use the mat for meditation, a small merino wool mat should be fine.

What makes merino wool a good yoga mat:

  • Provides a super soft feel to the touch.
  • Provides good insulation from the flooring.
  • Can become a beautiful feature in any room.
  • Merino wool yoga mats are perfect to have a luxurious yoga practice.
  • Renewable.
  • Sustainable.
  • Biodegradable.

The downsides of merino wool are:

  • Expensive.
  • The bottom layer could be made of synthetic materials.
  • The longer the hair, the more dust will settle on it, so it needs to be dusted frequently and vacuum directly at a low setting without the brush.

Conclusion

Wool is a natural material with excellent properties: it is durable, self-cleaning, dirt-repellent and flame-resistant. Besides, the production of wool is sustainable, as the sheep are regularly shorn without suffering.

Choosing your wool yoga mat will depend on your preferences for a yoga mat. Handwoven wool yoga mats are the most eco-friendly and are a piece of art to enjoy in your home.

Organic sheepskin is the second-best eco-friendly alternative, only second to handwoven wool yoga mats. This is because of their size; you need to buy at least two sheepskin to make the size of a regular yoga mat.

Sheep and Merino wool yoga mats are a good option if you buy virgin wool or organic wool mats. These mats are manufactured so they don’t always have organic wool. These mats are very comfortable. They come in different sizes, and some of them have printed designs.
Felted wool yoga mats are my least favourite, only because of the thickness of the mat. I don’t find them easy to carry or easy to store and not that pretty to display. If you buy a felted wool yoga mat, check it’s been made in a traditional way.


Frequently Asked Questions

Are Yoga Mats Toxic?

Most of the commercial yoga mats are made of synthetic materials. Some of these materials are more toxic than others. For example, PVC is the most harmful of all, and it’s also the cheapest. So, if you find a very cheap yoga mat, chances are it’s made of PVC.
The process to manufacture synthetic materials isn’t environmentally friendly. It uses lots of different chemicals. Depending on where the yoga mat is produced, the regulations to use certain polluting substances or the waste disposal will harm the environment.

Are expensive yoga mats worth it?

It all depends on how much you want to spend or have available to spend on your yoga mat.
A yoga mat can become expensive due to several factors:
• It’s from a known brand.
• There has been plenty of technology or research involved on the make of the yoga mat.
• The materials it’s made of are organic.
• The mat has been made by hand.
• Making the mat has taken a long time.
Known branded yoga mats can cost around $200.
Organic cotton yoga mats are between $70-150
Sheepskin yoga mats are $150-250
Organic Sheepskin Yoga Mats cost $600-800
Wool yoga mats vary in price from $200- 500

What Are the best Yoga Mats Made of?

To decide which is the best yoga mat for you, first, you need to know:
• The type of yoga you practice.
• Your place of practice, indoors: at home or in the studio. Outdoors: park or beach.
• Whether you need to transport your yoga mat.
• Your budget
Choose the best yoga mat, depending on:
• Material
• Performance
• Durability
• Eco-friendliness

Maria Mendoza

Hi. I'm Maria. I am a Biologist and a Yoga instructor. I've created this blog to share my knowledge and experience with people interested in yoga and those who want to make yoga a part of their lives. Besides I promote and encourage an environmentally responsible yoga practice. Through my articles, you can learn how to begin Yoga and discover the meaning of Yoga. Learn about Asanas, Pranayamas, Mudras, Mantras and Bandhas. Start your Yoga practice today.

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