Why Are Jute Mats In Yoga Classes?
If someone starts talking yoga, sooner or later they start talking about yoga mats. Jute mats are in yoga classes on both sides of the Atlantic. Although the original practitioners of yoga never used mats or even shoes of any sort, practitioners today will find yoga a lot safer with the use of jute mats. Yoga involves placing the body in a lot of stretches and positions where you can easily fall off-balance is you don't have a good grip with your feet or hands.
It Is Natural
Yoga emphasizes a connection between you and the natural world, even if you live, work and take yoga classes indoors. Yoga students are encouraged to eat healthy foods, think helpful thoughts and wear natural fabrics like cotton or silk. There is a strong suspicion of man-made fabrics in many yoga circles, because it is thought that they put out hazardous fumes.
Although no yoga instructor who wants to stay in business can ban any sort of athletic mat from class, cork or jute mats in yoga classes will be preferred. Jute is cheaper than cork because it is far more abundant. Sometimes jute is also known as "Hessian". If you have trouble trying to picture jute in your mind, think of a burlap sack (or "gunny sack", if you are English). Burlap is basically jute, just under another name.
What's Wrong With Rubber Mats?
Why not bring far more accessible rubber mats instead of jute mats to yoga class? It is polite to ask the instructor first. Most of the time, there will not be a problem bringing a small rubber athletic mat to yoga class. Please bring a small one and not one that can roll over other people's mats. Rubber mats are often sold as tai chi mats.
The problem is that rubber mats are made of latex which is something some people can be very allergic to. Lots of people have to touch the mats with their bare skin in order to perform some of the positions. If you know you have a latex allergy (and you'll know if you do), please tell your yoga instructor as soon as possible so all latex can be moved as far away from you as possible.
Jute mats in yoga classes get dirty and damp with sweat very quickly. Because they are made of natural plant fibers, they will rot unless you regularly clean your jute mat. Any jute mat for yoga should come with cleaning instructions. Most need to be hand washed, but some can survive a machine washing. There are even yoga mat wipes available on the market.