An ayurvedic yoga experience: why you need a natural yoga mat

Yoga, at its base, is mindfulness in motion.

Ayurveda is a traditional Indian system of medicine. Its aim is to preserve health and wellness by keeping the mind, body, and spirit in balance. The aromatherapeutic quality of the herbs create an Ayurvedic yoga experience, they are relaxing and grounding, bringing more awareness and connection to your practice. 

Each mat is dyed naturally with medicinal herbs, which is an ancient Ayurvedic method of dying fabric using plants. The roots, flowers, leaves, seeds and barks of more than 20 medicinal herbs are used to make the dyes. The skin, which is our largest organ, absorbs the medicinal herbs that have created a micro-environment on the mat’s surface. When in contact with the skin, our therapeutic yoga mat fabric passes its medicinal properties obtained from the plants to the body, and enhances the skin’s potential to resist any harmful foreign substances. Studies have shown that absorbing these medical herbs through the skin can reduce inflammation and boost our immune system.

Chromotherapy, or color therapy

You may be wondering why our yoga mats are bright and colorful, even though we are approaching winter. There is a reason behind this choice, and it is called color therapy. Color therapy uses color to treat physical and mental health by balancing the body’s energy centers, otherwise known as the chakras.

With the shorter, grey days, colder weather and approaching winter we wanted to use the mats as a way to uplift the spirits and improve our overall mood – not only by the yoga practice, but also but also by the mat itself. Since everything we do is preceded with reflection, intention and meaning, so are the names of our yoga mats.

This is why each mat is called by its corresponding Chakra. Chakras are the concentrated energy centers of the body, each of them has its own color and meaning. Yellow is the colour of Manipura Chakra, where the name of our yoga mat comes from.  Yellow is often associated with the sun, vitality, clarity, self-expression, intellect, and courage. It was thought to stimulate nerves and help purify the body. The name of our green yoga mat, Anahata, comes from the green chakra. Green is a cool color that symbolizes nature and the natural world. Green has strong associations with nature, and evokes a feeling of abundance and is associated with refreshment and peace, rest and security.

Grip strength – our modern struggle

As humans, we all have a certain level of grip strength, also known as squeezing. Your ability to squeeze using your muscles is a key overall health indicator.

It turns out, however, that as people shaped in the conditions of general prosperity, developed industry and technology, we have less and less grip strength – according to a study in the Journal of Hand Therapy, our grip is way weaker than the previous generation. The way we use our hands and exercise our grip has changed significantly over the years. We now spend our days using computers, holding our phones and texting, and we don’t carry things as much as we used to. The reason for that is that technology has removed the need for a strong grip, and made it almost optional. Foot grip strength is just as important, having a close connection with our back health.

If you practise yoga, you will know that it is particularly important when you do any arm balances or inversions as those rely heavily on your grip on the ground. The practice of yoga offers an amazing opportunity to improve grip strength, among plenty of other benefits. However, by using extra grip, sticky yoga mats we often miss this opportunity. Comfort prevents growth, and as much as the extra-grip mats are comfortable, they also make it harder to improve our grip strength. A lasting comfort in your asanas should come from your yoga practice, not the mat you’re using. The goal of yoga is to find comfort and stillness within those challenging poses, which allows your practice to grow and progress.

This new type of movement that we now do daily asks the fingers to move very quickly, with close to no force, and in only one main direction – down. We don’t get a lot of the grip strengthening out of lifting or carrying anymore. Finger movement and gripping happens thanks to the muscles. Interestingly, however, these muscles are not directly in the fingers and thumbs. In the human body, tendons typically connect muscle to bone and ligaments connect bone to bone. The tendons that control the bones in the fingers are attached to seventeen muscles in the hand and eighteen in the forearm. The hand muscles that control the fingers are called the internal muscles. The external muscles are those in the forearm. This means that to look at the strength of the grip, we’re mainly looking at what is going on in our forearms.

A yoga mat for grip strength

The alternative to the extra-grip yoga mats we’re all used to are natural, cotton mats.

Purnama yoga mats are ethically handwoven in India, the birthplace of Yoga. Yoga rugs are the original mat design yoga was created and practiced on for centuries. We strive to combine ancient rituals & philosophies with modern design & functionality.

These mats provide just enough grip –  the amount which allows you to use your own hand & foot grip strength to keep your feet in place. Not having enough grip creates a very challenging practice and is uncomfortable and frustrating, not something we recommend. The same goes for extra grip mats – they create almost no challenge at all, and create a practice in which you are using the mat to support you, instead of your own strength. Of course enough grip may be different to everyone, as it changes depending on individual level of strength, difficulty of practiced asanas and how much we sweat. However, we recommend that you try a yoga mat which improves your grip and provides a slight challenge to the practice, while still maintaining support. Also, the more you sweat, the more grip you’re gonna have.

The natural grip provided by our mats promotes better posture and more strength than a standard yoga mat. Our Ayurvedic mats are made from densely woven cotton which retains shape and absorbs moisture. Our mats are antibacterial & antifungal. They offer a great grip and are slip resistant thanks to special grip lines at both ends of the mat. This naturally creates a better alignment and keeps your hands and feet in place throughout your entire yoga practice. The mats have natural latex coating on the underside of the mat, which provides a strong floor grip. The latex comes directly from the rubber trees, avoiding any additional substances, preservatives, or chemicals. 

A deeper meaning

Our yoga mat is like our sacred space. This is where we come not only to practice asanas, but also to do the inner work and feel more connected. That is why we believe we should also feel a true connection to our yoga mat itself.

Purnama yoga mats are hand-spun – using the best quality materials, hand-loomed – supporting the ancient traditions, and hand-dyed with medicinal plants – making sure there are no chemicals used. This makes the entire process of making the mats fully hand-made. Each one is unique and made with the intention of love and kindness, with appreciation to the rich weaving traditions of India.

Yoga is a spiritual practice, which is why our yoga mats are handmade in a peaceful setting by local craftsmen and not made in factories in China. We support preserving the tradition and art of weaving, and are proud to be providing a livelihood for our weavers and their families.

We believe this gives a different intention and energy to the mat and the entire practice of yoga.