The promotional yoga mat has become very popular recently and is great way to display your brand in the context of health and wellbeing. Whilst many of the mats we do are for gyms – there are also a number of health, drinks and even insurance companies who see the yoga mat as a good promotional idea. This article discusses choosing a yoga mat, from the different materials, the different thicknesses of mat and the different methods of printing your logo.
Different Yoga Mat materials.
Yoga mats, whether for promotional purposes or not, are made from a variety of materials each with different properties and costs, this is not an exhaustive list since some manufacturers combine two or more layers of different materials. But the principal materials are
1. Natural rubber
The obvious first benefit of this product is in the name – it is a natural product which will biodegrade under the right conditions. Most Yoga students like the combination of not to springy and yet comfortable combination which rubber provides being the best overall texture. However, natural rubber is heavy and expensive, ideal material mat for a gym to have not so great if you have to carry it around. Another disadvantage, is that some people are allergic to natural late.
Thermoplastic Elastomers (TPE) is group of copolymers which can be foamed to create a mat with a great combination of properties. The TPE mat tends to have a more porous open cell structure which translates into a surface which is less slippery than most. TPE is much lighter than natural rubber making it ideal for travelling and transporting to the gym. Environmentally it has none of the phthalates and other nasties of many foamed plastics and in principle it is recyclable, although I am not sure many UK local authorities would have the capability for such recycling. Certainly less harmful than most
PVC, which can be created with an open celled structure of foam, was the most common alternative to natural rubber. It is extremely light and hard wearing and very cheap. One criticism was that the surface could become a little sticky during usage. However it was then discovered that the phthalates used in production are linked to health issues and have a significant effect on the environment. As well not being able to recycle PVC is gives off noxious fume when burnt. Overall the environmental issues with PVC tend to makes this a no-no in a health conscious market like yoga.
There are a number of sources of mats which describe the mat as PER – ‘Polymer environmental resin’. This is not a recognised chemical formula but rather a trade name of a material which is essentially PVC but without using the phthalate plasticiser to soften for foaming purposes. The mats have similar physical properties as the PVC mat but in our opinion does not completely overcome the environmental issues associates with PVC.
Sometimes called hemp, jute is a course natural fibre which has been weaved into mats for centuries. Given the roots of yoga in India it is not surprising that some proponents like the return to this Indian sourced material. As a mat you may find a little scratchy and as a promotional item not a great surface for printing although this can be done.
Like Jute this is natural fibre which will of course biodegrade or can be recycled. Not as scratchy as jute but the fibres of cotton can become a little slippery during yoga compared to a natural rubber. Similar issue of printing as per jute and not commonly used in the promotional goods industry.
When considering the rubber/TPE and PVC substitutes the next question is the thickness. Yoga mats vary from 3mm up to 10mm thickness. Obviously the thicker the material the more shock absorption. However the thicker the mat the heavier it becomes which can be an issue for natural rubbers. Our recommendation would be a 3-4 mm for a natural rubber or 6-8mm for a TPE as providing the best combination of properties. It should be stressed however that there is a good deal of personal choice and preference in this decision.
Printing Yoga Mats
For a promotional good the mat clearly need to be printed with the brand in question. This is not as straightforward as it may seem. Whilst PVC is a good printing surface, TPE and natural rubber are not, especially when they carry an embossed pattern design to aid grip on the surface of the mat.
Pavilion does have a solution for the printing of TPE mats but clients need to be aware that because what a yoga mat is, ink will come under significant duress. Not just the sweaty body rubbing against the ink but also the mat being wiped down, rolled and unrolled. We thus have a number of specific recommendations for printing the surface
- Print one colour – registration of multiple colours is possible but results are not great
- Print an area no larger than an A5 across the bottom of the mat – not the centre of the mat. This will minimise possible scuffing and wear.
- Keep a simple design with no tone work so that we can screen print with an ink with special adhesion properties.
Alternative to printed yoga mats
An alternative to printing the mat itself is to print the carry case. Not as great for the branding and the messaging but at least the case does not come under the same sorts of stresses and strains and is made of a material which is substantially easier to print.
If you have any doubts or need to have chat give us a call to discuss what you are trying to achieve.