bYo - the development of a yoga mat - part 2

In Part 1, we explained why we think it's time for a new yoga mat. Today you will find out why natural rubber is not (yet) really convincing as a material.
Our new yoga mat bYo already has several previous versions that have not reached the market. We tested different materials, including several variants with natural rubber. Wait a minute, natural rubber (Gummi elasticum), that sounds good, doesn't it? After all, it is a natural material that is obtained from the rubber tree. It is also elastic, hard-wearing and, depending on the thickness, also offers good cushioning on a yoga mat. So, all good one would think. And so we have also developed some mats made entirely or partially from natural rubber.
Some of our beta versions

The first problems that we recognized were already in the material. It was sometimes very difficult to get comprehensible certificates that it was really 100% natural rubber. For example, admixtures may take place, although this is often not recognizable. Other producers then call it natural latex, for example, but it actually only contains around 10-30% natural rubber. So the task here would be to get the material from a certified company. Simply offering another product on the diverse market was out of the question for us.

In addition, natural rubber products often develop a strong rubber smell in the first few weeks. Even if this is not harmful to health, it is very important, especially with a yoga mat, that there are no disruptive factors during training.

Unfortunately, abrasion was also an issue with a mat. For example, we developed a beta version where the surface was cork and the rest of the mat was natural rubber. At higher loads, abrasion occurred. You have to know that not only plastic, but microparticles fundamentally pollute our environment and oceans. Therefore, further development of this version was out of the question for us.

Nevertheless, we consider the problems that we see here to be solvable, precisely because, as mentioned at the beginning, there are also very good positive aspects. The following factors are required for this:

• Production of natural rubber with proof of certificate
• no perceptible odor
• highly resilient without abrasion

At least for the time being, we do not consider these points to be fulfilled. For these reasons, our project stalled in the meantime and we were looking for a solution that met our expectations. Other interesting materials were and are also on our list to develop a sustainable solution for a yoga mat that also meets our criteria. In terms of design, we were not yet at the ideal. How we then took a decisive step, you will learn in the next part. Until then!