For those of you who like to see the results first, see our final ranking right up top😘 . If the nerd in you wants to see how we arrived at these results, read on!
Drawing on our practice experience, hundreds of hours spent researching material products and thousands of customer product reviews later - we engineered our mats to ensure they are the only mat you will ever need to buy. Below are the considerations we decided were "must haves":
Double sided and reversible. Because why wouldn't you want to have two beautiful sides to choose from?
Durable. We want your mat to last a long time, because the longer your products last the less impact we all have on the earth!
Thick - but not too thick. We want our mats to be thick enough for comfort but thin enough to not impact your connection with the ground.
Healthy. We want you to feel safe using our product. We don't want any allergic reactions, skin sensitivities, or toxic releases during hot practices.
Environmentally conscious. We want our products to optimise our key necessities, while still being made with the earth in mind.
Versatile. We want our mats to be used for more than just yoga. Think outside the box! They're durable for those HITT sessions, comfortable enough for meditations, and toxic free / sweat resistant for hot yoga sweat sessions.
This blog steps through the Alejae mat multicriteria analysis (MCA - learn more about what this is at the end of the blog) and shows you why we know our mats are the best (and maybe only) engineered mats on the market.
For health we considered the antimicrobial/bacterial properties of each material, the presence and/or release potential of toxic materials (both in processing and during use), the presense of latex and the potentcy of the smell. Since many people (myself included) are allergic to latex and other natural materials it was important to capture this in the design, these were binary rankings (either 1 or 5). The last thing we want is someone breaking out into hives during their practice! Cork and TPE ranked first and third respectively. Since non-allergy inducing was ranked as a 'must have' for our mats we eliminated natural rubber and jute from our selection process as natural rubber is latex and jute induces too many sensitivities.
As you can probably guess, the natural products scored higher in our environment considerations. It should be noted that we haven't included transportation from the source to the manufacturing area (you can read more about the impact of this in our blog). Of the non-natural materials the TPE scored the highest, it could have gained some more points if we consider the benefit that our mats are made of recycled material, but since not all are and since this is tricky to definitively verify we left the 'sustainable supply chain' ranking low. Cork was rated top score for the natural materials. While jute and natural rubber scored high for environment, they were not candidates for the selection due to their allergy components.
Here is where we considered thickness for comfort. From our research we knew we wanted a 5 mm thick mat, so we needed to consider materials with flexibility to achieve this. We also considered how the material would provide insulation if used on a cold concrete floor, the material weight, how easily the material could be washed and the resistance to grease/water. How quickly the material would absorb water (permeability) for sweaty practices is a key consideration for hot practices, since we want the sweat to somewhat absorb into the mat to stop slipping, we wanted the materials to be permeable. A 'must have' for our design was also the durability and versatility of our mats, which made the product density (how tightly compacted the particles/bonding that holds the material is), durability (degradation with water, sunlight and force) and performance in heat (can you use the mat for hot yoga) key considerations here. TPE rated the highest alongside PU for material properties, as anticipated non-natural materials can be manufactured to achieve higher grade and properties. Cork was the highest rating natural material.
Considering our 'must have' components, our extensive research and our detailed engineered MCA, we arrived at an overall blended mat of TPE and Cork! We hope you can value the extensive design process that went into the Alejae mats, and that you can use this information yourself to make informed decisions about products you purchase now and in the future!
What is an MCA?
First things first, since we used a multicriteria Analysis (MCA) we thought we better start with what an MCA is. In engineering design the first step is to decide what the product 'shell' is going to look like. This means you need to get together all of the possible options. In our case, our options are our mat materials. We then set our evaluation criteria. These are the key criteria that are important to us and our brand. Once we have all of the possible options (and I mean all of them) together with our evaluation criteria, we research. We do an extensive deep dive into each material to understand all of its pros, cons and know that we understand fully how it fits with our evaluation criteria. This includes technical components (such as material density, porosity and heat resistance), environmental, health, and feel. Part of understanding how the mat materials stack up involves reading over thousands of reviews of yoga mats this gives us invaluable insight into product performance - real feedback is such a key consideration for us. Each material is then ranked against the evaluation criteria with a number between 1 (worst) and 5 (best). A total score is then assigned to each mat and you can then see what materials have the overall best benefits. The rankings are somewhat subjective, meaning that (for example) if engineers cant differentiate the benefits of material density for two materials, they would be assigned the same ranking, and a material that can achieve a higher density than those two would then be allocated something higher depending on how much more advantageous it is. The same applies for lower rankings, where the material with the worst density may be allocated a score of 1, and the other materials are quantitively scaled off of that value (this is known as a comparative ranking).
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