When I choose a yoga mat, I like to look for the most practical attributes like what is it made out of, how does it feel under my hands, feet, elbows, knees, and even my face (after I flop down after a particularly challenging sequence). I want to know how it stands up, so to speak, to a hot sweaty, vigorous practice as well as a gentle practice (i.e. could I get comfortable in Savasana). So Barefoot’s PER Jute Yoga Mat is on the floor now. The first thing I noticed about Barefoot’s Jute yoga mat was its look. And, indeed, the product descriptions that accompanied it highlighted this distinctive look and feel. With its natural jute fibers, it stands out from other mats (you may not need to write your name on this one), and it could double as a cool area rug in an Asian inspired room. A perk or trivial? You decide. But here’s my breakdown.
- Pro-Planet – Jute is a natural vegetable plant and a sustainable, affordable resource. And PER stands for Polymer Environmental Resin, which means it is eco-friendly and doesn’t harm you or the people making the mat. Barefoot Yoga also uses eco-friendly packaging.
- Lightweight – This sucker is easy to take around in your car, the bus, the subway, or you could roll it up in a duffle if you’re traveling longer distances.
- Friendlier Price – At $42.95, this is easier on your wallet then other eco-friendly mats.
- No cheating allowed – Some sticky mats can do more of the work for you by making it easy for your feet and hands to grip the mat, but not this mat. Its natural fibers make me think that if you’re into recreating the experience of yogis 5,000 years ago, this mat is one of the closest you can get, save for practicing on dried palm tree leaves.
- Thin – The flip side of being lightweight is that you lose out on some nice padding for the extra bony parts like elbows & knees.
- Unpleasant texture – All said and done, I wasn’t keen on the knobby, rough texture. It was somewhat uncomfortable for my hands and feet, never mind my face. I walked away with temporary tattoos on my forehead (from Child’s Pose), arms and legs.
- Mat burn – If you slide your feet while transitioning from Upward-Facing Dog to Downward-Facing Dog, don’t be surprised if you feel a little burn. This mat is rough on the skin, particularly in poses that are weight-bearing on your elbows & knees. My elbows got pretty scraped up in Forearm Plank, Forearm Stand and Headstand; they still look like they’re recovering from a tumble off a bike. Eventually, for any forearm poses, I flipped the mat over to avoid rubbing any more skin off, which was annoying to say the least.
- Slippery – I’m skeptical this mat can compete with other sticky mats. In spite of the rough texture, the surface was still slippery at times, though perhaps this changes after months or years of use. And even more bothersome is that the bottom of the mat has little to no grip as well, so it slides on wood floors. I had to move into jumps or wide lunges with way more caution, and after most vinyasas, I’d have to smooth out the mat since it would bunch up with my feet in transitions from Upward Facing Dog to Downward Facing Dog.
- Vulnerable to dirty feet – The mat’s light tone might be susceptible to being sullied, so if you’re not a fan of foot prints on your mat, this might not be the best bet for you.
- Questionable long-term durability – I’m not sure how this mat would stand up to the test of many yoga hours, whether the jute fibers would start to shed and flake off. The jury is still out on this.
When to practice on it
The PER Jute Yoga Mat could work for gentle yoga styles with a blanket nearby for padding. However, it may not be the best for vigorous, less prop heavy practices like power yoga or Ashtanga, if you don’t already have a mat towel to act as a buffer.
Has it won me over?
I was intrigued by the mat, but as a Vinyasa practitioner, this wouldn’t be my choice. I could certainly make do with it on the go as long as I have a blanket or towel to help soften the roughness.
You can buy this yoga mat on Amazon.