Title:
Composite yoga mats
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
This invention provides composite yoga mats comprising a fabric sheet with a frictional material and/or loop holes to provide support, a stable surface, and moisture absorption for the practice of yoga.



Inventors:
Edwards, Richard (Oakland, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/036969
Publication Date:
09/01/2005
Filing Date:
01/14/2005
Assignee:
EDWARDS RICHARD
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
482/148
International Classes:
A63B1/00; A63B6/00; A63B23/02; A63B26/00; (IPC1-7): A63B26/00; A63B1/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MATHEW, FENN C
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
QIPLG (San Leandro, CA, US)
Claims:
1. A composite yoga mat comprising: a moisture absorbent fabric sheet comprising a first side presenting a moisture absorbent surface, and a second side; and, a frictional material disposed on the fabric sheet second side; whereby the yoga mat provides moisture absorption and a stable surface for practice of yoga.

2. The yoga mat of claim 1, wherein the fabric sheet comprises: terry cloth, chamois, synthetic chamois, hydrophilic fibers, fibers with a hydrophilic coating, a combination of absorbent and nonabsorbent fibers, microfibers, nanofibers, plant fibers, cellulose, polyester, hemp, cotton or paper.

3. The yoga mat of claim 1, wherein the fabric sheet comprises a width less than about 3 feet and a length less than about 6 feet.

4. The yoga mat of claim 1, wherein the fabric sheet further comprises a reinforced peripheral edge.

5. The yoga mat of claim 4, wherein the fabric sheet further comprises two or more opposing loop holes adjacent to the peripheral edge, the loop holes comprising internal circumferences of more than about 6 inches.

6. The yoga mat of claim 1, wherein the frictional material comprises: a rubber, a foam rubber, a resilient polymer, a polyvinyl foam, a sponge, cork, or silicone rubber.

7. The yoga mat of claim 1, wherein the frictional material comprises: a continuous surface, a textured surface, indicia, or a pattern.

8. The yoga mat of claim 1, further comprising frictional material disposed on the first side of the fabric sheet.

9. The yoga mat of claim 8, wherein the frictional material comprises a pattern or indicia.

10. The yoga mat of claim 8, wherein the frictional material comprises about 20% to about 60% of the first side.

11. The yoga mat of claim 1, further comprising one or more connectors functionally mounted to: maintain a rolled configuration, bind two or more mats together, or to fix a constrictable loop in a desired position.

12. A yoga mat comprising: a fabric sheet comprising a first side, a second side, and a peripheral edge; and, two or more opposing loop holes adjacent to the peripheral edge, the loop holes comprising an internal circumference of more than about 6 inches; whereby the yoga positions can be learned or practiced by insertion of body appendages into the loop holes or constrictable loops formed therefrom.

13. The yoga mat of claim 12, wherein the fabric sheet comprises a moisture absorbent material selected from the group consisting of: terry cloth, chamois, synthetic chamois, hydrophilic fibers, fibers with a hydrophilic coating, microfibers, nanofibers, a combination of absorbent and nonabsorbent fibers, plant fibers, cellulose, polyester, hemp, or cotton.

14. The yoga mat of claim 12, wherein the comprising a length more than about 3 feet and a width about 18 inches or less.

15. The yoga mat of claim 12, further comprising a frictional material disposed on the fabric sheet first side or second side.

16. The yoga mat of claim 15, wherein the frictional material comprises: a rubber, a foam rubber, a resilient polymer, a polyvinyl foam, a sponge, cork, or silicone rubber.

17. The yoga mat of claim 12, wherein the peripheral edge or loop hole internal circumferences comprise reinforcing material.

18. The yoga mat of claim 12, further comprising one or more connectors functionally mounted to: maintain rolled configuration, bind two or more mats together, or to fix a constrictable loop in a desired position.

19. The yoga mat of claim 12, further comprising one or more intermediate loop holes between the opposing perforations.

20. A method of practicing yoga using the yoga mat of claim 12.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO PRIOR APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to and benefit of a prior U.S. provisional application No. 60/536,857, Composite Yoga Mats by Richard Edwards, filed Jan. 15, 2004. The full disclosure of this prior application is incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is in the field of accessories for the practice of yoga. In particular, the invention provides, e.g., multifunctional composite yoga mats that provide support, comfort, stability, and functional indicia that facilitate practice of yoga.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Many yoga positions and forms of yoga practice can be performed on a floor without any special implements. Yoga has been traditionally practiced with the practitioner changing positions on a mat, such as a tatami mat. However, traditional mats are not portable and many modern mats are uncomfortable and slippery when wet. In addition, current yoga mats and accessories fail to provide multiple benefits, such as personal surfaces, cushioning, sweat absorption, aid in attaining positions, compactness, a stable foundation, and/or positional reference frames.

Yoga practitioners typically arrive at group practice with personal yoga mats. These mats can stake out a location on the floor for the individual, provide some cushioning, and provide a personal contact surface for each practitioner. However, these mats can be unstable, slippery, unhygienic, and provide few functional benefits beyond presentation of a homogenous padded surface.

One common type of yoga mat is a sheet of polyvinyl foam. The sheet is unrolled on the floor to serve as a yoga mat. However, as yoga can be strenuous the mat can become contaminated with sweat. This can be particularly troublesome for practitioners of bikram yoga, wherein the exercises are practiced in hot environments. Sweat can accumulate on the hydrophobic mats making them slippery, uncomfortable, and unhygienic.

Another problem with typical yoga mats is their lack of stability. During dynamic transitions between yoga positions, supporting body parts can slip on the mat or the mat can slip across the floor. This problem can make practice of some positions difficult of hazardous.

During the learning process, or in the practice of difficult positions, there can be a need for an extended reach or additional support. Yoga practitioners can use looped cords, such as those described in international publication number WO 03/018139, Method and Apparatus for Performing Stretching Exercises, by Flynn; or, U.S. Pat. No. 6,368,255, Device for Stretching and Yoga, to Chan-Rouse. However, these yoga straps provide only the support function. There are only so many yoga implements practitioners can carry. A clutter of devices in the practice room can disturb the serenity of the traditional yoga environment.

In view of the above, a need exists for a yoga mat that provides a combination of moisture absorbance, comfort, and stability. It would be desirable to have yoga mats that contribute multiple benefits beyond cushioning the surface. Benefits could be derived from yoga mats tailored to unique combinations of yoga practitioner needs. The present invention provides these and other features that will be apparent upon review of the following.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Composite yoga mats of the invention can provide unique combinations of practical functions not available from traditional yoga mats. Yoga mats of the invention can absorb moisture, control transfer of moisture, provide cushioning, insulate, provide stability, present functional information, be lightweight and portable, and/or the like. Yoga mats of the invention generally comprise, e.g., a moisture absorbent fabric sheet having a moisture absorbent first side surface, and a frictional material disposed on the fabric sheet second side to provide-cushioning and a stable yoga practice surface.

The moisture absorbent fabric sheet of the yoga mats can include shapes and materials suitable for particular intended uses within the field of yoga practice. The strength and absorbency of yoga mats can be influenced by the choice of materials. The yoga mats can be manufactured from, e.g., terry cloth, chamois, synthetic chamois, hydrophilic fibers, fibers with a hydrophilic coating, a combination of absorbent and nonabsorbent fibers, microfibers, nanofibers, fibers embedded with a rubber, plant fibers, cellulose, polyester, hemp, cotton, paper, and/or the like. More absorbent materials can be preferred in high moister yoga environments, while stronger or more cushioned materials can be preferred for more dynamic aerobic forms of yoga. Yoga mats of the invention can have a fabric sheet width, e.g., less than about 3 or 4 feet and a length less than about 6 or 7 feet; larger sizes can provide bigger practice surfaces, or narrower dimensions can be well suited for yoga mats focusing on strap/loop support utilities. The yoga mat fabric sheet can have a reinforced peripheral edge to provide strength and wear resistance. Yoga mats of the invention can have, e.g., fabric sheets with two or more opposing loop holes adjacent to the peripheral edge with holes large enough to make a loop by insertion of the other end of the mat, or large enough to insert fingers, hands, feet, etc., for support in particular yoga positions. The loop holes often have an internal circumference more than about 6 inches.

In one embodiment, yoga mats of the invention are configured to support yoga practitioners in strenuous or difficult positions. For example, a yoga mat can be provided with dimensions and loop holes well adapted for use in a functional yoga strap configuration. The fabric sheet can have, e.g., two or more opposing loop holes with an internal circumference of more than about 6 inches adjacent to a reinforced peripheral edge so that yoga positions can be learned or practiced by insertion of body appendages into the loop holes or constrictable loops formed with the mat. Loop holes can be made more strong and wear resistant by reinforcing the internal circumference. Yoga mats configured for use as yoga straps typically have narrow dimensions with loop holes on the ends. For example, the yoga mats can have a length more than about 3 feet while the width is about 18 inches, 12 inches, 6 inches, or less. Intermediate loop holes can be included to provide a range of possible support locations on a mat or choice of constrictable loop sizes.

The frictional material of the yoga mats can be disposed on the absorbent fabric to provide, e.g., slippage prevention, blockage of moisture transfer, cushioning, ornamental designs, instructional indicia, etc. The frictional material can comprises rubber, foam rubber, resilient polymers, polyvinyl foam, sponge, cork, silicone rubber, and/or the like. Frictional material can be disposed on the fabric in a continuous surface, a textured surface, as informative indicia, as a pattern, as a layer, interwoven with the fabric, and/or the like. Frictional material can be disposed on both sides of the fabric sheet, e.g., to provide a non-slip or decorative function on both sides of the met. Frictional material ornamental patterns or indicia are preferred on the first side, facing the yoga practitioner. Frictional material can be absent from the first side or comprise, e.g., about 20% to about 60% of the first side.

Yoga mats of the invention can include connectors to stabilize desired configurations or to connect two or more yoga mats. For example, connectors can be provided to maintain a rolled configuration, bind two or more mats together, or to fix a constrictable loop in a desired position.

The present invention includes methods of practicing yoga using the composite yoga mats of the invention. The unique combination of features provided by the yoga mats of the invention allows, e.g., practice of yoga in an environment unavailable with traditional mats. Composite yoga mats provide a stable, dry location for yoga exercises, loop supports for difficult positions, and the ability to expand or thicken the practice surface.

DEFINITIONS

Before describing the present invention in detail, it is to be understood that this invention is not limited to particular devices or combinations of materials, which can, of course, vary. It is also to be understood that the terminology used herein is for the purpose of describing particular embodiments only, and is not intended to be limiting. As used in this specification and the appended claims, the singular forms “a”, “an” and “the” can include plural referents unless the content clearly dictates otherwise. Thus, for example, reference to “a frictional material” can include a combination of two or more frictional materials; reference to “fabric” can include mixtures of fabrics, and the like.

Unless defined otherwise, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art to which the invention pertains. Although many methods and materials similar, modified, or equivalent to those described herein can be used in the practice of the present invention without undue experimentation, the preferred materials and methods are described herein. In describing and claiming the present invention, the following terminology will be used in accordance with the definitions set out below.

The term “Composite yoga mat” or yoga mat of the invention, as used herein, refers to a yoga mat fabricated from two or more materials, or two or more structural elements, to provide functions adapted to the practice of yoga. For example, composite yoga mats can be fabricated with a combination of a moisture absorbent material and a frictional material. A composite yoga mat can be fabricated to include various structural elements including combinations of loop holes for gripping and supporting, frictional surfaces to prevent slipping, reinforced edges to add strength and comfort, patterns and/or indicia to provide positioning references and an attractive appearance, connectors to maintain a compact roll or bind multiple mats together, long thin mats to function as pads and straps, large wide mats to provide an adequate defined yoga practice surface, and/or the like.

The term “moisture absorbent”, as used herein, refers to material that has an affinity for water (hydrophilic). Moisture absorbent fabric sheets can include, e.g., materials that draw moisture away from yoga practitioners and/or frictional materials of the invention.

The term “frictional material”, as used herein, refers to materials disposed on fabric sheets of the invention to provide reduced slippage between the yoga mat and the yoga practitioner or the floor. Frictional materials can include, e.g., materials with a coefficient of friction greater than that of the fabric sheet. Frictional materials can include, e.g., materials with a coefficient of static or kinetic friction greater than about 0.6 in contact with typical surfaces encountered in yoga practice. Typical frictional materials of the invention include, e.g., rubber, foam rubber, resilient polymers, polyvinyl foam, sponge, cork, silicone rubber, and the like. Frictional materials can also contribute other characteristics to the composite mats of the invention, such as, e.g., cushioning, absorbency, ornamental designs, toughness, and the like.

The term “loop holes”, as used herein, refers to holes running through a yoga mat of the invention with a location and size appropriate for formation of constrictable loops, gripping with hands or feet, and/or for insertion of appendages for support during yoga exercises.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIGS. 1A and 1B are schematic diagrams of an exemplary composite yoga mat having loop holes and frictional material disposed on both sides of the mat.

FIG. 2A is a schematic diagram of an exemplary composite yoga mat having loop holes and FIG. 2B is a schematic diagram of the mat configured to provide a constrictable loop.

FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram of two yoga mats bound together with a connector to form a larger mat.

FIG. 4 is a schematic diagram showing a cross-section through an exemplary composite yoga mat.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Composite yoga mats of the invention are fabricated from two or more materials, e.g., adapted to provide two or more characteristics particularly tailored to the needs of yoga practitioners. The environment for practice of yoga can require, e.g., a well defined space, maintenance of dry surfaces, provision of reach and support for some positions, stable surfaces for dynamic motions, and comfortable contact surfaces. Yoga mats of the invention provide a unique combination of features, such as, e.g., a moisture absorbent base fabric for contact with the practitioner, a friction material to provide a stable yoga platform, informative indicia, and/or perforations to support body appendages in new or difficult positions.

In one embodiment, for example, the yoga mat of the invention can be an absorbent terrycloth sheet embedded on one side with a flexible foam rubber coating of frictional material, and having loop-hole perforations at opposite ends useful in looping support for arms and legs. The yoga mat can be placed on the floor with the absorbent fabric facing up and the frictional material facing down so that a yoga practitioner can have a comfortable dry contact with the mat, and which will not slip as her body shifts in dynamic yoga transitional motions. Hands and feet can be inserted into the loop holes to provide support when certain difficult positions are required in a yoga exercise sequence.

Moisture Absorbent Fabric Sheets

Moisture absorbent fabric sheets of the invention can provide, e.g., the base fabric of the yoga mats. The sheets can provide, e.g., strength, moisture absorbency, cushioning, a comfortable texture, positioning indicia, a defined yoga practice floor space, and/or loop holes for positional support.

Fabric sheets of the invention can be fabricated from any suitable moisture absorbent material. Exemplary fabrics can include materials such as terry cloth, chamois, synthetic chamois, hydrophilic fibers, fibers with a hydrophilic coating, microfibers, nanofibers, a combination of absorbent and nonabsorbent fibers, plant fibers, cellulose, polyester, hemp, cotton, and/or the like. Base fabrics for the yoga mats of the invention can include, e.g., terry cloth, wool, flannel, microfiber fabric, paper, and/or the like. The fabric can be, e.g., continuous, non-porous, finely woven, coarsely woven, a network of fibers, matted fibers, or directed strands.

In one embodiment, the fabric sheets include microfibers (having a dimension in the range from about 1000 μm to 0.1 μm) or nanofibers (having a dimension in the range from about 1000 nm to about 1 nm). The nanofibers or microfibers can have a large surface to volume ratio for an increased ability to adsorb or absorb water. The nanofibers or microfibers can have a rough or porous surface to increase water absorbency. The nanofibers or microfibers can have a hydrophilic surface to increase water absorbency. The nanofibers or microfibers can interact with frictional material, e.g., by covalent linkage chemistries, hydrophobic bonding, and the like, so that the frictional material can be disposed on the fabric sheet with bonding at a molecular level. Optionally, the frictional material can be in the form of a fiber disposed on the fabric sheet interwoven with the absorbent fibers.

The fabric sheets can have dimensions appropriate to the particular yoga practice use. For example, a fabric sheet can have a width ranging, e.g., from less than about 6 inches to more than about 4 feet, from about 12 inches to about 3 feet, or 18 inches to about 2 feet. A fabric sheet can have a length ranging, e.g., from more than about 8 feet to less than about 2 feet, from about 6 feet to about 3 feet, or from about 5 feet to about 4 feet. In one preferred embodiment, the yoga mat is about 30 inches wide by about 6 feet long. In another preferred embodiment, the yoga mat is about 12 inches wide and about 3 feet long. Yoga mats of the invention are typically based on fabric sheets rectangular in shape but can be, e.g., square, round, oblong, oval, trapezoid, diamond shaped, or the like. The dimensions of yoga mats in the invention can be varied, e.g., by folding or by binding or unbinding two or more individual yoga mats from each other.

Fabric sheets of the yoga mats can have peripheral edges with specialized structures and functions. For example, the edges can be reinforced for strength and resistance to tearing. The reinforcement can be provided, e.g., by stitching, hemming, application of polymers, heat fusion of fibers, and/or the like. The edge can incorporate frictional materials to reduces slippage. The edge can be stiffer than the main body of the sheet to help provide a well defined and unwrinkled conformation to the yoga mat.

Fabric sheets can be woven or perforated to provide loop holes useful in the practice of certain yoga positions. The loop holes can have an inner circumference the size of a finger hole, or preferably about 6 inches or more. The loop holes can have reinforcement, similar to that described above for reinforcement of edges, e.g., to provide a three dimensional contact surface, and/or to prevent tearing of the fabric sheet.

Frictional Material

Frictional materials of the invention can be disposed on one side, both sides, and/or on edges of the moisture absorbent fabric sheet. The frictional materials can add toughness to the fabric sheet, prevent slipping between the yoga mat and the floor, prevent slipping between the yoga practitioner and the yoga mat, provide an ornamental design matrix, provide cushioning, provide absorption of moisture, and/or prevent transfer of moisture through the yoga mat.

Frictional materials can include, e.g., natural rubber, synthetic rubbers, composite materials, silicone rubber, plastics, cork, resilient polymers, and/or the like. Frictional materials typically provide higher levels of friction between the yoga mat and contact surfaces than the moisture absorbent fabric sheet. For example, preferred frictional materials can have a coefficient of static friction or kinetic friction greater than about 0.5, 0.6, about 0.7, about 0.8, or more, in contact with typical surfaces experienced in yoga practice, such as, e.g., wood, tile, plastic, or fabric flooring.

The frictional materials can have, e.g., an open or closed matrix. For example, the frictional material can be a closed impermeable layer or a porous network. The frictional material can be, e.g., an open cell or closed cell foam. The characteristics of the frictional material can be selected to complement the fabric sheet onto which it is disposed. In one embodiment, the frictional material is a continuous closed sheet that can seal off the yoga practioner from the practice floor. This embodiment can be well suited to situations, e.g., where it is desirable to protect the flooring material from sweat or to prevent moisture from moving up out of the ground when the practitioner exercises outdoors. In another embodiment, the frictional material is an open cell hydrophilic polymer foam. This embodiment can be desirable, e.g., to aid in the collection of sweat and to provide cushioning when practicing on a hard floor. The frictional material can be hydrophilic (water absorbent or water attractive), e.g., to absorb fluids, or hydrophobic (water repellent), e.g., to seal or redirect fluids from a surface.

Frictional materials can be disposed on (into and/or onto) moisture absorbent fabric sheets by a variety of methods known in the art. For example, the frictional material can be a layer bonded to the fabric sheet by stitching, adhesion, polymerization, heat bonding, and the like. The frictional material can be, e.g., a fibrous material and/or network woven among fibers of the moisture absorbent fabric sheet. The frictional material can be applied as a liquid or semisolid composition that hardens to bond after application. For example, the frictional material can be a molten or polymerizing material for application and binding to a fabric sheet side by spreading, spraying, brushing, dipping, and/or the like.

Frictional materials can be disposed on a first (e.g., top) side, a second (e.g., bottom) side, or on both sides of the fabric sheet. In one embodiment, the frictional material is disposed substantially onto the entire bottom side to the yoga mat fabric sheet. A substantially continuous covering of frictional material over the bottom side can provide, e.g., stiffness to the mat, a full friction (non-slip) surface, a full cushion surface, a sealing surface, an insulating surface, and/or the like. Optionally, the frictional material can be disposed discontinuously on a side of the fabric sheet. In one embodiment, the frictional material is disposed on the bottom side in a discontinuous layer that can provide, e.g., a coarse non-slip surface, allowance for fabric sheet breathing, a desirable texture that can be felt by the practitioner through the sheet, a functional or ornamental pattern, and/or the like. In another embodiment, frictional material is disposed on the top side (e.g., the side of the mat normally facing up when in use) of the fabric sheet. For example, a soft, hydrophilic frictional material composition can be disposed in a pattern on the top side, e.g., to provide cushioning, absorb sweat, provide an ornamental pattern, provide an instructional pattern, provide a frictional surface or texture, and/or the like. In still another embodiment, frictional material is disposed on both sides of the fabric sheet. For example, the bottom side can be substantially covered with a tough high friction frictional material, and the top side can be discontinuously covered with a softer absorbent frictional material in a geometric or instructional pattern. The bottom (second) side can have frictional material disposed over about 10% to about 100% of the surface, about 20% to about 80% of the surface, about 30% to about 70%, or about 60% of the surface; with a preferred coverage of from about 60% to about 100% of the bottom side surface. The top (first) side of the fabric sheet can have frictional material disposed over about 100% to about 0% of the surface, about 60% to about 5% of the surface, or from about 30% to about 10% of the surface; with a preferred coverage from about 30% to about 0% of the top surface.

The frictional material can have an appropriate thickness to provide desired properties. For example, the frictional material can be disposed in a thinner amount to provide for lightness, lower expense, greater flexibility, and the like. Frictional material can be disposed in a thicker amount to provide, e.g., more cushioning, more insulation, more stiffness, courser textures, and the like. Frictional materials can be disposed on (into and/or onto) one or more side of the absorbent fabric sheet to a thickness ranging from less than about 0.1 mil to more than about 1 cm, from about 1 mil to about 5 mm, or about 1 mm.

Patterns

Ornamental and/or functional patterns can be provided on one or both sides of the absorbent fabric sheet. The patterns can provide, e.g., functional indicia for the yoga practitioner, functional textures, uniform dispersal of frictional material, attractive designs, and/or the like.

Frictional material can be disposed on the top side of the yoga mat absorbent fabric sheet in an ornamental pattern or design. For example, the frictional material can be applied in pleasing geometric patterns, such as arrays of dots or cross-hatches, or, e.g., silk screened in scenes appropriate to meditation.

Frictional material can be disposed to provide functional properties to the yoga mat. For example, frictional material can be applied in patterns of human forms in typical yoga practice positions. In one embodiment, frictional materials are disposed on the top side in parallel lines, and in lines meeting at angles, that can be seen and felt by the practitioner to provide a frame of reference for proper body alignment and accurately directed dynamic motions. In other embodiments, the frictional material is disposed, e.g., in dotted, lined, or cross-hatched patterns conducive to hand and feet gripping during exercises. In addition to patterned disposition of frictional material on the top or bottom side, the surface of the frictional material itself can be textured to provide, e.g., ornamentation and/or enhanced non-slip function.

Loop Holes

Yoga mats of the invention can include loop holes to provide supporting interaction between the yoga mat and one or more yoga practitioners. Loop holes can provide, e.g., hand grips, support rungs, and/or constrictable loops to allow support of appendages during practice of certain yoga positions, and in stretching muscle groups. Loop holes can be provided at any position through the fabric sheet but loop holes near the peripheral edge are preferred.

Loop holes in yoga mats of the invention are typically perforations in the fabric sheet at opposing positions adjacent to the peripheral edge. For example, as shown in FIGS. 1A, 1B, 2A and 2B, loop holes 10 can be, e.g., oval perforations at opposite ends of yoga mat 11 long axis 12. The internal circumferences can measure less than 4 inches, or more than about 4 inches, 6 inches, 12 inches, or more, as required to allow passage of a hand, arm, foot, leg, for support. The loop hole internal circumference edge 13 can have reinforcement, as described for the sheet peripheral edge above. The reinforcement can be thickened parallel to the plane of the sheet to increase the surface for application of force and to provide comfort. Optionally, additional loop holes can be positioned between the opposing loop holes to provide alternative loop hole support.

Loop holes can be used to provide variable size constrictable loops to accommodate support of appendages. One or more sections of fabric sheet peripheral edge can be inserted through one or more loop holes and pulled to form one or more constrictable loops. As shown in FIG. 2B, for example, the opposite end of the yoga mat can be pulled through a loop hole to form constrictable loop 20. The size of the constrictable loop can be adjustable by pulling more or less of the mat through the loop hole, as is well appreciated by those skilled in the art. The constrictable loops allow for a firm grip on practitioner body parts or secure mounting to support hardware, such as a hand rail or post. The constrictable loop, or entire mat, can wrap around a practitioner's torso or waist to provide a hand grip, e.g., for support from a yoga instructor during lessons.

Connectors

Connectors can be provided on yoga mats of the invention, e.g., to stabilize desirable mat configurations. For example connectors can be used to hold a yoga mat in a rolled configuration for transport and storage. Connectors can bind multiple yoga mats together. Connectors can fix a constrictable loop at a desired position, such as a desired loop size. Connectors can be used to attach a composite yoga mat to the exercise floor, to tatami mats, to traditional mats, or other commonly available mats.

Yoga mats can be rolled up for easy and compact handling. The outer end of the roll can have one or more connectors to prevent unrolling. The connectors can be, e.g., string for tying around the roll, hook and loop (Velcro®) connectors, snaps, zippers, buckles, pins, clips, straps, buttons, and/or the like. Optionally, rolled yoga mats can be retained in a carry bag.

Two or more yoga mats can be bound together to provide a thicker mat or larger area mat surface. In one embodiment, as shown for example in FIG. 3, small yoga mat 30 of the invention, with loop holes 10, is bound to larger yoga mat 31 of the invention using, e.g., hook and loop strips. The small mat can alternately be used to thicken cushioning at one end of the mat (in a pillow-like configuration), expand the surface of the overall mat, or be removed from the larger mat for use in loop support practices described above. Yoga mats of the invention can be bound together, typically, at the peripheral edges. Connectors 21 for binding multiple yoga mats can include, e.g., zippers, hook and loop (Velcro®) connectors, snaps, laces, buckles, pins, clips, buttons, and/or the like.

Composite yoga mats can have connectors to attach them to the floor or other mats. Such attachment can further stabilize the yoga mat against slippage. Attachment to non-portable mats can provide the benefits heavy mats that may be available at a yoga practice location, while also providing the unique benefits of the portable composite yoga mats. Attachment of composite yoga mats to the floor or other mats can provide, e.g., additional cushioning, a personal yoga practice surface, a more stable surface, and moisture absorbency. Yoga mats of the invention can be attached to the floor by connectors such as, e.g., clips, loop and hook connectors, hooks, snaps, and/or the like. Yoga mats of the invention can be attached to other mats using connectors, such as, e.g., zippers, hook and loop (Velcro®) connectors, snaps, laces, straps, buckles, pins, clips, buttons, and/or the like, as described for connection of two or more yoga mats. In a preferred embodiment, a yoga mat is be attached to other mats by providing a pocket of fabric along the periphery of the mat so that it can be fitted over one or more end, or corner, of the other mat in a fashion similar to putting a fitted sheet on a mattress.

Connectors can be used to stabilize constrictable loops at a desired size. Under high forces or loads, constrictable loops can constrict to apply excessive pressures on practitioners. This can be controlled by mounting suitable connectors, e.g., at points where the body of the yoga mat slides through a loop hole. For example, hook and loop connectors can be stitched with the loop material at the internal circumference of the loop hole and with the hook material extending along the second side of the fabric sheet, thereby allowing selection of fixing points where the mat body contacts the loop. Other connectors to stabilize constrictable loops include, e.g., laces, hooks, zippers, snaps, buttons, and the like.

Use of Yoga Mats

Yoga mats can provide combinations of characteristics useful and specialized to aid in the practice of yoga. Yoga mats of the invention are well adapted to functionally support practitioners in the learning and practice of yoga positions and meditation. Yoga mats of the invention can provide, e.g., combinations of cushioning, orientation, indicia, stability, limb support, insulation, removal of sweat, and traction, uniquely adapted to aiding the practice of yoga.

In one embodiment, yoga mats of the invention can be used to stretch a practitioner's muscles and go through joint range of motion before or after a yoga session. For example, the practitioner can flex the knee joint and stretch the quadriceps by inserting a foot through a loop hole to the ankle, then grasping and pulling the other end of the mat with her hands from behind her back. The same yoga mat can then, e.g., be used to wipe sweat from the practitioner, be attached to a larger mat to provide additional practice area, and/or provide other yoga related functions described herein.

In an aspect of the invention, yoga mats with loop holes can be used to improve flexibility while learning certain positions. For example, while progressing in the practice of positions, such as utthita hasta padangustasana, the standing hand-big-toe-posture, a practitioner can support the raised leg in a loop hole while grasping the body of the mat with the raised arm. As the practitioner increases in flexibility, the practitioner can grasp the mat ever closer to the loop until the position can be practiced without aid of the yoga mat. Optionally, yoga mats with loops can be used to support elevated appendages until muscle strength is acquired allowing practice of certain positions without additional support. For example, in the uttana padasana position both the legs and arms are extended and lifted up at an angle with the practitioner on her back. While learning the uttana padasana, and acquiring the necessary strength, the practitioner can provide support from her hands to feet inserted in loop holes.

Yoga mats of the invention can optionally be used to provide a stable surface for the practice of yoga positions and movements (in addition to other functions described herein). Frictional material on one or both sides can prevent slippage of the mat on the floor and/or slippage of the practitioner on the mat. The moisture absorbency of yoga mats of the invention can further reduce slippage of mats and practitioners by preventing accumulation of moisture between the frictional material and the practitioner or floor. This characteristic can be particularly beneficial in the practice of bikram yoga where the room temperature is elevated.

The moisture absorbent aspect of yoga mats of the present invention can be highly desirable in the practice of yoga. As mentioned previously, removal of moisture can prevent slippage. In addition, removal of excess moisture can provide a more comfortable, less “clammy” contact with the skin of the practitioner. In one aspect, the yoga mats of the invention can be used as a towel to wipe sweat from the practitioner and to clean up the practice area after exercises are completed.

Indicia can be imprinted onto the top side of the fabric sheet to provide unique functional information to aid the practitioner in the practice of yoga. For example, the top side can be imprinted with silhouettes of the astanga yoga primary series of positions to provide the practitioner with sequence and positioning cues. In another example, lines and/or geometric patterns can be imprinted onto the top side to provide references and alignment cues to the practitioner, e.g., to indicate the proper back alignment, limit of trunk rotation, or proper positions for foot placement in particular positions or as directed by the yoga instructor.

EXAMPLES

The following examples are offered to illustrate, but not to limit the claimed invention.

Example 1

Yoga Mat with Frictional Material on Both Sides

A yoga mat can be fabricated with frictional material disposed on both sides of the moisture absorbent fabric sheet to provide stability and comfort. Imprinted frictional material 17 is arrayed on top (first) side 14 in a pattern of dots to provide a frictional surface and grippable texture to the top side, as shown in FIG. 1A. Moisture absorbent fabric 15, exposed between and around the frictional material dots, absorbs moisture away from the dots and provides a surface that “breathes” for the comfort of the practitioner. The top side frictional material is foamy, resilient, and hydrophilic. Bottom (second) side 16 is substantially covered with an impermeable layer of frictional material having a grid pattern of linear grooves, as shown in FIG. 1B. The bottom side frictional material layer can prevent transfer of moisture between the practitioner and floor while providing a tough non-slip surface.

FIG. 4 shows a schematic diagram of a cross section taken through the mat of FIG. 1. The yoga mat is constructed as a composite of moisture absorbent fabric sheet material 40 with tough impermeable closed matrix frictional material 41 embedded into the bottom side of the fabric sheet and a softer hydrophilic closed cell foam frictional material 42 embedded in a dot pattern on the top side of the fabric sheet.

It is understood that the examples and embodiments described herein are for illustrative purposes only and that various modifications or changes in light thereof will be suggested to persons skilled in the art and are to be included within the spirit and purview of this application and scope of the appended claims.

While the foregoing invention has been described in some detail for purposes of clarity and understanding, it will be clear to one skilled in the art from a reading of this disclosure that various changes in form and detail can be made without departing from the true scope of the invention. For example, many of the features and aspects of the yoga mats described above can be used in various combinations.

All publications, patents, patent applications, and/or other documents cited in this application are incorporated by reference in their entirety for all purposes to the same extent as if each individual publication, patent, patent application, and/or other document were individually indicated to be incorporated by reference for all purposes.