Yoga’s big-and it’s getting bigger. Some estimates show that there are more than 20 million people in North America who are practicing some type of yoga. Whether you are an experienced practitioner or trying your first class, there is a class out there for you.
What’s not to love about yoga-an hour or so of time spent focusing on you, your mind, body and breath. The benefits of our time on the mat can be incredible and can impact us profoundly off the mat as well.
The start up cost for a yoga class is minimal. Only three essentials are needed for your first class: comfortable clothing, a reusable water bottle and a yoga mat. Yoga studios often provide yoga mats, but I like to use my own-don’t want to stand and lie in someone’s sweaty leftovers.
Yoga mats can be found in many retail shops-from high end stores like lululemon to discount shops such as Marshalls. Mats come in an array of colors and at varying price points.
HOW TO CHOOSE A YOGA MAT
All us “om” guys and gals are on the lookout for a toxin free, durable and fashionable mat. Many mats are made from PVC (Poly-Vinyl Chloride), a cheap, environmentally toxic form of plastic. PVC can’t be recycled so it sits in landfills for years, releasing toxins into the land and groundwater as it tries to decompose. Many PVC yoga mats are made with additives such as lead, cadmium, and a class of chemicals called of phthalates, which can cause all sorts of health problems. Not exactly what I want to be breathing in as I relax in child’s pose.
My yoga mat has had it-after many years of use it is time to say goodbye (or stick it in a closet as a back-up mat). The wear and tear has taken its toll and the mat could very well be made from PVC. How can I go on practicing in good conscience on a PVC mat?
Eco-friendly materials for a new mat:
- RUBBER-Rubber mats are a good alternative. Rubber is a renewable resource-it comes from a rubber tree. Careful if you have a latex allergy – there could be trace amounts of latex in the mat. Natural rubber does have a strong scent that will go away over time. It is also biodegradable and non-toxic.
- FAIR TRADE ORGANIC HEMP-Try an organic hemp yoga mat, which is processed without any chemicals. These mats don’t have a sticky backing so it will slide on a hard surface without a non slide backing.
- ORGANIC COTTON YOGA MAT-Futon style yoga mat made from chemical free cotton.
- TPE (Thermal Plastic Elastomer)-Companies using this material tout it as recyclable, non-toxic and biodegradable. TPE is PVC, latex and natural rubber free-so no potential allergens. It can also be melted down easily-unlike PVC.
- Jade Harmony Yoga Mat– These mats are made from rubber. Jade plants a tree for each yoga mat they sell. They also have their own yoga mat recycling program.
- Giam Eco-Reversible Yoga Mat-This mat is made from non-toxic TPE, which contains no PVC or latex.
- Manduka PROlite Travel Yoga Mat– These mats are manufactured through a process that ensures no toxic emissions are released into the atmosphere. They are not too sticky, allowing for easy flow through your vinyasa. The rubber smell is strong- I just bought one for my husband and needed to air it out for a day or so.
- Kulae-I love these mats. They are 100% biodegradable, 100% recyclable, and contain NO PVC, NO latex, NO cadmium, NO lead and NO rubber (that means NO allergies).
- Align Ultra Mat by lululemon athletica– Align mat is also made from TPE and contains no latex, PVC or rubber. The mat is laminated with heat and pressure to avoid use of toxic adhesives.
- Rawganique.com-Organic hemp yoga mats are PVC-free with no heavy metals or harsh chemicals used in production. You will need a backing underneath to prevent slipping.
- YogaAccessories (TM) Organic Cotton Yoga Mat-Made from chemical free cotton.
More good news…..you can recycle your old mat
There is a great program in place for recycling your old mat Check out Recycle Your Mat.
BOTTOM LINE: An eco-friendly yoga mat may cost you more upfront-but there is no question that the benefits outweigh the price.
Tell me all about your mat……
If you liked this post please share with others. Thanks so much! Lori
Disclosure: If you buy a mat through one of the Amazon links above it will put a few pennies in my pocket-no pressure!
Life Cycle: Think Yoga is Healthy? Not on a PVC Mat
Rethinking Yoga Mats