What is the most critical feature of a yoga mat? It comes that a yoga mat needs to keep you stable in your poses; be storable and portable, yet comfy and cushy. These aspects of your mat’s personality are all affected by how the mat is made, how thick it is, what it’s made of and its surface. Besides, you may want an environmentally friendly yoga mat with all the necessary factors.
Finding a yoga mat isn’t hard. Nearly every grocery store, retail store, and local market sells them. But finding one that doesn’t trash the planet takes a little more effort. With the accessibility and variety of yoga mats, it’s important to choose a product that is not going to harm your health or that of the environment. Here are the basics of why you should buy an environmentally friendly yoga mat and a few brands I recommend.
Do you know almost 80% of yoga mats are made from plastic? Common yoga mats are made with PVC, cheap and efficient material for manufacturers. So what is PVC? You’ve probably heard of PVC pipes, and the PVC used in yoga mats is common. PVC stands for polyvinyl chloride, and it’s made from petroleum. The type of PVC used in yoga mats is made soft and pliable by the use of phthalates. Phthalates are chemicals that give plastic flexibility and resilience, but they have great health and environmental influence. They are well-known to be hormone disruptors and are known to produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and wildlife. In addition, it can’t be recycled, and the material has been found to leak chlorine, carcinogens and other toxic chemicals into the soil and air over time within landfill or incineration disposals.
The good news for yoga practitioners is that there are many great natural alternatives available today. Here are a few of my favorites:
Gaiam Cork Yoga Mat
Gaiam cork yoga mat is one more solid alternative for a stylish and eco friendly yoga mat. There are lots of big fans of cork because it’s naturally antimicrobial, as well as it looks excellent, also provides excellent natural hold in both hot and non-heated environments. It can be said that cork tends to be the perfect density.
What I like is that it feels a little stronger than some of their other Gaiam options and also includes a lifetime warranty, which is uncommon for some cork yoga exercise mats. A number of people reported their yoga exercise mats splitting and flaking, so you may require to benefit from this warranty if that happens.
The Gaiam cork yoga mat is made of sustainable, naturally cushioned material. With cork on one side and eco-friendly TPE on the other side. Cork is antimicrobial in a way that can handle your sweat yet repel germs and odor.
Manduka Eko Mat
Manduka mats have earned a reputation as the go-to mat in the yoga world, and for a good reason. Not only are their mats durable and long-lasting, but their line of Eko Mats are natural yoga mats made from sustainably-sourced natural tree rubber(trees a renewable resource). The foaming agents used to create the Eko material are non-toxic. What this means is that no toxic chemicals have gone into the manufacturing process to soften the rubber. They offer a variety of thicknesses and designs, so there’s an environmentally friendly yoga mat for everyone.
Manduka takes it a step further by offering a zero-waste yoga mat recycling program called LiveOn. When you order a new mat, you can opt-in to the LiveOn program, which allows you to send back your old mat (from any brand) and they’ll send it to The Renewal Workshop to recycle your mat into materials used to improve communities everywhere.
Jade Yoga Harmony Yoga Mat
The Jade Yoga Harmony Yoga Mat is one of the most popular rubber mats on the market for hot yoga because of its traction and excellent stability, so its grip on the floor increases with sweat and movement. The Jade Yoga Harmony Mat is made from 100% natural rubber tapped from rubber trees, a renewable resource that contains no PVC, EVA, or other synthetic rubber. It absorbs a lot of moisture, so that helps preserve traction in sweaty situations. And to sweeten the deal, Jade plants a tree for every mat sold! (Great minds think alike.) So far, they’ve planted over one million trees!
Prolana Cotton and Wool Yoga Mat
The Prolana Yoga Mat is made from virgin wool and cotton and is one of just three yoga mats to earn top marks in German safety tests. The bottom is made from 100 percent durable, certified organic cotton, and the upper is a layer of soft lamb’s wool. This makes the mat ideal for those who like a little more cushioning and warmth, and the wool has natural antimicrobial, dirt-repellent, and flame-retardant properties.
Sharklet Yoga Mat
The Sharklet Yoga Mat is made from Polyurethane and natural rubber; the top layer is Sharklet Textured Premium PU, which absorbs moisture to help you get a grip during sweaty practices, with non-toxic and PVC-free. And the bottom is a durable Rubber Base, the most slip-resistance material on the market. This material also provides a premium cushioning experience without damaging the environment.
With so many high-quality eco-friendly yoga mats on the market, there’s no need to buy a cheap plastic yoga mat at your local store. I can’t think of many things less conducive to a clear mind and a healthy body than breathing in toxic VOCs while you practice your asanas. Be thoughtful with your purchases, and it’s one way to make your yoga practice healthier.