While the practise of yoga is an age-old art of maintaining the mind and body, the invention of your modern-day yoga mat, let alone an eco-friendly yoga mat, is a relatively new concept. When postural yoga was introduced to the western world, the practice of this meditative mind and body exercise form has become more prevalent across the globe, and as a result, become more and more dynamic a practice.
Naturally of course, what began with being practised on soil and grass, has now paved way for the contemporary yoga mat as a means for yogis to be able to continue their practices in any terrain, travel around, and to comfortably perform all the poses with the right grip!
It seems absurd to associate the word yoga with ‘toxic’, yet the irony lies in the fact that while we consciously carry reusable water bottles to a mindful morning yoga practice, or perhaps minimise that post work out shower to prevent water wastage, the unsustainable and toxic effects of a typical PVC yoga mat is a problem that seems to evade us. But, finding that eco-friendly yoga mat alternative for your wellness routine, will not only aid in a healthier mind and body, but a healthier, and happier environment too!
The Problems With Plastic Yoga Mats
The majority of readily available yoga mats are in fact made up of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which has been discovered by experts to be a highly toxic plastic; the major reason why the alternative of a non toxic yoga mat has become highly in demand. PVC yoga mats are not only problematic due to the plastic pollution that piles up in the landfills when we throw them away as they gradually wear out, but in fact, there are multiple breathable gases emitted from the material that can be hazardous to our health.
Chemicals such as VOCs (volatile oil compounds) and PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), that are also found in various other household items such as cleaning products, furnishings, and the likes, pose tangible troubles to both our mind and body; ironically the two counterparts that are focused on improving while practicing yoga! To list a few of the health problems that could arise from your typical PVC yoga mat are, allergic reactions, headaches, nausea, kidney and liver damage, negative neurological impacts, potentially fertility issues, and also can lead to cancer.
Well, if that couldn’t scare us enough to switch to an eco friendly yoga mat, what if we told you that a handful of these chemicals emitted are also greenhouses gases? While posing negative health threats to ourselves, the growing use of these PVC yoga mats as yoga becomes more and more popular, also sadly contributes to the wider problem of climate change.
Each kilogram of PVC requires the use of 680 liters of water during its production, a whopping 17kg of predominantly petrochemicals to manufacture, and 11.6 kg of air that turns to greenhouse gases and the likes! A typical PVC mat weighs roughly 1.36 kg, so you can only imagine the environmental imprint that exists in purely the production process! And of course, getting it packaged and shipped from here and there, only adds to these numbers; switching to an eco friendly yoga mat has never felt more tempting, right?
The Best Materials For a Sustainable Yoga Mat
As the realisation of the hazards of PVC mats is becoming a major topic of conversation in regard to wellness and sustainability, the concept of a sustainable yoga mat, has turned into a readily accessible reality!
The risks of being subjected to the hazardous toxins such as PFRs, ADA, phthalates and parabens, that are prevalent in PVC, along with the enormous amounts of energy require to produce it, a non-toxic yoga mat is the way to go. Despite the slightly higher costs, and the additional care required in maintaining yoga mats made with eco-friendly materials or in turn, seeking out a recycled yoga mat; with two lesser worries on your mind, your health, and the planet, who wouldn’t want to practice those postures, stylishly and sustainably? Here are a few eco friendly materials that you can be sure to trust!
As opposed to your typical synthetic rubber that poses threat to the environment as it is not biodegradable, natural rubber, also known as latex, is the ideal alternative for an eco friendly yoga mat. Made from the sap of rubber trees first discovered in South America and later South Asia, a natural rubber yoga mat is not only biodegradable, but also provides much better grip despite sweat due to its waterproof qualities. It is durable, skin-friendly, devoid of toxic chemicals and of course made purely from sustainable sources.
Made from the bark of particular trees, Cork is a natural and eco friendly material that can substitute your PVC mat for a sustainable yoga mat! A key benefit of using cork is its antimicrobial properties that prevent mould and odours to sit on the surface of your mat while practicing. Additionally, this allows it to be easy to clean and care for with a simple wipe every now and then. Cork mats are allow for good grip, are durable, recyclable, and also a renewable resource which ensure zero damage to the trees during harvesting.
Organic cotton that is grown sustainable has a significantly lower impact on the environment due to its lower water consumption than your regular cotton and relies on rainfall. In turn, the production process is free of any chemical fertilisers and pesticide! The benefits of using organic cotton not only provides you with good grip and sweat absorbance, but also provides income to smaller producers and will undoubtedly last you a lifetime!
Jute is a natural plant fibre that is rain-fed and has far less need for the use of pesticides and fertilisers. It also contains natural antimicrobial properties and is a natural insulator, making it comfortable for even the sweatiest of sessions! Its inherent tensile strength allows for a great base fiber for a sustainable yoga mat! Paired up with some natural rubber creates the perfect combination and makes it 100% biodegradable.
Top 5 Eco Friendly Yoga Mat Brands
Gurus Roots Cork Yoga Mat
Gurus mats are produced sustainably with naturally sourced rubber and cork, which a fraction of, is tapped on the company creators local farms in Kerala, India. The rubber used is 100% organic and free of toxins, and the combination of cork and rubber together makes for various useful benefits and ensures a versatile experience. While cork has naturally antimicrobial properties which makes it easy to care for an clean and does not absorb heat, so you can practice out in the sun free of hassle! Gurus has two different sustainable yoga mats that it offers, one being the Natural Cork Mat, and the other Roots Yoga Mat which has a base layer of natural rubber.
Jade Yoga Harmony Mat
While being the first US brand to produce yoga mats that are sustainably sourced and made with natural rubber, a renewable resource, it is also devoid of PVC, EVA and the use of synthetic rubber. Additionally, JadeYoga mats are made in compliance with US environmental, labor and consumer protection laws, making it all the more ethical a purchase! The mat has proven to have great grip, as well as comfort in practicing all your favorite poses! Better yet, for each mat that is sold, the company plants a tree, having planted a applauding two million trees till date!
Brentwood Home Organic Non-Slip Yoga Mat
The Brentwood Home Organic Non-Slip Yoga Mat is an FSC certified natural latex yoga mat and one of the world’s only GOTS organic cotton certified yoga mats that is available! It has the perfect balance of thickness and provides that extra cushioning than cotton does alone. Additionally it is 100% non-toxic, vegan and biodegradable, as well as the company producing these. Mats uses 100% renewable energy at its factory!
Manduka eKO Superlite Travel Mat
The eKo yoga mats are made from natural rubber that is harvested sustainably, devoid of toxic phthalates and 99% latex-free. Additionally Manduka has a LiveOn program through which it is working on zero waste, and if you stay in the US you can get your old mats sent back to The Renewal Workshop free of cost, to be recycled into various things, such as home insulation! The eKo Superlite travel mat, like its namesake is super thin, and lightweight, yet has great grip to practice on!
Urbivore Natural Cork Yoga Mat
The Urbivore natural cork yoga mat is made up of a layer of natural cork, along with a backing of natural rubber, making it 100% biodegradable and sustainable. The harvesting process does not harm the oak trees at all as they continue to live over 200 years, and in turn, once the bark is stripped, a higher extent of CO2 can be absorbed that ultimately can help fight climate change. This eco friendly yoga mat requires low maintenance and keeps away bad odours!
Abhinehkrafts Organic Cotton Yoga Mat
Handwoven by Indian artisans and made from 100% organic cotton that is sustainably sourced, Abhinehkrafts eco friendly yoga mat is extremely lightweight, and machine-washable. In size it is bigger than your usual yoga mat making yoga sessions even more comfortable. Additionally, the mat also comes with a carrying bag and wrapping strap that are also made with organic cotton, so you can carry it around comfortably and consciously!
As the concept of an eco friendly yoga mat has come shooting to the forefront in regard to environmental awareness, it has been allowing yogis to become more and more informed about the conscious choice they have to practice mindful wellness, as eco consciously as possible! With a multitude of options available today that offer high quality and sustainable yoga mats, settling for your average PVC mat is no more an obligation. Choosing materials made from renewable resources and that are free from any residues of toxic chemicals, helps us fight off both the health issues we may inevitably confront, as well as encouraging us to fight the cumulative crisis of climate change!