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Through the pandemic, spending loads of time mendacity and respiration on our yoga mats led us to surprise what precisely we’re exposing ourselves to. We’re speculated to be bettering our well being with the therapeutic follow of yoga, however we would really be inhaling and absorbing dangerous chemical compounds via our pores and skin. The truth is, there are a couple of causes to suspect that some yoga mats might be lower than therapeutic.
Has your yoga mat ever given off a chemical odor when it arrived, or after it was within the solar for too lengthy? That’s toxic off-gassing from PVC-polyvinyl chloride, which is used within the majority of yoga mats. PVC is a petroleum-based materials that makes your mat spongy, grippy, and straightforward to scrub. What yoga manufacturers don’t let you know is that PVC can also be one of many most toxic types of plastic to human well being and the atmosphere.
PVC is dangerous all through its total life cycle, from manufacturing, to make use of, to finish of life. To make the mats gentle and versatile, producers add plasticizers like phthalates. Phthalates are well-known hormone disruptors and have been linked to start defects, bronchial asthma, neurodevelopmental points in newborns, fertility issues, weight problems, and most cancers. Your physique can absorb toxins from your PVC yoga mat through inhalation and skin contact. You’ll be able to’t recycle PVC both, and the fabric can contaminate the air and soil when it results in a landfill or incinerator.
So the ethical of the story is: in the event you follow yoga to maintain your self wholesome, steer away from PVC as a lot as doable. So what different choices do we’ve? Traditionally, yoga mats have been produced from natural components present in nature. Here’s what to search for when selecting a sustainable yoga mat:
Protected, Non-Poisonous Supplies
When an organization tells you that their merchandise are free from XX toxins (suppose BPA, phthalate, heavy metals, and so forth), at all times ask what they use as an alternative. Many yoga mats labeled as eco-friendly could also be deceptive, particularly these “non-toxic PVC” mats.
For instance, some yoga mats are produced from PER, or “polymer environmental resin,” a cloth that the producer claims is phthalate-free, biodegradable, and produced in an “environmental-friendly” method. Nonetheless, PER is still PVC, simply changing phthalates with different plasticizers. Whereas the absence of phthalates does appear to make PER much less poisonous, we don’t know in regards to the security of the opposite plasticizers used, and the essential chemical (vinyl chloride) used to make PVC is still a carcinogen. Within the absence of third-party certification, we can’t belief producer or model claims.
One other “PVC-free” materials is TPE (thermoplastic elastomers), a rubber-like materials that can be recycled. It’s a nebulous time period that would confer with a range of blended synthetic materials, whose compositions are commerce secrets and techniques. So we don’t know if any of them is protected, a lot much less whether or not the sort utilized in a particular yoga mat is.
What about yoga mats produced from pure supplies? Probably the most generally used is pure rubber. Natural rubber is tapped from rubber bushes, the place farmers reduce into the bark to gather the fluid. Then producers combine the fluid with vulcanizing brokers (chemical components) to make rubber. Though pure rubber is just not chemical-free, it’s higher than artificial rubber, a catch-all time period that probably comes with all the issues outlined above.
One in every of our editors suffers from eczema and is delicate to quite a few chemical compounds generally utilized in yoga mats. Whereas not everybody could endure acute reactions, it’s finest to remain throughout the realm of pure supplies like natural, naturally dyed cotton, grass, or conventional jute fiber.
Does the yoga model have a take-back or recycling system on your previous mat if you’re achieved with it? That is essential as a result of there is no such thing as a accountable place to donate or recycle a used yoga mat that we’re conscious of, so it’s finest if the corporate has a plan for tips on how to cope with their previous mats.
After all, essentially the most sustainable yoga mat wouldn’t make my follow satisfying if it doesn’t have sufficient assist or slips round simply. When you have delicate knees and wrists, a very good yoga mat ought to present the correct amount of cushion. A bonus issue can be light-weight and foldability in an effort to sustain along with your follow on the go!
Our editors examined some acclaimed sustainable yoga mats — right here is our expertise:
Weight: 3.4 lbs
What we love: Oko dwelling dyes its natural cotton, handcrafted mats utilizing medicinal Ayurvedic natural blends which are each medicinal and beautiful. The design of every mat consists of raised ridges woven into the sample at each ends, offering the right catch on your toes and fingers and stopping you from slipping. The mats are each antimicrobial and antibacterial, and are freed from chemical compounds, heavy metals, PVC, BPA, and phthalates.
Our evaluate: The mat arrived in biodegradable packaging that was simple to recycle, and included a carrying case for studio lessons. Upon opening, the mat has a novel natural scent that smells contemporary and earthy. The cotton is gentle and malleable, and the corners don’t roll up like many plastic-based mats are likely to after having been saved for a couple of days. Our tester positively felt the skin-soothing properties of the infused herbs as she practiced, and delighted of their aroma when utilizing the mat indoors. That is her new go-to mat for on a regular basis use and journey.
Be careful for: As a result of nature of the dyes and their lack of chemical components for retention, the colours in your Oko Dwelling mat could fade out if left within the solar or slowly over time with common washing. Our tester recommends washing solely when needed utilizing the accompanying cleaning soap nut bag, and rolling up after every use to forestall the pure rubber from sticking to itself or one other floor.
Weight: ~5 lbs
Thickness: 5 mm
What we love: JadeYoga is the primary model within the US that makes yoga mats with pure rubber. When harvested sustainably, pure rubber is a renewable materials that may decompose on the finish of life. Concord is considered one of Jade Yoga’s hottest mats produced from pure rubber, with many customers raving about its grip and luxury.
Our evaluate: Our tester had one for 5 years and had been very pleased with the mat earlier than she (sadly) misplaced it. She rated it because the grippiest mat she ever used: her toes and fingers by no means slipped. Additionally it is tremendous supportive and soft, with a agency bounce. The mat doesn’t shed little bits both, even after her cat used it as a scratchpad.
Be careful for: The mat may be very heavy, so it might not be finest fitted to journey. Additionally, you will wish to keep away from leaving it beneath direct daylight for prolonged intervals of time as a result of it would biodegrade! Jade claims that their yoga mat incorporates no heavy metals, ozone-depleting substances, PVC, TPE, phthalates, formaldehyde, or glues. Nonetheless, some third-party testing exhibits that the mat may need undisclosed components. A german organization found nitrosamines from Jade Concord yoga mat, a carcinogenic chemical utilized in rubber manufacturing. This solidifies our unique level that it’s tough to know what’s used to switch essentially the most infamous toxins.
Weight: 2.2 lbs
Thickness: 1.5 mm
What we love: Manduka has been advisable by lots of our yogi buddies because the go-to sustainable yoga mat model. The eKo line of yoga mats is produced from sustainably harvested pure rubber and processed with out poisonous phthalates (a foaming agent to melt the rubber). The eKo superlite journey mat is 99% latex-free and made with no PVC, poisonous plasticizers, or dangerous dyes. As well as, Manduka can also be engaged on zero waste via its LiveOn program. If you happen to reside within the US, Manduka will take again your previous mats from any model (with free delivery), and ship them to The Renewal Workshop for recycling into house insulation, working tracks, and so forth.
Our evaluate: One in every of our testers has an eKo Superlite that traveled in her carry-on for 14 months and remains to be together with her right now! It is extremely skinny, foldable, and light-weight. The mat additionally has a terrific grip and lasts a very long time even with excessive use and altering temperatures and terrain. Nonetheless, as a result of it’s so skinny, it isn’t supportive or soft in any respect. It would harm to do sure strikes the place you’re in your again or knees, like again rolls or pigeon prep. Subsequently, it’s extra appropriate for a carpeted flooring or the outside. Nonetheless, it’s price it if you’re touring to maintain up along with your exercise regime.
Thickness: 4 mm
What we love: This mat is produced from a skinny layer of pure cork on high of a pure rubber backing—each are biodegradable and renewable supplies. Cork is produced from the bark of cork oak bushes, largely grown in Portugal. When managed sustainably (each eight to 9 years), the harvesting received’t hurt the oak bushes, they usually can reside as much as greater than 200 years! The truth is, a cork oak tree stripped of its bark can absorb more CO2 within the regeneration course of, so it really helps fight local weather change. Cork is of course antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal, which suggests it requires minimal upkeep and received’t give off a foul odor.
Our evaluate: Our tester has used this mat for 3 years in out of doors yoga and HIIT exercises, plus scorching yoga lessons. She likes its assist and luxury, and the markings on the mat she obtained assist her with alignment and posture. The cork remains to be fairly grippy when moist, so that you don’t need to overlay an artificial yoga towel on it for warm yoga, an enormous bonus!
Be careful for: It tends to carry the curve from being rolled up, and since you’ll be able to solely use one facet, you’ll be able to’t flip it over if it will get soiled. After three years, it has a delicate, everlasting staining from use.
Weight: 2 lb
Thickness: 6 mm
What we love: Pharamond Life has acquired loads of social media consideration just lately, to the purpose that this Professional Yoga mat is nearly bought out. It’s a tremendous light-weight (2 lb) but closely cushioned mat, reaching the right steadiness between consolation and portability. Pharamond claims that this mat is produced from eco-friendly TPE. It’s PVC- free, recyclable, and biodegradable.
Be careful for: TPE is a broad time period that encompasses a variety of supplies, lots of which haven’t been confirmed protected. We couldn’t discover particular data on Pharamond’s web site about what precisely is of their mat or any certifications about its biodegradability/recyclability, so we advocate you be cautious with it till extra data is accessible.
Our evaluate: A contributor of ours has had this yoga mat for some time now, and has likes and dislikes about it. This yoga mat has a textured non-slip floor and an anti-skid underlayer, making it very grippy. The alignment system additionally helps to appropriate your poses. However she discovered that the mat is just not as sturdy as marketed. The mat had a scratch on the floor inside a month of getting it. It additionally bends out of practice simply and takes a couple of minutes to unroll utterly flat when laid out.
Weight: ~5 lbs
What we love: Suga recycles wetsuits into yoga mats, therefore the identify combining “surf” and “yoga”. To date, Suga has diverted 12,500 wetsuits from the landfill. Now solely are the mats produced from recycled materials, however they’re additionally recyclable. If you end up achieved along with your previous mat, you’ll be able to ship it again to Suga to make new ones.
Our evaluate: Our tester was not tremendous impressed. It isn’t unhealthy, but additionally not essentially the most superb mat she had. The nice factor is that the mat may be very supportive and has obtained the correct amount of cushiness and firmness. It additionally appears to be fairly sturdy thus far. The gender-neutral design can also be a plus. Nonetheless, she is dissatisfied with the grip. Additionally, the common Suga mat is fairly heavy, so it’s higher for house follow.
Be careful for: What worries us is that Ecology Heart, a non-profit lab examined the chemical composition of a spread of yoga mats, and detected phthalates in it, which isn’t stunning given it’s produced from recycled supplies.
Weight: ~2.8 lb
Thickness: 3-4 mm
What we love: This pretty mat is produced from Dharba, a tropical grass thought-about sacred in Vedic scriptures and which is presupposed to have purifying properties. It’s handwoven by artisans in India with the unique yoga mat in thoughts.
Our evaluate: As our tester unrolled the mat, the calming, grassy odor plunged her proper into zen mode, making it the final word meditation mat. She additionally did a major quantity of yoga on it — it doesn’t slip in any respect and offers respectable assist. It’s not as soft and bouncy as a standard PVC mat although, so you probably have delicate backbone, knee, or wrists, she suggests utilizing it on a carpeted flooring or including further padding.
Be careful for: The grass fiber is extra delicate than plastic, so we wouldn’t advocate doing high-impact HIIT exercises on this mat. It’s best fitted to restorative practices like yin yoga.
Weight: 1.7 lb
What we love: This cotton yoga mat is a testomony to the unique mats utilized by yogis earlier than the invention and mass manufacturing of artificial supplies. It’s produced from 100% natural cotton and is handwoven by artisans in India, backed with pure rubber.
Our evaluate: Our tester particularly likes its earthy odor and exquisite texture. It’s longer and wider than regular mats, which makes follow extra snug. She additionally loves the truth that it’s tremendous light-weight, foldable, and machine-washable. The mat comes with a cotton strap and natural cotton carrying bag, which makes it an ideal journey companion!
Be careful for: The one draw back is that it may well get slippery on exhausting surfaces, so it’s extra appropriate for carpeted flooring or a grassy or sandy space. In case you are working towards scorching yoga, or postures that require loads of grips, you would possibly wish to take into account getting a model with a rubber coating within the again for anti-skid functions.