Toxic-Free Yoga Mats Your Health Will Thank You For

I capped my eight-day adventure in Cambodia many years ago with Ashtanga yoga that left me with beautiful, meaningful sores here and there. On the plane back home, I tossed and turned asking myself why it took me so long to dive into yoga when I had been reading about it years before my trip. Was it because I doubted myself too much or did indolence simply take over me? However, they say everything happens for a reason. I could have developed a lesser appreciation for the practice had I not done my first class with an almost flinty Indian ashtangi who told me that if I did not push myself, I would never learn. I could remember him towering over me, talking to me in a firm voice, and guiding me through salamba sarvangasana (shoulder stand).  This memory was sparked by my recent search for a quality yoga mat.  I can’t help but think about the first time I fell in love with yoga and how it challenged me in so many ways. Halfway through my first class, I was so sure I’d collapse sometime within the 90-minute practice. I was (obviously) out of shape albeit all the walking I did in the 21 temples I visited during my trip.

P.S. I made it through the challenging 90-minutes… smiling.

Is Your Yoga Mat Harming You?

The first thing I did when I reached home from that enlightening trip was to begin my search for the “perfect” yoga mat. I envisioned mine to be a shade of green, and that’s exactly what I got. Having very few options, and nothing more than a modicum of understanding of what a quality yoga mat should be, left me picking the first one I liked when I went to a sports store. The generic yoga PVC mat I bought served me for the first few years of my consistently inconsistent yoga practice.  I then felt the need to move on to a much better mat. By better, I mean something that would not emit a strong toxic smell every time I would unroll it. And yes, ‘a shade of something’ — I know better now — is not the best way to go to choose a yoga mat.

Looking for a quality yoga mat can be daunting. A quality yoga mat could also be expensive, that is why it is important for us to understand why, despite the challenges, we always need to choose quality over other factors. Yoga practitioners can benefit from high-quality yoga mats as they have an impact on our health, as well as the environment. While PVC yoga mats are cheaper and can last for a long time, they are non-biodegradable and are made from toxic materials such as lead, phthalates and cadmium. Our friends from Consumers Advocate got in touch with Cure for Mondays and gave us this valuable information: “The plastic mats that used to be popular are less favorable today because they are not bio-degradable. These plastic mats available today, at least the less expensive ones, are made with PVC. PVC mats can last longer but they come with a cost— they’re made with toxic materials.”

I’m not very happy with the thought of my body absorbing all the toxins and I’m sure neither are you. This served as one of my “I should have known better” moments.

What Exactly are Considered High-Quality Yoga Mats?

There are so many yoga mats available on the market now and making the right choice is done best following a good guide.  Different kinds of yoga mats can cater to your specific needs. There are rubber yoga mats available, natural and synthetic, that can be appealing to many yoga practitioners. Rubber mats offer a lot of grips and are very flexible. However, synthetic mats can wear down fairly easily and get damaged from heat.

Natural rubber is biodegradable and can be reused more readily. Synthetic rubbers, on the other hand, are not biodegradable and are harder to recycle. Therefore, if you decide to buy a rubber mat, make sure to buy the natural kind that is bio-degradable and better for your body.

Here’s a guide shared with us by Consumers Advocate so we can have a better understanding of our mats’ biodegradability.

quality yoga mats biodegradabiity
Integrate ‘ahimsa’ into your practice by choosing eco-friendly yoga mats.

The best mats that are offered today are eco-friendly brands. They are not only better for the environment, but better for your body. Eco-friendly mats are all made from biodegradable materials that are not toxic to your body and much better for the environment.

Eco-friendly mats come in cotton, jute, cork and many other materials that are comfortable and can meet your yoga style. Most of these mat types will provide you the right grip that’s helpful for your balance in all types of yoga practices. In fact, the sturdier eco-friendly mats are more helpful in yoga practices that require you to lunge, kneel or hold your position for any length of time. Most of the eco-friendly mats are thicker, which can help prevent you from getting injured during more strenuous types of yoga.

The great news is, now you can find a quality, non-toxic yoga mat that will suit your needs. Check this link to Consumer Advocates’ list of well-reviewed quality mats that won’t hurt your health nor Mother Earth.

toxic-free yoga mat
Here’s my current love, the Prana E.C.O.

E.C.O Prana is PVC free, chloride free, latex free, and uses non-toxic materials in its production. It is also recyclable.

Care to share the yoga mat you use? Help our readers choose the best-quality yoga mat by letting us know what you love about your mat!

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