Yoga comes from the Sanskrit word that means “to unite.” The purpose of yoga is to unify the body, mind, and spirit while practicing it helps to strengthen and elongate the muscles. Yoga also helps relieves stress and improves one’s health and well-being. However, there is a problem – the conventional yoga mats.
So, What’s in a Yoga Mat?
The conventional mats we know of are made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Also, there are elements called plasticizers which include cadmium, lead, phthalates or dioxins, which are used for making the mats sticky and pliable but make the toxicity high. Continuous exposure to these phthalates has been linked to negative reproductive health effects in people. These phthalates have effects on the placenta and fetus and are therefore hazardous to pregnant women. Also, if you are facing the dog position downwards, you do not want to think of the phthalates or any other toxic substances emitted from your yoga mat and absorbed by your skin.
Another problem with conventional yoga mats is off-gassing. The chemicals used to make these mats evaporate slowly from it and cause problems like irritation, allergies or asthmatic symptoms.
One more thing is that these kind of mats are non-recyclable and non-biodegradable. It has been proven that PVC and plasticizers chemicals leach into the soil and find their way to the groundwater system.
Today, due to the effects of the substances used for making conventional yoga mats, manufacturers have started making non toxic yoga mat which is environmentally friendly. These non toxic yoga mat which is mainly natural rubber yoga mat because they are made from natural rubber or jute, cotton or hemp are biodegradable. These materials are renewable, natural and sustainable. Also available is TPE (Thermo Plastic Elastomer) Material which is another alternative to PVC. It is a biodegradable, non-toxic and plasticizer-free material which has been designed to decompose in a landfill.
What You Should Look Out for on a Non Toxic Yoga Mat
Under this category of non toxic yoga is the eco-friendly yoga mats have certain factors that need to be considered. Below, we will look at each of them.
- Performance: “Yoga mat eco” could be hard or soft, sticky or slippery, smooth or rough of which could affect your practice. It is preferable for a mat to have medium thickness and hardness, with slight stickiness and roughness.
- Durability: Durability is a very important factor. You should know that due to the fact that they are not made from industrial plastics but natural material. It should be noted that they may not last as long as mats made from PVC.
- Cost: Eco-friendly mats are more expensive than the usual conventional mats. However, they are worth the money, for the sake of the environment and human health (this is not really a great idea for breathing fumes from plastic materials which might be off-gassing).
- Smell: A lot of “yoga mat eco” smell which is usually from the natural rubber they are made from. This smell might also get intense and eventually affect practice.