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There are many types of yoga mats, and most of them vary according to the material that is used in putting them together. Materials used in yoga mats do not only determine the comfort that you will get when putting them in use, but they also play a part in your overall health.
Just as there are non toxic yoga mats there are also toxic ones, and if you are not thorough enough, you might make the wrong choice and buy the one that has a negative impact on your health.
It might seem frightening and discouraging to know that there are yoga mats available out there in the market place which can cause serious health conditions, this can even make you think twice about buying a mat and just sticking with what you have, like the grass, floor or even DIY improv mats.
In fact, the idea of you getting sick due to toxic yoga mats might’ve scared you enough that as a worst-case scenario you might just end up giving up on yoga itself.
However, you shouldn’t give in to your worries that easily, because just as mentioned, if there are toxic yoga mats then there are those which are chemical-free yoga mats which do not harm your health in any way and can even help in lessening the waste that toxic yoga mats create.
All there’s left to do is for you to be thorough and a hundred percent sure with what you are purchasing.
Dangers of toxic yoga mats
Most toxic yoga mats are those which are made of PVC or polyvinyl chloride. Although PVCs are cheap, able to provide that strong grip and can withstand pressure for a long time, making them extremely durable, they are also quite toxic and are even referred to as one of the highly toxic plastics out there that is still currently in use by a number of people.
In addition to this, PVC also contains another toxic chemical called phthalates or endocrine disruptors which provides that soft and flexible quality that PVC yoga mats have.
Exposure to these types of yoga mats can lead to serious health conditions, like damages to your reproductive, central, and respiratory systems, including your liver, cancer, allergic reactions, and even developmental issues.
Even more so on pregnant women who are indulging in yoga, can cause, infertility, lowered sperm count, ADHD to the baby, and low birth weight.
And that’s not just what happens when you go for PVC mats, they are also extremely hard to dispose of and get rid of. Meaning you can’t recycle or dispose of them without having a corresponding consequence.
Burning them, for example, would lead to a release of dioxin, a chemical that possesses carcinogen characteristics and also hydrogen chloride gas which is toxic to both animals, fish and even the actual air.
An added note is that they are non-biodegradable which means their toxic properties can be absorbed the soil itself and eventually the groundwater.
Types of non toxic yoga mats
Natural rubber yoga mats
Natural rubber yoga mats are made from a tree called ‘rubber tree’ hence the term rubber is used in naming the yoga mat. This tree commonly grows in areas around central and South America, and are easily harvested and fully sustainable. Natural rubber yoga mats are one of the earliest eco-friendly and non toxic yoga mats which have been introduced.
This type of yoga mat has properties that are both recyclable and biodegradable. Characteristics of this type of mat include a strong grip, slip-resistance, excellent cushioning, and also has that extra weight.
Although this type of mat is made from biodegradable materials, this means that this type of mat is not as durable as a PVC mats and over time will eventually break down, and it will also have that ‘natural rubber scent’ from the first few sessions of use.
A quick note, if you have an allergic reaction to latex then this mat may not be for you and you should go for other alternatives (which have also been provided below).
Thermoplastic elastomer yoga mats or TPE
Thermoplastic elastomer yoga mats or TPE is a mixture of both plastic and rubber elements. Although TPE is not a natural product, it is an alternative to PVC because it is non-toxic or has low toxic content.
Despite not being a natural product, TPE yoga mats are environmentally friendly and safe to use. Also, this is good for those who want to have a non-toxic or chemical-free yoga mat but also have budget concerns, as TPE yoga mats are cheap.
This type of yoga mat has good traction and anti-slip properties, anti-microbial, lightweight and it is also easy to clean due to its excellent water and moisture-absorbent properties. Just take note of its care and maintenance as it is more sensitive to sunlight.
Jute yoga mats
Just like with natural rubber yoga mats, jute yoga mats are produced from a plant. This plant is commonly found in South East Asia and is highly sustainable, fast-growing and extremely helpful in cleaning out the air.
Jute yoga mats are considered to be one of the most eco-friendly yoga mats out there due to the natural material that it is made from. Not to mention, due to its fully recyclable and biodegradable properties, it doesn’t cause any severe damage to our environment.
This yoga mat has a rough and textured feel and is good for different types of yoga due to its breathing quality, and it also provides enough durability, stickiness, and stability when in use.
Hemp and cotton yoga mats
Just as the name suggests cotton yoga mats are made from cotton fibers and also possess the cushioning and soft characteristics of cotton. Cotton yoga mats are good in absorbing sweat and are easy to clean, in fact, you can simply wash them after use.
They are also more hygienic than hemp yoga mats. However, this type of mat is more prone to breakage due to cotton fibers not being as durable as other yoga mat materials.
As mentioned, hemp yoga mats are more durable than cotton mats due to them being made of weaved hemp yarns that have tight and dense characteristics, not to mention, hemp is highly elastic and has a strong resistance to being stretched. Also, when it comes to absorbency hemp yoga mats are more effective.
Cork yoga mats
Cork yoga mats are made from cork oak tree barks. The final product produced from these trees are smooth yoga mats which are durable and have an impressive grip. If you are concerned about the welfare of the cork oak trees, you don’t need to worry, because the extraction of the cork does not harm the trees.
In fact, its barks are fully renewable during the duration of nine years, by then there would be another set of cork ready for extraction.
The best non toxic yoga mats
- Has a balanced feeling of both the floor and yoga mat cushion, which means better stability and good comfort
- There are no toxic chemicals, PVC or harmful dyes
- Has a closed-cell surface which means no bacteria can harbor
- Excellent grip and joint support
- Has a rippled surface that helps in stability and balance
- Has a slight weight
- Can have that rubber scent for the first few uses
Maduka eKO lite mats are eco-friendly and biodegradable yoga mats that have a strong grip surface that can help in preventing you from slipping and has been developed by yoga instructors for more than four years.
Manduka eKO lite mats are a natural yoga mat that is made from a harvested rubber tree. The foaming agents that were used in creating this yoga mat are non-toxic and chemical-free, which means no toxic chemical was added in order to soften the rubber used.
Also, it is latex-free and the manufacturers opted for a blend of polyester and natural cotton instead of a synthetic polyester.
This yoga mat has a weight of 4.0 lbs, a length of 68 inches and a width of 24 inches, and has a thickness of 3mm. It is considered as one of the most durable yoga mats in the marketplace.
As a bonus, this yoga mat helps the environment due to its materials being zero waste.
It is recommended that you use Manduka’s very own mat restore spray, which is a 50/50 mixture of both organic apple cider vinegar and water. Just simply wipe down the product onto the mat.
Some reminders in cleaning the mat are not putting it in a washing machine and not submerging or soaking it with water or with any type of soap, as this will speed up the breakdown of the product. Also, refrain from exposing the product to sunlight for too long, just simply dry it up before rolling it.
- Environmentally-friendly and made from 100% recycled materials
- It is free from toxic chemicals like latex, phthalate, dioxins, furans, dioxins and heavy metals
- It has excellent grip and non-slip resistance
- It is easy to clean, you can simply use a water and clean cloth, towel and terry cloth towel
- Before the first use, Barefoot yoga mat recommends that the mat be wiped to get rid of any factory residue
- Has a strong plastic smell when the package is opened
- Has a few length sizes, so not all are able to purchase this mat
The Barefoot Yoga Company has been established since 1996 and is the creator of this hybrid yoga mat. The thickness of this yoga mat is doubled compared to those of regular yoga mats, and while it can be used all types of yoga, its features can be maximized in restorative yoga.
This yoga mat is considered as one of Barefoot Yoga Company’s signature products because of its grip, price, and environment-friendly features. It is a combination of both their traditional and best eco-friendly yoga mats. Its mesh scrim or the skeleton of the mat itself is made with 100% recycled polyester and it does not contain any harmful chemicals like phthalates, latex, or heavy metals.
The wrap which covers the yoga mat is made from Polyolefin or eco-friendly POF, this is a poly resin and is completely biodegradable.
This yoga mat is free from toxic and harmful chemicals and has a good, long-lasting quality, and can be easily afforded by many.
- Easy to carry and travel
- Does not contain any products that can harm you
- Since its light-weight, you can expect a thin yoga mat. Which can be painful to your knees and elbows
- Vulnerable to dirty feet
- The rough texture can make your skin scrape
If you think Barefoot Yoga’s Hybrid Eco Yoga Mat is environment-friendly, well then you’d sure be impressed with the original barefoot yoga mat. This yoga mat is rated as one of the top environmentally friendly yoga mats out there.
Its composition is made only with natural rubber and jute fiber, and no harmful chemicals and toxins were mixed and used to this product. Its natural jute fibers on top are able to provide fiberglass strength and superb traction, while its rubber is able to keep you still by providing excellent grip on the floor.
This yoga mat is durable, has a natural feeling due to its surface and tactile.
- It is comfortable to use
- Has that floor and cushioning balance
- Excellent non-slip feature
- Does not contain PVC, EVA, and other ozone-depleting chemicals or substances
- Gentle to your skin and health
- Easy care
- Has that rubber smell in the first few uses
- Can be sensitive to sunlight
- Tends to catch lint, pet fur, and grit
Jade Harmony yoga mat is one of the most popular yoga mats that Jade Yoga has invented, and is made from the United States. This yoga mat is lightweight and has an excellent anti-slip surface. It has a thickness of 3/16 inch and a width of 24 inches and weighs approximately 5 pounds.
This yoga mat is created from open cell natural rubber which is responsible for keeping you still during your yoga session. It is also the most common type of yoga mat used in Vinyasa, Hot Bikram, Hatha, and Iyengar. Its surface is super absorbent which is helpful when you sweat a lot or are performing an intense yoga practice.
This yoga mat can easily be cleaned with mild soap and warm water, just make sure not to let it dry in the sunlight for too long.
- A Thermoplastic elastomer yoga mat
- Has a two-sided textured surface
- The material used is UV resistant
- Free from PVC, chlorine, latex and other toxic materials
- Good anti-slip feature
- Can get marks from folding
- Quite smaller than most mats
PrAna E.C.O. yoga mat is a Thermoplastic Elastomer or TPE yoga mat from PrAna. It is both environmentally friendly and free from toxins and chemicals which can harm the body, including latex, PVC, and chlorine. It also has a closed-cell structure which makes it helpful in absorbing sweat and moisture.
Its length is 72 inches and 24 inches in width while having a thickness of 5mm and a weight of 2.2 lbs. This yoga mat has great anti-slip properties and is comfortable when in use, making it good for different yoga practices.
Not to mention, it is lightweight, making it easy for you when traveling or indulging in a yoga session in different areas, like the gym, park or studio.
- Made from renewable and environmentally friendly resource
- Has good absorption
- Has good traction
- Free from PVC, plasticizers, and latex
- Can be pricey
- Has a light cork and rubber smell from the first few uses
Yoloha is one of the leading yoga brands in the US which specializes in cork made yoga mats. Yoloha Nomad Cork Yoga mat is a lightweight and versatile yoga mat that can be used in different yoga practices. Its cork surface provides a non-slip and antimicrobial surface which naturally kills bacteria and germs and provides that much-needed balance when in use.
It is not only versatile in yoga practices but also in where you use it. Its base is a dense foam that is highly comfortable and effective in giving you support whether in the studio, park or even at the beach.
This yoga mat is high in quality and is eco-friendly, it has a length of 72 inches, a width of 26 inches and a thickness of 4mm, and overall weight of 2.5 lbs.
If used daily especially in hot yoga, make sure to clean the top or cork side after every use to maintain its look and freshness. Simply spray the mat with a mat cleaner or Yoloha’s very own detox cleaning spray and allow to air dry before rolling up. This can prevent your body’s sweat and oils from building up on the mat.
- Have a wider coverage, which is great for tall people
- Has a good balance between floor and cushioning
- Has alignment marks which can help beginner yogis in learning the correct alignment poses
- Free from toxic chemicals and materials including TPE, latex, and PVC
- Has a slight odor when first opened and used
- Is not suitable for washing machine cleaning and tumble drier
Heathyoga is a yoga company that has been producing professional yoga products and equipment for more than 10 years.
Their product, Heathyoga Eco-friendly Non-slip yoga mat is made from Thermoplastic elastomers, also known as TPE which is either plastic or rubber, this is one of the latest materials used in creating modern yoga mats.
Although TPE might be costly since this product is mostly used in developing medical equipment such as baby products, it also poses a number of advantages and benefits. It is free from latex, PVC, toxins and harmful chemicals. In addition to this, this type of material is environmentally friendly and recyclable.
Heathyoga mats are excellent for both beginners and professional yogis as this mat has an excellent grip and strong anti-slip characteristics, it also has alignment markings embedded on the mat itself which can help yogis in executing proper pose and posture.
- Natural and eco-friendly
- Good anti-slip feature
- Not budget-friendly
- Must use a moisturize towel in cleaning
Anja Natural Jute Yoga Mat is a vegan yoga mat that is eco-friendly, recyclable, and made from organic jute fiber and Polymer Environmental Resin or PER, that is good for the environment. This yoga mat is free from harmful chemicals and heavy metals which makes it safe to use, including PVC and BPA.
This mat is good for traveling due to its cotton carrier strap which makes moving around convenient, in addition to this it is also highly durable, lightweight and easy to roll.
This yoga mat is also comfortable to use and is soft on your skin and joints. It has that strong grip as well which helps in keeping you in place when doing yoga poses.
Another great thing about this mat is that it is easy to clean and care for. You can simply wipe it down with water and disinfectant like eucalyptus and then you can hang it to dry.
- Can be cleaned through machine
- It has a suede fabric which is good for absorbing sweat and moisture
- It is lightweight and has a carrying bag making it easy for traveling
- Has good traction
- Not advisable on rough surfaces
- Its natural scent can fade after multiple washes
TOPLUS Eco-friendly yoga mat is a thick yoga mat that provides extra comfort and support. It is a high-density yoga mat that is good for various yoga practices including pilates. It also has a double layer structure which is designed for an excellent grip and traction.
It is also made from eco-friendly materials which are safe for the environment and contain no latex or PVC or any harmful toxins and chemicals that can harm your health.
This yoga mat is lightweight and easy to carry and comes with a carrying strap which makes it easy and convenient for you if you travel a lot.
- Provides extra and excellent cushioning
- Has a double-sided feature that gives that extra grip and non-slip
- Moisture and sweat cannot affect the mat’s stickiness due to good absorption
- Made from a durable and long-lasting material called TPE which is also free from toxins
- Hypoallergenic and free from other toxins and chemicals like latex and PVC
- Has alignment lines that serve as guides when executing poses
- Can be too thick for some yogis
- It has a strap but a little short for most people
What is mostly known about the IUGA Extra-thick Eco-friendly Yoga Mat is that it is thicker than most yoga mats. This yoga mat is made from TPE or thermoplastic elastomer which is highly durable and is built to last, without the risk of harmful and toxic chemicals. Also, it doesn’t harm the environment.
This mat is also recognized for its wide coverage, with a length of 72 inches and a width of 26 inches, and a thickness of 7mm this makes the yoga mat inclusive for tall people. In addition to this, if you are new to yoga, the alignment marks that the mats are a great way of knowing if you’re doing the poses properly.
Its double-sided feature also gives that extra grip. The rigid side gives the mat that extra grip on various surfaces such as wood, tiles and even carpet. The side with less texture provides that traction on your elbows, feet, and hands so you won’t slip.
This is one of the few mats out there that is odorless.
Yoga mat care and maintenance
Although there are various ways of taking care of yoga mats, which can highly depend on what type of yoga mat you have and what material it is made of, there are still some general rules when it comes to taking care of your yoga mat properly.
Below are some key points in taking care of your yoga mat that you should always keep in mind in order to make sure that your mat will last for a long time and will retain its overall look and feel.
Know the difference between synthetic and natural (rubber)
It’s good to know that both natural and synthetic yoga mats have a different way of taking care of. Synthetic yoga mats, like polyurethane and PVC, have different performances compared to natural rubber and even with minimal care can last for a long time.
Also, natural rubbers, on the other hand, can be quite sensitive to chemicals including soaps because these chemicals can breakdown and eventually destroy natural rubber. This is why natural (rubber) yoga mats require cleaners that are intended for them or are made manually or DIY with essential oils and vinegar as disinfectants.
Although soaps can be used in yoga mats (for synthetic rubber) as long as you dilute the soap first before wiping it down your yoga mat.
This is most especially because natural rubbers have that strong rubbery smell which would make you want to clean it more.
While some yoga mats can withstand the washing machine and be soaked in water, you shouldn’t. This is because water can break down your mats construction which can even lead to deformity.
To be on the safe side, just follow the usually recommended routine when cleaning yoga mats, and that is by simply wiping it down with a towel or warm cloth together with the cleaning agent that is recommended for your yoga mat.
Always do thorough research on the care and maintenance of your yoga mat before doing anything to it to prevent any damage.
Although sunlight can help dry your yoga mat and get rid of that rubber scent, exposing it might not be a good idea. Too much exposure from sunlight can make your yoga mat’s material break down and make its color fade.
If you’re planning to dry your yoga mat or get rid of that rubber smell, one good way to do it is to dry it during the day but make sure your yoga mat is somewhere where there is shade.
Synthetic rubber mats are more susceptible to sun damage than natural rubber mats.
Yoga mat storage Ideas
Here are some tips on storing your yoga mat:
- Don’t keep it in your car, especially when hot
- Don’t throw it around
- Don’t pile things on top of it
- Don’t use it for anything else other than what it is intended for, like a beach towel, etc.
Since there are still some yoga mats out there that are not eco-friendly and can pose a threat to your overall health, it can be quite understandable why some people would rather do yoga without a proper mat or even not take a risk in indulging in yoga at all.
However, due to the years that have passed and trends that have emerged, people have invented and created yoga mats that address these issues and concerns, and now there are many and various yoga mats that you can use without having to worry about harming the environment and exposing your health.
As mentioned, there are many yoga mats out there that are eco-friendly and non-hazardous, however, the one that stood the most is the Yoloha Nomad Cork Yoga Mat.
Yoloha has been known for many years as a leading yoga brand in the US due to its signature cork yoga mats that are environment-friendly and toxic and chemical-free.
Although quite pricey, the investment is worth it as this mat can provide the grip that you need in performing yoga, is highly durable, has a natural cork scent which is less irritating than rubber, and is even antimicrobial, which means it naturally gets rid of bacteria and germs.
If health is of importance to you then spending a little extra money to protect yourself is a good investment, and it’s also a money-back guarantee as this yoga mat is highly durable and is made to last.
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