Your Yoga Mat May Be Trying to Kill You and The Earth

Your yoga breath shouldn’t choke the earth.

Did you know that a lot of yoga mats, especially inexpensive ones, are made with PVC, polyvinyl chloride. It is a type of lightweight plastic.

As with any king of plastic, it is filled with toxic chemicals, and it is not biodegradable. So, not only are you deeply breathing in harmful chemicals, but when your yoga mat has seen its last savasana, the mat will live until infinity and beyond in a landfill.

Yoga is a practice of mindfulness, and it is important to be mindful of not only your breath while holding a pose, but of how every product you use during yoga is impacting the world around you.

Thankfully, there are more earth-friendly yoga mats!

Eco-Mindful Yoga Mats

  1. Cotton – Cotton mats are sustainable and biodegradable. Cotton mats are also perfect for any outdoor practice as well as hot yoga. They also work great on carpet, which makes them wonderful for an at-home practice! They can also be thrown directly into the washing machine to keep them clean, so they are very sanitary as well. I own this type of mat, and I love it. It is also incredibly lightweight, and would be an excellent travel companion.
    • Jade Yoga Organic Cotton Mysore Yoga Rugs – This mat is handwoven in India and made with all-natural dyes. Your purchase also helps to fund a week of hot lunches to a child in need in India, where the rug is produced. (I have the orange one! Let’s be mat twins!)
    • Hugger Mugger Cotton Yoga Rug – This is a more inexpensive option for a cotton mat. (I am unsure about production sustainability for this mat.)
  2. Cork – Cork mats are sustainable and biodegradable. Cork is made from cork oak trees, and it is harvested through a process called “uncorking” which removes the outer layer of the oak without ever harming the tree. The tree regenerates this cork layer every 9 years. Cork mats provide more cushion than a cotton mat, and it is naturally antibacterial!
    • Repose Eco-Friendly Yoga mat, Responsibly Sourced Cork & Natural Rubber Mat – This mat is cork on the top, and uses a natural rubber on the bottom. Now, natural rubber is “technically” biodegradable, but it takes a VERY long time. This also, unfortunately, is shipped only through Amazon. It is, however, made without any glues or toxic chemicals, so that’s a definite win!
    • Corc Yoga – This company is based in Portugal and has a range of mats that are a mix of cork and cotton! They are chemical free, naturally antimicrobial, and hypoallergenic, and the mats are also supposed to be slip-proof due to the honeycomb structure of the cork on the underside of the mat.
  3. Natural Rubber – Again, these mats are a better option than a PVC mat, but natural rubber is not the most sustainable option due to harvesting practices and it takes a long time to biodegrade. However, I wanted to include some better options for those who are looking for a rubber mat.
    • Manduka eKO Series – Manduka is one of the most recommended yoga mat brands, and they have included a more “eco-friendly” series of mats. These mats are made from natural rubber, that is not sourced from the Amazon, which is a plus. There were also no toxic chemicals used to soften the rubber, which is better for the planet and your lungs. Manduka also has a LiveOn program that you can opt-into at checkout which allows you to send in your old yoga mat to be recycled into materials with The Renewal Workshop.
    • Jade Yoga Harmony Mat – These mats are made with sustainably-sourced, natural rubber. (Though they are 99% latex-free, they are not recommended for someone with a latex allergy, due to cross-contamination.) Jade mats are made in the U.S, and for every yoga mat sold, Jade Yoga plants a tree through their partnership with Trees for the Future! Trees for the Future not only plants trees, but it helps to provide an income for farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa.

I hope this list will help guide you to find an eco-mindful yoga mat that suits your needs. I would also like to say that I do not encourage you to run out and buy a new yoga mat if the one you are using is still viable. Use your yoga mat to its end, and then consider replacing it with a more eco-conscious option. When you’re finished with your old mat, look for a place to recycle, or refer to Jade Yoga’s list of “What Can I Do with My Old Mat?”

Yoga is such a connective practice, let’s extend that connection to the earth as well.

Know any other eco-friendly yoga mat brands? Leave them in the comments below!

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