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Last updated on October 24th, 2017
You have been looking for a non-toxic yoga mat that
- won’t have a bad chemical smell,
- won’t contain potentially harmful chemicals,
- won’t pollute the environment,
- and will also be comfortable for your yoga practice.
Probably for a while now.
Looking for a comfortable yoga mat can be frustrating in and of itself. It only gets more complicated when you try to factor in potential harm to your health from the materials used to make them.
Over the course of a few years, I’ve bought my share of yoga mats searching for the perfect non-toxic one. I’ve smelled them, read Amazon reviews, and practiced yoga on them. At this point, I have maxed out my yoga mat budget and am continuing to use the yoga mats we have as to not add more to the landfill.
Today you will learn about 5 yoga mats that are made with natural materials and, in my opinion, are safer than yoga mats made petroleum materials such as PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride), PER (Polymer Environmental Resin), and TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomer).
There are so many types of materials that yoga mats can be made of. In fact, I found 11. For you to become more clear what yoga mats are made, I’ve also created a cheat sheet of all 11 types of yoga mat materials. You will be able to figure out where a particular yoga mat you are considering lies on the spectrum of potential toxicity. You can purchase this cheat sheet for $2.99 by clicking on the button the end of this post.
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Jade Harmony Yoga Mat
Pros: Jade Harmony makes a yoga mat made of natural rubber. Natural rubber is made from rubber trees. Incisions are made into the bark and the fluid, called latex, is collected into vessels in a process called “tapping”. After that, the fluid is made into rubber, which involves adding vulcanizing agents and chemical additives. While natural rubber is not totally free of chemicals, it is better than synthetic rubber, which is made of petroleum-based materials – some of which are known carcinogens (read more here).
The Jade Harmony yoga mat a comfortable mat upon which to practice yoga. Natural rubber grips the floor well. It is an open cell mat, which means that your sweat will get absorbed into the mat, allowing for a continued good grip for your hands during the practice. The downside of open cell mats is that you have to keep them clean.
Cons: It turned out that this yoga mat has undisclosed additives – something I learned from the manufacturer after I bought the mat. The reason I got suspicious is that when it arrived, it had a strong chemical smell.
Also, a German magazine published test results that revealed that Jade Harmony yoga mats contain nitrosamines, which are linked with cancer, which brings me back to the point that we do not fully know what chemicals are used in the production of natural rubber.
Where to buy: Amazon
The Original Eco Yoga Mat
Pros: This non-toxic yoga mat is made with a layer of natural rubber and a top layer of jute fiber.
Natural rubber allows the mat to stay put on the floor. And jute fiber allows even heavy sweaters not to slip and feel stable. It is on the thinner side, so if you need extra cushion like me you might wish for a little more. Overall, it is very comfortable to use. By the way, jute fibers come from jute plants that, unlike cotton, do not require much fertilizers or pesticides to grow.
What I love the most about this non-toxic yoga mat is the absence of a toxic smell. When right out of box, this non-toxic yoga mat has a mild smell resembling diluted vinegar – nothing unpleasant. I pressed my nose against it and the smell did not bother me at all.
It is NOT made in China but in the UK.
Cons: The layer of jute is not bonded very well and after 4 months or so it started coming off and shedding all over me. I talked to the seller and he recommended if shedding occurs to wash it in the tub and dry it with towels. I also like that it is a closed cell mat, which means that you do not have to wash as often as you would have to wash an open cell mat. If you are a heavy sweater, bring a towel to your yoga practice though.
The German agency tested it, too, and discovered that it contains nitrosamines, just as the Jade Harmony yoga mat does. This was very disappointing, because it does not have a chemical smell. However, I still like this mat and consider to be a better option than many petroleum-based yoga mats.
Jute Natural Rubber Yoga Mat
Cons: The composition of this non-toxic yoga mat is the same as The Original Eco Yoga Mat’s – natural rubber on the bottom and jute on top. It seems that in this mat, the jute is more integrated with the natural rubber because I have not experienced any shedding. And I have been using this mat for over a year.
The mat is the right amount of thickness, even for me, and I always need extra cushion. When right out of the box, it has a smell, a little more than The Original Eco Yoga Mat has, but not as strong as the Jade Harmony yoga mat or a PVC yoga mat would. And this non-toxic yoga mat is quite affordable!
Pros: There are no independent tests, so we do not know for sure if there are any toxic emissions. And I believe it is made in China.
Where to buy: Yoga Mat Store
Yolona Yoga Mat
I have recently come across this non-toxic yoga mat. It looks pretty good to me. Unfortunately, I can’t buy any more yoga mats.
Pros: This non-toxic yoga mat is made of two materials – a top layer of cork and a button layer of synthetic rubber that comes from recycled tires.
Cork is made from the bark of Cork Oak trees in Portugal (which is known for its cork, by the way; ask any winemaker). Cork production is sustainable because the cork tree is not cut down to obtain cork. Instead, the bark is stripped every 9 years and trees live up to 300 years. Are you curious how cork is made? Head over here.
To make sure that this non-toxic yoga mat does not slip, synthetic rubber is used on the bottom. My concern with the synthetic rubber is that it may contain PAHs (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons) and heavy metals. The manufacturer informed me that the recycled rubber went through a triple washing process to get rid of heavy metals. The fact that this layer is on the bottom, not in your face, helps as well.
I have not tried it, but I was informed that this yoga mat does not have a bad chemical smell. It is also supposed to be durable. And it is made in the US.
Cons: It is on the expensive side. Again, it has not been tested to determine if there is any leaching or emissions of potentially harmful chemicals.
Yogasana Cotton Yoga Mat
Pros: This yoga mat is made of cotton. So you won’t find any chemicals (not considering fertilizers or pesticides used to grow cotton) or smell here. It is handmade in India.
Cons: It won’t grip to the floor so it is best to use it on the carpeted floor or with Grip It Pad or over another yoga mat.
Where to buy: Amazon
Organic Cotton Yoga Mat
Pros: If you want to be 100% sure that there is neither smell nor potentially harmful chemicals in your yoga mat, this non-toxic yoga mat made of organic cotton is something to consider. It has cotton batting so it should be great for people who need extra cushion.
Cons: It will require some adjusting and figuring out how to use it on a wood floor. Cotton just doesn’t have the gripping power of rubber.
Where to buy: Bean products website
This concludes the list of non-toxic yoga mat options. In sum, unless a yoga mat is made of plain cotton or thoroughly tested by an independent agency, we can’t be sure that the yoga mat is 100% void of any potentially harmful chemicals. However, these materials detailed in the post are better for our health and the environment.
For a cheat sheet of 11 yoga mat materials so you know where a yoga mat, you are considering, lies on a spectrum of toxicity, click on the purple button.
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