A Guide to Non-Toxic Yoga Mat Options

posted in: Yoga Mats | 41

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Last updated on June 26th, 2018

non-toxic yoga mat eco yoga mat

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 7 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 below.  Thank you for supporting my independent research!

 

 

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 a 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.

 

Where to buy: Barefoot website. By the way, Barefoot carries organic cotton clothing.

 

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

 

When I came across this non-toxic yoga mat, I did not have a budget to buy another yoga mat.  But it looks pretty good to me.

 

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.

 

Where to buy: Yolona website or Amazon

 

Scoria Yoga Mat

 

This is the non-toxic yoga mat that I currently use.

 

Pros: This non-toxic yoga mat is made of two materials – a top layer of cork and a bottom a layer of natural rubber.

 

Cork is made from the bark of Cork Oak trees in Portugal.  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.  To learn how cork is made, visit here.

 

To make sure that this non-toxic yoga mat does not slip, natural rubber is used on the bottom.  Natural rubber is a better option than synthetic rubber used as a backing in Yolona yoga mats.

 

This is the non-toxic yoga mat that I am using.  It provides good support even when I am not sweaty as recommended by Scoria.

 

The chemical smell is only detectable if you press your nose to the natural rubber side, which you do not need to because you will be facing the cork layer.

 

Cons: It has not been tested to determine if there is any leaching or emissions of potentially harmful chemicals.  And it is made in China.

 

Where to buy:  Scoria website

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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41 Responses

      • Laura

        Hi Irina,

        I’m considering the Manduka eKO Lite, so I’d be interested to read your update on the eKO!

        I’m just wondering how you found out about the materials of the mat and if you have any thoughts on the polyester that’s in the mat. Do you reckon that’s hazardous either to your health or to the environment when the mat meets to be broken down?

        Looking forward to reading your thoughts!

        • Tim

          I notice you did not respond to this latest post Irina. I am too looking to purchase a new mat and found this article and had concerns with the Manduka eKO. I would really like to buy a new mat this week, but I first want your opinion on this mat. Thanks so much, and I too look forward to reading your thoughts

          • Irina Webb

            Hi, Tim, to answer your question I would need to get a hold of them and ask a few questions. I am stretched thin right now. I’ll try to do as soon as I can. Thank you for the reminder. ~Irina

    • Kelly

      I just want to add something here about the Maduka Eko. I had very high hopes for this mat after deciding to replace my Jade Harmony mat with it. I wasn’t never thrilled with the Jade Harmony because it never stopped smelling quite strong of rubber, even 5 years later. But, whew!, the Manduka smell blows my Jade Harmony out of the water. I left my new Manduka Eko outside on our screened porch for 3 weeks to air out, and it still smells just as strong. As in, when I left it in my bedroom with the door closed for a few hours and came back, the smell was overpowering. I am very sensitive, but sheesh! So bummed about this, since I’d pretty much determined this was the best option out there. Rethinking that now…

    • Irina Webb

      Yes, if it is 100% natural rubber then I should include them in the list. It is a good idea to call and verify that it is in fact 100% natural rubber though. Let us know if you call them. ~Irina

    • Brian

      Update: They replied it’s not 100% rubber but rather that the rubber is 100% natural (misleading if you ask me but apparently that’s what all the companies do, it seems that all the so called natural mattresses contain hidden toxics).

      I think maybe I’ll just buy the Nike’s mat which came up fine in the German test.

      • Irina Webb

        Hi, Brian: I could find the Nike yoga mat listed in the German review. The Nike yoga mats I am seeing are made of PVC. Let me know if you find it. That’s why I always to talk to the companies instead of relying on the website description. I had made that mistake a few times. 🙂 ~Irina

  1. Prabighya Basnet

    Hello Irina! This is great that you are researching on this. My interest for non-toxic yoga mat has led me to work with my partner to make our own yoga mat in Nepal which is made of wild hemp and cotton canvas (undyed and natural dyed)with nettle trimming. I use it all the time and we are now producing it to sell as well.

  2. Brianne

    Hi Irina!
    I found your site while searching to see if there is any form of a “Safe” PVC. I bought a Rody Horse toy for my son for Christmas that is made by this company. When I ordered it online, the site said nothing about PVC, it just said that it was BPA-free, Phalate – free and made of Latex vinyl. I never thought I would get it and see the PVC symbol on the box!! I am so frustrated as it is pretty much his ONLY Christmas present. I was wondering what you think of what this company that makes it says on their site about the PVC it is made from.

    http://www.gymnic.com/en/about-us/

    I look forward to hearing from you!

    Brianne

    • Irina Webb

      Hi, Brianne: I understand your predicament. And I want to help you so much that I emailed them. Unfortunately, they did not provide more information than it is already on the website. It looks like their PVC is a safer one at least according to their claim. I understand that PVC can be made without phthalates and lead. However, I am puzzled by their claim that their PVC is made without chlorine because chlorine is a building block of PVC. When vinyl is made without chlorine it would be something else such as EVA. Since it is the only toy for your child for Christmas, I would give it to him. The factor of joy is important. ~Irina

  3. Alexis

    Hi Irina, Thanks for this post! But I was wondering if the Manduka Pro and Manduka Pro Lite have PVC in them? Not to be mistaken with Manduka’s Eko series of yogamats. I’ve been scouring the net to check if the regular Pro Mats have PVCs in them but haven’t found a source reliable enough. Let me know what you find! Thanks!

  4. Tanya

    I can not say Thank You enough! I am always wondering what is in products. I really appreciate you doing this work to help educate consumers. You are on the leading edge of a new wave, keep flowing!

  5. Bridget

    Hi Tayna
    Can you tell me why natural rubber latex mats are bad? And how can some companies say that natural rubber mats are latex free?
    Thanks

    • Irina Webb

      Hi, Bridget: Could you send me an example of where you saw that a natural rubber mat is advertised as latex-free? Often, natural rubber mat have other synthetic materials added to it without a proper disclosure so this can make it hard to get comfortable with its safety. And some independent tests showed the presence of potentially harmful chemicals in them and they do smell pretty strong. So they are not bad but can’t really say with confidence that they are safe either. More transparency is needed. Does it help? ~Irina

      • Bridget

        HI Irina
        This is what yogaeverywhere.com.au says
        WHY ARE YOGAEVERYWHERE MATS ECO-FRIENDLY?
        – Our mats are made of a biodegradable, recyclable 100% natural tree rubber base and microfiber top layer
        – They are free from latex, silicone, toxic glue, and phthalates

        And this is Bowern.com.au
        WHAT ARE BOWERN YOGA MATS MADE OF?
        3mm biodegradable & recyclable tree-rubber with a micro-fibre suede top. We’ve made sure there is no latex, silicone, toxic glue, PVC or other nasties.

        • Irina Webb

          Hi, Bridget: It is possible that there is a process to remove latex protein but I do not think it is normally guaranteed 100%. Ask them if there is a process they use or is it a typo? It is also possible that there is so much synthetics on top that they use very little natural rubber. It is best to have a conversation with them ~Irina

  6. Laura

    For those who have Latex allergies or have had many medical procedures ie. born a premature- you do not want to use natural rubber- it is latex. Many times too- people are allergic to the chemicals used to process the natural rubber and also the synthetic materials as well.

  7. Tania

    How about camp sleeping mat made from polyethylene and use it as yoga mat? Thanks

  8. Laura

    Hi. I have emailed lifeforme as well as Bowern bc I’m in the market for a new mat. lifeforme sent me so much info that I can’t even dumb it down and understand it. I’d love to email it to you if you’re willing to help. This is Bowern’s Response: Certainly, we use recyclable tree rubber on the base and a micro-fibre suede upper to ensure the non-slip for you practise. There are no toxicities, PVC or harmful dies used in production.

  9. Alex

    Hi Irena. I emailed Jade Yoga about the nitrosamines in their yoga mats, and they said that they have since revised their formula to remove all nitrosamines.

      • Alex

        Hi Irina. I did not ask for a report. That’s probably a good idea. I will ask them if they could send me a test. For now, here is the email they sent me:

        ah@jadeyoga.com
        May 1 (6 days ago)
        to me
        —–
        Hi Alex,

        First, the German test you mention is a number of years old. Even though, as discussed in more detail below, our mats have always been safer than baby bottles, we changed our production process several years ago to eliminate all nitrosamines in our mats. So that report is not correct as currently there are no nitrosamines in our mats.

        While not applicable to our mats, you might be interested to know that the potential harms associated with nitrosamines are related to ingestion (eating/drinking) or inhalation (through smoking and tobacco and specifically tobacco specific nitrosamines), not contact exposure. Further, the level of nitrosamines in our mats was found in that study to be .248 ppm which is 40 times below the level allowed in infant pacifiers and baby bottle nipples in Germany (which has very stringent health laws). You might also be interested to know that the average German ingests more nitrosamines in beer every year than you would ingest if you ate three of our mats.

        Thank you again for letting us know your concerns and please let me know if you have any questions.

        Namaste!
        Alanna

  10. Kim

    Hi Irina!

    I just really wanted to thank you for doing all of this research cuz I’m pretty exhausted and fed up with only doing about two hours of research myself. I’ve only just begun though and have just started to wonder about the toxicity of yoga mats while starting to search for a replacement for myself and new one for my boyfriend’s birthday so we can stretch together. Now I’m afraid of purchasing altogether…though I know that actually getting to do what makes us feel good (yoga/stretching) is very important as well. So I’ll eventually have to bite the bullet and compromise as I do not have a very large budget.

    • Irina Webb

      Hi, Kim: You are right, the benefits of exercise outweigh the potential exposure to toxins. And remember stress is the biggest toxin of all. When we are stressed, our body becomes incapable of detoxifying. Please let me know which you mat you decided to buy (know that they have sales, too). Is there anything I can do to make you less stressed? Have a great weekend! ~Irina

  11. Akshay G

    Great article and good comments by many people. Thank you Irina for taking the time to research and provide us with all this information related to health and yoga mats – it is super helpful. I wanted to check with you – would you rate the Jade mat as the least toxic (since they have lowered nitrosamine levels?) Also, do you still think the Scoria mat is still a good option? – Though it is made from natural rubber there is no indication where the rubber originates from. I’m also curious if that German report is available in English. Google translate doesn’t format the report very well. Thanks Irina!

      • Akshay

        Hi Irina,

        I have not. I guess I was basing it on one of the comments above that showed a response from Jade’s customer service indicating that they had changed their production processes. I just ordered a Scoria mat.

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