If you want your yoga practice to be filled with peace and love, start by being thoughtful about your choice of a yoga mat.
When you look down at your yoga mat and take a deep inhalation, you want to focus on everything that is good in your life. Express gratitude to yourself for the love that you are expressing just by taking the time to practice Yoga and take care of yourself; remember all that you have to be grateful for in the World, from life itself to the smallest luxuries that you may take for granted now and then. There is so much that we can be happy about that it can be difficult to keep up with it all.
This, of course, is one of the fantastic powers of Yoga: it creates an opportunity for us to recognize and embrace the positive. As you are embracing the positive, you want to be sure that your yoga mat is conducive to a positive, healthy, and aware mindset.
Choosing the best yoga mat for your yogic Lifestyle highly depends on the type of Yoga you practice, the intensity of your practice, and your personal needs. Nevertheless, the most important factor that has to be taken into consideration is the eco-friendliness of the materials the yoga mat is made from.
Let’s take a look at what is happening in the market and how to choose a yoga mat that would be healthy both for you and for the environment.
Reality vs. Illusion
Just imagine for a moment a yoga mat made from toxic materials or something equally horrific. Not very enticing, is it? But the truth is that, unfortunately, many yoga beginners, yoga teachers, and even yoga studios own cheap PVC yoga mats filled with heavy metals, like arsenic, mercury, cadmium. They are needed in order to make the PVC yoga mat durable and stable.
Already knowing this should be enough for mindful yogis to avoid purchasing PVC yoga mats.
We came to realise that this is a global problem because PVC yoga mats are cheap, effective and everyone wants to have them without being aware of the consequences – both for the health and for the environment. If you are new to Yoga and your yoga teacher recommends you a yoga mat in your favorite color which will keep you from slipping while you are doing a downward dog – you just trust your yoga teacher and get one, without even asking a question what is it made from.
Bingo! This is the gap which is very big and must be filled in!
We believe that it is the responsibility of every yoga teacher and every yoga studio to always suggest to either beginners or to advanced yogis (who wish to replace the old yoga mats) - only the best, eco-friendly yoga mats that are friendly for the environment and healthy for the practice.
It is the responsibility of every yoga teacher to lead by example and help their students to begin their Yogic journey with mindful choices.
The last thing we want to do, as Yogic Lifestyle living yogis, put ourselves in the position where we claim how much Yoga is helping us to connect to ourselves and the World while at the same time we unwittingly harm the Planet each time we roll out the plastic yoga mat.
How to recognise PVC yoga mat?
There are different types of PVC yoga mats that are available in the market nowadays: simple PVC yoga mats, mats with amazing prints, mats made from PVC base and jute top, and more expensive ones. For the latter ones, it takes a little bit more effort to read the label “between the lines” because brands became smarter of not telling directly to their customers that their mats contain PVC.
The lowest quality PVC yoga mats are usually…not expensive. They come in a variety of colors. They are soft, spongy, light-weighted, and have an amazing description. The keywords like “light to carry”, “amazing grip”, “affordable,” “beginners mat” are there to seduce the yogi so that the word PVC is overlooked. Since PVC yoga mats indeed have a good grip because of added heavy metals, they also negatively impact the Plant and your health. The most recognizable feature is the “small squares”: when you look at the mat, it seems as the yoga mat is made from “the small squares.”
It is very easy to print on the surface of these yoga mats. Therefore brands make yogis open their wallets not only because of the low prices but also because of the fantastic patterns: mandalas, dream-catchers, pictures of dunes, sunsets, animals, nature. You name it – and it is there. Be aware that most kid’s yoga mats are also made from PVC: funny design, favorite color, attractive price. Before you had a chance to read a label, your kid is already carrying it under the armpit. If you really think of getting a yoga mat for your kid, it is worth investing in a good – natural rubber – yoga mat. Take the opportunity to explain to your kid that his/her eco-friendly yoga mat will stay with him/her for a longer period of time, it will be his/her safe place to practice, and it will make this Planet happy! This is also the moment you can explain about Global plastic pollution in an easy for him/her understand language.
What does “eco-PVC” mean?
PVC yoga mats with the top jute layer are becoming very popular as well. Jute is the most used natural fiber in the World. It is an Earth-friendly product; however, putting jute on the top of PVC yoga mat does not make that mat eco-friendly. In fact “eco-PVC” term does not exist: there is no eco-friendly way of manufacturing PVC products. This term was invented to attract customers to buy plastic products by making them look “less harmful.”
The most challenging is to resist the brands that sell PVC yoga mats for a lifetime: the structure of these mats is denser, feels more solid, but are no less harmful to the environment than any other PVC yoga mats. We all have limited time on this Planet Earth so leaving the yoga mat, which will last another hundred-human-Lifetimes after we passed away, is not really a mindful decision.
What are the alternatives to PVC Yoga mats?
When the right timing comes for you to buy a yoga mat, we suggest investing in natural rubber yoga mats. Whether it is a natural rubber yoga mat with PU top, natural rubber with Microfiber/towel top, or simply a natural rubber yoga mat - this Mindful decision will be aligned with the values of your Yogic Lifestyle.
Take some time to look for the brands that offer nothing but the best yoga mats to support your yogic Lifestyle, which, by the way, starts by owning an eco-friendly yoga mat. These yoga mats will be environmentally friendly and guilt-free. You will use them in the knowledge that you are not harming the environment in any way.
Take a look at yourself when you have a moment and try to think of an answer to this question: What do you want from your yoga practice?
Whatever your answer is – growth, introspection, health, healing, enlightenment, self-love, strength, calm – you need to start first by picking the right yoga mat. Put a little thought into your choice in this area!