Yoga mats are a vital part of your yoga practice. They help you achieve the correct alignment and posture, and they protect your hardwood floor or carpet from any damage that may occur during an intense session.
But not all types of yoga mats are eco-friendly. As you might imagine, there are two main categories to choose from: natural fibers and synthetic fiber mats. The first type of mat is usually organic cotton or hemp, while the second type of mat is made from polyurethane foam with added cotton batting.
The most common type of yoga mat you will find in stores is probably a thin, plastic one. These do offer some protection against sharp objects, but they also can trap dust and bacteria between the sticky surface and your skin. If you’re looking for something more comfortable, we recommend opting for a traditional wooden mat. But what about those mats that claim to be “eco friendly”? Are these really good for your health and the environment, or are they just greenwashing?
Organic vs. Synthetic Fiber Matting
In general, there are three main kinds of yoga matting available: natural fibers, synthetic fibers, and bamboo.
Natural fiber mats, such as organic cotton, are made from plant fiber. Cotton fiber is composed of cellulose, which is a complex molecule consisting of glucose units, making it extremely strong and durable. Because the cotton doesn’t have to be chemically treated, it stays soft and absorbent throughout the course of its life cycle (which could last up to 100 years).
Synthetic fiber mats like polyester or nylon are less expensive than cotton because they’re produced using chemical processes. This makes them easier to produce at scale, which means they are cheaper for manufacturers to produce and sell.
Bamboo mats are another great option if you’re concerned about sustainability.
Although bamboo matting isn’t considered environmentally sustainable, it does require less water than other types of mats. Bamboo grows quickly and requires little maintenance once established.
Bamboo is also very resistant to fungi and mold. This isn’t ideal when buying a mat, but it’s much better than a mat made from synthetic materials.
Another important factor to consider when choosing a mat is how easily it absorbs moisture. A mat that is too wet can make you slip and fall on your way out of the studio. So look for a mat that has a high absorption rate so that it doesn’t retain excess water after every use.
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Here are some of the best eco-friendly yoga mats on the market today:
- Gaia Organic Natural Fiber Yoga Mat (100% bamboo):
This mat is made of 100% recycled bamboo fiber and is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). It is also CertiPURPured certified, which means that it won’t absorb harmful chemicals.
The mat comes in six sizes ranging from 4-by-10 inches to 12-by-30 inches. It is made from recycled materials so it’s easy on the wallet, plus it’s super soft!
- Vinyasa Green Organic Cotton Yoga Mat:
Made from 100% organic cotton, this mat is both eco-friendly and affordable. It’s available in four different sizes: 5-by-8 inches, 7-by-12 inches, 10-by-15 inches, and 15-by-22 inches.
- EarthMat Organic Cotton Yoga Mat:
If you want to save money and still get a quality mat, go with a company like EarthMat. Their mats come in multiple colors, shapes, and sizes. It’s also environmentally friendly, made from renewable resources and certified by the FSC. All of their products are free of harsh chemicals, pesticides, and GMO’s. They also provide free shipping worldwide.
- Yogamats Eco-Friendly Yoga Mat:
These mats are made from 100% recycled rubber wood, and they come in five different sizes: 6-by-9 inches, 8-by-11 inches, 9-by-13 inches, 11-by-16 inches, and 12-by-20 inches.
- YOGA MATTER ECO-PRODUCTS:
Their mats are made from recycled PET bottles and are biodegradable. They come in eight different sizes and are certified by the FSC.
- Yoga Tree Eco-Friendly Yoga Mat:
This mat is made with recycled plastic bottles and is certified by the FSC and the RSPO. It can handle temperatures down to minus 13 degrees Fahrenheit and can withstand a lot of wear and tear. In addition, it’s anti-microbial and hypoallergenic, and it provides cushioning and support without adding extra bulk.
Which kind of Yoga Mat is right for me?
We recommend getting a mat that is thick enough to keep you safe, yet light enough to move around comfortably. Most studios will give you a mat to try before purchasing one. If it feels too heavy or bulky, then you should opt for a smaller size.
Also, avoid buying a mat that has a slick, slippery surface. Try to find a mat with a good amount of grip, like a grippy rubber material. This will allow you to hold on while doing poses that involve balance, like headstands.
When choosing a mat, think about how often you plan to use it. Do you plan on practicing yoga regularly, or will you only need it occasionally? Also, check the label to see if the mat was made from organic cotton, recycled materials, or bamboo.
With the right mat, you can transform your home into a wellness sanctuary. And you don’t even have to worry about cleaning it!