What are standard, sticky, discount yoga mats made of?

An article explaining what standard, sticky, cheap yoga mats are made of.

The perfect yoga mat will be thick enough to be comfortable but thin enough to allow proper balance and light enough to carry around easily.  It will grip the floor and provide grip for your hands and feet.  The perfect yoga mat will also come in a fantastic range of colors and patterns.  Oh, we’d also like it cheap please!

Modern technology gave us the best solution available at the time in the form of the cheap, best selling, standard sticky yoga mat.  We’ve probably all had one.  But these yoga mats are very bad for the environment and hazardous to our health because of what they’re made of.

Let me tell you why.

Most cheap yoga mats are made of PVC.  We’re used to PVC and don’t tend to worry about it but, we should.

PVC is one of the most environmentally unfriendly materials ever made.  It’s been banned for certain uses in most of Europe and, most major motor manufacturers don’t use it in motor cars anymore because of the potential health hazards.  PVC is becoming known as the poison plastic. It certainly wouldn’t be part of my perfect yoga mat now.

Phthalates are a cocktail of chemicals added to rigid PVC to make it flexible.  The more flexible it needs to be (like yoga mats) the more phthalates are added.  A PVC yoga mat may be up to 60% phthalates by weight.  Phthalates are not chemically bound to the PVC so, over time, they leach out into the air and onto your skin.  In tests on lab animals phthalates have caused cancer, infertility, testicular damage, reduced sperm count, suppressed ovulation and abnormal testicular development.  They may also be linked to asthma and autism and are known to cross the placenta from mothers into developing embryos. The manufacturers assure us they are safe in humans but the modern alternatives used in Eco Yoga Mats, are better and just as cheap.  So why take the risk.

PVC production is the largest user of chlorine gas in the world.  Chlorine has some very nasty by-products.  Dioxin is one of these.  It has been proven  to cause cancer in humans and is the most potent synthetic carcinogen ever tested on lab animals.

Dioxins damage the immune system, reproduction, development and the endocrine system and have also been linked to birth defects, endometriosis, inability to carry pregnancies to term and decreased fertility.  There is no ’safe dose’. They are soluble in fat so they build up in the body and concentrate higher up the food chain. They also cross the placenta and concentrate in breast milk.

Dioxins are now so widespread that they are found in the tissues of whales, polar bears and probably every human on the planet.  They do not naturally degrade, so they continue to build up in the environment. Why would you want PVC in your yoga mat?

Dioxins don’t leak out of your yoga mat as they are only released during manufacture and destruction of PVC but, just think about the damage to the planet.

Ethylene dichloride
Ethylene dichloride (EDC) and vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) both cause cancer in lab animals.VCM causes cancer in humans and increased risks of liver, brain, breast and testicular cancer and the workers involved in production have been found to have an increased risk.  Both these chemicals are used in the production of PVC and therefore, yoga mats.

Heavy Metals
Mercury causes neurological, developmental and severe reproductive damage.  Large quantities of mercury are released into the environment in the production of chlorine gas for PVC.  Other additives to PVC can include lead and cadmium.

The saddest thing is that we don’t need to make plastics from toxic chemicals.  We only do it because it’s cheap.  Henry Ford was producing plastics from soy beans in the 1930s!

Going back to the perfect yoga mat –

“The perfect yoga mat will be thick enough to be comfortable but thin enough to allow proper balance and light enough to carry around easily.  It will grip the floor and provide grip for your hands and feet.  The perfect yoga mat will also come in a fantastic range of colors and patterns.  Oh, we’d also like it cheap please!”

But now, we’d also like to make sure it’s not made of PVC please!

No problem – just buy a modern Environmentally Friendly non PVC Eco Yoga Mat.

Take a look at Amazon’s best selling Eco Yoga Mats

Eco Mat Yoga

Wouldn't you rather buy an ecomat for yoga?

Here are two links to independant research articles on PVC, health and the environment.

Our health and PVC: What’s the connection

Environmental impacts of PVC building materials

Eco friendly yoga mats for pregnancy and prenatal yoga

A short article helping you to find the safest, most comfortable, eco mats for yoga during pregnancy.

I almost didn’t publish this eco yoga mat article as I didn’t want to seem to be writing “scare stories” about yoga mats, especially for prenatal yoga, but I think the information is important.

If you’re wanting to practice yoga during pregnancy I would try to avoid using a standard PVC yoga mat.

PVC is becoming known as the poison plastic and the majority of yoga mats are made with it.  Large quantities of chemicals called phthalates are added to PVC to make it flexible.  In lab tests phthalates have caused genetic abnormalities to the sexual organs of male rats.  It is also thought that they can cross the placenta from mother to child.  The phthalate industry argues that there is no evidence of the same effect in humans but why take the risk?

Phthalates are not chemically bound to the PVC so they leach out over time into the air and onto skin that comes into contact with the PVC.

In humans the feminization of boys may be linked to exposure in the womb and phthalates have been banned from use in children’s toys in Europe because of the health risks.

This is quite heavy stuff if you’ve just come looking for a yoga mat.  I’m sorry about that.  I’m not recommending that you give up yoga or that you spend lots of money.  Just consider buying an eco yoga mat instead.  They are just as good, if not better, than standard sticky yoga mats and they can be just as cheap.

On a lighter note ……….. pregnancy naturally increases your weight and many women find that their normal mat just isn’t thick enough to provide the extra cushion needed for knees and ankles.  Standard mats are only 1/8 of an inch thick but it’s possible to buy eco yoga mats 1/4 of an inch thick that are still firm enough for good balance.  If your replacing your yoga mat anyway, then why not go for an extra thick yoga mat for extra comfort during prenatal yoga.

Many expectant mothers also really benefit from the extra support provided by a yoga bolster.

It’s very much a question of personal preference so search the Internet to find an Eco Yoga Mat.  Yoga mats vary considerably in price so make sure you shop around.

Amazon.com very often have the best value eco yoga mats and the hundreds of customer reviews certainly help you to choose the best eco yoga mat.

Check out Amazon’s best selling Eco Friendly Yoga Mats

Eco Mat Yoga

The perfect Ecomat - Yoga on the beach!