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.

PVC
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
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.

Dioxins
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

How thick should a yoga mat be?

A short article helping you to find the perfect, comfortable, extra thick eco mat for yoga.

“No pain no gain” doesn’t apply to yoga. As long as it works for you you’re allowed to buy the thickest yoga mat you can find! It has to be firm enough to balance on but other wise, just like yoga, it’s very personal.

Standard sticky yoga mats are about 1/8 th of an inch thick (3mm).  If, you’re light and supple this is probably fine but if, like me, you’re a little heavier then your knees and ankles will push painfully through to the hard floor underneath the yoga mat.  A towel under your joints for padding is one solution but, the better answer is to buy a thicker, more comfortable eco yoga mat.

Yoga mats are designed to provide a cushion between your body and the hard floor but a good yoga mat will also be firm enough to let you balance during your standing yoga poses.  Many yoga poses need a solid footing so the perfect yoga mat will give a combination of firmness and comfort without being so heavy that you need a trolley to take it to yoga class!

If you suffer with arthritis, joint pain or simply sensitive ankles, elbows and knees, or if your weight pushes you through a standard sticky yoga mat then you will really appreciate the much more comfortable 1/4 inch yoga mats.

If you’re practicing yoga during pregnancy you may well find that your thinner mat is not as comfortable as it used to be. Yoga bolsters are often very helpful for prenatal yoga but you may also benefit from a thicker eco yoga mat.  But, please make sure it is an ECO yoga mat to avoid exposure to phthalates during pregnancy.

More active styles of yoga are also more suited to thicker yoga mats but many people prefer rubber yoga mats because they are much firmer than thick foam yoga mats.

Avoid PVC yoga mats (especially during pregnancy) as the hazardous chemicals used in manufacture may damage your health.

You may have seen the stuffed cotton, futon style, extra thick yoga mats.  These yoga mats are designed for restorative yoga and meditation.  They are more like beds than yoga mats and are only really suitable for the sitting or laying down poses as balancing on your feet on an extra thick cotton yoga mat is very difficult.  Buy one of these for relaxing at home but otherwise buy a foam Eco Yoga Mat or a rubber yoga mat.

Most of the premium Eco Yoga Mats are at least 1/4 inch thick but firm enough for proper balance.  A top of the range yoga mat will provide the perfect combination of grip, balance, comfort and weight but, if you don’t want to spend so much there’s  plenty of Eco Friendly Yoga Mat choice at much lower prices.

Search the Internet for the best eco yoga mat and when you find the yoga mat that suits you go to Amazon.com.Their prices are usually the best and the hundreds of customer reviews are great for helping to decide which eco yoga mat to buy.

If you prefer just go straight to Amazon.com and check out their best selling extra thick yoga mats

Eco Mat Yoga

How thick should a yoga mat be?

Photo supplied by http://www.flickr.com/photos/perfectoinsecto/ / CC BY 2.0. Thank you.

How long should a yoga mat be?

A short article helping you to find an eco yoga mat that suits you perfectly.

There isn’t a rule book for yoga mats.  No one will tell you that your yoga mat can only be so long and no longer.  It’s entirely up to you.

Standard yoga mats  are around 2 feet wide by 6 feet long but I’m nearly 6 feet tall and all too often my head used to end up on the floor rather than on my yoga mat.  If you’re fed up with this too then just buy yourself a longer yoga mat.

I’d be happy to guess that the standard 2 feet wide by 6 feet long yoga mat was designed for petite women and limited studio space. But yoga mats come in all sorts of shapes and sizes including eco yoga mats, so don’t be limited by this.

As a general rule I’d say choose an eco yoga mat that is at least a foot longer than your height.

There is virtually no limit to how long your yoga mat should be as you can buy a full roll of yoga mat material and cut your own length of yoga mat.  But, up to 7 feet long and 3 feet wide is typical for longer eco yoga mats.

If you are looking for a yoga mat for partner yoga it is possible to buy 6 feet square, or even round mats.

The combination of grip, comfort and firmness needed in a yoga mat is almost unique, and yoga mats are designed with this in mind.  So, don’t be tempted to buy a general exercise mat for yoga.

I would also suggest you avoid PVC mats as the chemicals used in manufacture can damage your health.  See our other articles for more detail on this but eco yoga mats have all the advantages of standard yoga mats with none of the disadvantages.  Buy an eco mat – yoga is all about your health.

Check out Amazon’s top ten best selling long eco yoga mats

Eco Mat Yoga

One size doesn't fit all!

The photo’s from http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnseb/ / CC BY 2.0

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!