A good yoga mat is the cornerstone of a good yoga practice. In fact, the mat you’re using can completely transform your experience.
Many of us practising yoga are also concerned about the impact of our actions and choices on the environment – but searching for a sustainable yoga mat that would also fulfil all our needs and expectations can feel like a challenge.
To help you find the right mat for your yoga practise, we’ve created this guide, explaining what to watch out for and which brands to consider.
What makes yoga mats unsustainable?
Many of the yoga mats you’ll find at sports equipment stores or most yoga gear shops are made from plastic – specifically, PVC, which has been dubbed the most polluting plastic in the world by Greenpeace. It can’t be recycled and releases toxins into the environment both during manufacturing and after disposal.
The PVC used to manufacture these mats is also treated with phthalates, to make it soft and pliable. Phthalates have a variety of negative effects on both the environment and your health, affecting both humans and wildlife.
Long story short, conventional yoga mats are terrible for the environment – searching for a better alternative is a very good idea.
Sustainable material alternatives
If not using PVC, which materials can be used to make a sustainable yoga mat?
Some brands opt for sustainably harvested rubber. This material is naturally biodegradable and comes from a renewable resource (the sap of a rubber tree), while also durable. Other brands choose to use cork instead – another natural, biodegradable material. Cork can also be recycled and is naturally antibacterial.
Natural rubber and cork provide an experience very close to the conventional yoga mat, if not better. What’s more both materials can be sourced without cutting down trees, as they are periodically regenerated.
Other alternatives incorporate natural fabrics such as jute or organic cotton into the mix. These mats are an excellent travel option, as they’re lighter than the other alternatives.
Top 3 most sustainable yoga mat brands
We’ve selected our favourites based on the materials used, the lifespan of the mat and circularity, as well as the experience the mat provides during your practise. If we’ve missed your favourite sustainable yoga mat brand, let us and others know in the comments!
Made from natural rubber, with alignment guides that are etched rather than painted and bonded together with heat instead of toxic glue, the Liforme mat is a go-to for many yogis. The thin mat is also wider and longer than a conventional mat and provides a great grip.
Yoloha offers a variety of sizes of cork yoga mats, for both kids and adults. Aside from the mats themselves being non-toxic and free from any latex, PVC’s and plasticizers, they also come in minimal recycled cardboard packaging.
If you’re looking for a different experience than a rubber or cork mat, or are often on the go, Yogasana creates its sustainable yoga mat using organic cotton. Their mats are made by hand to last for years to come, following traditional practices.
The first closed loop yoga mat
HejHej brand is the first closed-loop yoga brand. Their mats are produced from a recycled material and are 100 recyclable, which makes it a zero waste yoga mat. It is produced locally in Germany with a cooperation with workplaces for people with disabilities. They have good grip and don’t absorb moisture. At the end of its useful cycle you can ship it back with a carbon neutral shipping to remake it into a new HejHej mat with nothing ending on the landfill.
Here, at Breathe and Live Yoga School we decided to go with the HejHej mats, because we support circular design, but we equally love the other brands too! What is your sustainable yoga mat choice?