Friday, January 2, 2009

Eco-Friendly Yoga Mats!

Ahh Balasana, or child's pose- so wonderful after 10 sun salutations... resting your head and breathing in the wonderful smell of chemicals... Ok, so my first mission into the foray of ecofying my yoga practice was to find an eco-alternative to my PVC yoga mat (which was donated to a local woman's transition house).

Due to the recent yoga "craze" erupting across Canada and the States thousands of PVC yoga mats are finding their way to the landfills; off-gassing with a virtually turtle-paced decomposing schedule. So begins the eco-mat saga:

#1: Lululemon Eco-Comfort
I bought this mat with high expectations: it cost around 50-60$ Canadian and is made from TPE (Thermal Plastic Elastomer) and contains no latex, PVC or rubber. A quick Wiki search and we find that most TPE's are made with a type of plastic or rubber.... although there's no clarification on the website. The friendly lulu worker at the store informed me that my mat would eventually breakdown in the landfill-WOOT!

I started using it right away- no nasty smell but it was extremely slippery. I was willing to sacrifice grip for the environment- sure I was! After about two months of use the mat was flaking off all over my yoga pants, the floor and even my hair. Ugly wear marks were appearing where my feet moved from Down Dog to Warriors I and II. So I brought it back- I guess I wasn't supposed to use this mat in the sun (now they have warnings on the labels of the mats) and it had begun to break down prematurely. Great- so now I would be sacrificing practicing in the beautiful outdoors to be a true eco-yogini. OK. FINE. The lulu worker offered a 50% discount on their next eco-mat which I bought and gave my current eco-mat to my Fiancé to use. He could deal with the blue flakes.

#2 Lululemon Eco Align Ultra Mat
This mat was immediately better- more grip and thinner! Within a month of use (out of the sun- sadly) mat #2 was a flaker too. Matching wear marks graced this one as well! Sigh, at this point I was just a little less zen than ideal. From talking with other lulu eco mat users the "flaker" is a common occurrance. Also- Lululemon had just recently sold the majority of their shares to a U.S. company and was no longer technically "Canadian".

My Conclusion on TPE: it definitely breaks down- but the environmental impacts of cycling through several yoga mats over my lifetime outweighs the decomp. benefits. Also, the Lululemon mats have poor grip and durability with a high price tag. And call me a nerd- but I just didn't want to join the Lulu gaggle of yoginis taking over the planet.

Rubber Yoga Mats
My final desperate attempt at ecofying my yoga mat was a Lotus Wear rubber mat. Lotus Wear is a Vancouver based company that manufactors AND consciously formulates their products in Canada (hah two for two Lulu!). The mat was between 49$ Canadian, so a comparable price and was nice and thin. 
Rubber is a renewable resource and a nice alternative to man-made substances such as TPE or plastic. Rubber is also easily recyclable and will biodegrade over time. However, it is also much more durable than say, TPE and has a longer lifespan. This mat doesn't use glue to bind both sides of the rubber together and claims 100% non-polluting during manufacturing. The catch- it recommended I air it our for 48 hrs before use. Riiight. Like I could wait that long!
Um... I really should have- after doing yoga for about 45 minutes I felt nauseous from the smell and had to take a couple advils when I got home. Point taken- airing out it is!

This mat had fantastic grip- I had magically become a yoga Goddess!!! The only time my hands or feet were gonna move were when I was sweating buckets trying to accomplish some ridiculous Power Yoga Flow class (go me!). I gave eco-mat #1 to a beginner yogini and #2 was passed along to the FiancĂ© (poor guy was getting all my yoga seconds!). 

This mat has lasted 8 months so far with only minimal wear- WOOT! The only negative: it actually took several months for the rubber smell to fade away with regular use. I wouldn't recommend this mat for anyone with sensitivities to smell. 

However, an alternative for those wanting a rubber mat without the smell- Manduka's "The Black Mat" the QUEEN of all yoga mats. Made from natural rubber with all above eco-benefits without the smell (this mat has a lifetime guarantee with certification to back-up their zero-emissions claims). Of course, this mat comes with a price: 85$ Canadian. According to several yoga teachers, the eco versions of the manduka mats (Halfmoon) have dye issues after use.

Finally my mat is now ecofied!


  1. Yay for the Black Mat! WOOT! It's so super fantastic!

  2. I know it's not always feasible, but I often try and do my standing poses directly on the floor. Really nice with a clean wood floor, but also fun outside (during the spring and summer--I'm in Wisconsin). I like the information I get through my feet...I feel more in touch. It's interesting to see how poses change depending on your surface (bumpy, grassy, etc), too.

    And...maybe not best of all, but certainly in the plus column, it's free!

    Welcome to the yoga blog neighborhood. I look forward to your future posts. Cheers!

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. Ahem - FYI: the Manduka Black Mat is made from PVC - NOT RUBBER !

  5. Hmm. That was a very strong statement Yoga Network.
    Regardless- thank you for pointing out my typo :) I was thinking of clarifying Manduka's black mat and natural-rubber mats.
    Topic for a future post.
    Comments and info are always welcome, it's how I learn :) However, they are best given with respect.

  6. Have you tried any at They seem to be the cheapest

  7. Hi, I'm a bit confused about rubber in the landfill. I know jade mats left in the sun and rubber bands disintegrate but underground I thought they sort of last forever. This is material since I distribute Manduka Mats, and I don't want to make any false claims. Any info you can share would be welcome.

  8. I'm surprised you are not reviewing or using a Halfmoon Hot Rug? These are the traditional yoga mat of India and get even more traction and grip as you start to sweat - so never any slippage. Plus they are all cotton so no mystery as to what you are breathing in during your deep practice. Halfmoon is also 100% Canadian so you can feel good about supporting a small local business instead of some US corporation. Check them out:

  9. Anonymous: I have considered getting a Halfmoon Hot Rug, simply for my outside practice as my rubber mat (along with TPE mats) shouldn't be exposed to the sun... and are a pain to clean after practicing on grass!
    Unfortunately, a hot mat still works best with a regular yoga mat underneath for all those slippery, smooth yoga studio floors (and my apartment floor!).
    So really I'd only be buying it for outdoor yoga- which I haven't been able to justify... yet!
    But I am sorely tempted :)

  10. Lisa - not sure what I said to upset you but you need to make it VERY clear to your readers that the Manduka Black mat is NOT made from rubber as you say - nor can it be described as being ecological. It is just like any other platic mat.

    If you want to get the facts about PVC mats please feel free to email me.

    Hope this helps.

    with respect


  11. Mat: Actually it was the 'tone' of the comment that was quite...hmm... abrupt (re: caps...). I did actually clarify that to my readers in a later post (manduka black mat vs Eko) and I did thank you for pointing that out.

    With all the misleading information and greenwashing out these days it's tricky to stay informed.

    I assumed that my clarifying post would have satisfied your concerns. However, if you still feel strongly about this topic after having read that post, please feel free to comment and I'll adjust. :)

  12. You can also get an eco-friendly Yoga bag to match your eco-friendly Yoga mat.

    Yogoco Yoga bags are made from pre-consumer t-shirt scraps, and each bag saves 2lbs of land fill!

    Very stylish and highly functional you can read more at or

  13. Thank you for your reviews! I did much research before choosing my mats. I have a TPE that I'm quite happy with, I appreciate its closed cell and light weight to bring to classes or let friends use. The lotuspad mat that I got seems to be holding up better than the one you describe. No flaking and minimal wear after MUCH use! I also have a very heavy, less smelly, rubber mat that I keep at home. It is open cell so I keep it just for me. It is the Prana revolution and I am quite happy with it. It's the natural rival to Manduka "Queen".
    I respectfully agree with Yoga Network that it is important you clarify your post. As you said, it does take a lot of research to keep up and uncover the greenwashing. If I were to read your post I would be left with the impression that the Manduka mat is an ecological choice. Which it is not.
    Thank you! Stay bendy!

  14. I'm thinking of trying the Halfmoon rubber mat. Any opinion on this option? Do you know if there are big differences among the various rubber mats, eg, Jade, Halfmoon, Manduka eKO, the one you have, etc.

    What is your Facebook name so that I can Friend you! (I searched for Eco Yogini to no avail.) Or is Facebook only for your personal use?


I love hearing from you! So I don't miss a comment, I like "pre-approving" them :)
I ask only that we stay respectful.
Also, please note that this is a personal blog and not a space for advertising your company. I reserve the right to delete "advertising" comments.

**NB: The ANONYMOUS option is the BEST way to comment if you don't have a blogger or established google/gmail account.