This is the unfortunate downside to natural rubber and well, not so natural, kinda eco-friendly TPE mats; the sun will break down the materials more quickly resulting in flaking. We all know how I love that. So, on a somewhat impulse buy (argh, I'm slowly getting that word out of my life), I stopped by at the lovely Bhavana Yoga Boutique and purchased a Halfmoon Hot Yoga Rug. This yoga "rug" is made from 100% cotton, in India, distributed by Canadian company Halfmoon and was only 30.00$. Almost immediately after I bought the mat I had the following eco-guilt moments running through my brain:
- Ugh, it's made in India- NOT in Canada. I wonder if it's responsibly created? That's kinda far to ship, all those fossil fuels just to get this mat here! Yuck.
- 100% cotton, NOT organic cotton. Non-organic cotton is a HUGE contributor to the CO2 clogging up our atmosphere. So much environmental pollution goes into cotton processing. I can't believe they don't offer this mat in organic cotton.
- the colours are SO pretty... but obviously made with chemically dyes. I wonder if it will "bleed" in the washer when I wash it? Ew, all those chemicals going into the Halifax sewer system (which will just overflow into the harbour since it's broken). Poor fishies sipping my mat's chemical soup.
- I should have waited and ordered a more eco-friendly Jute mat online.
So obviously this is the annoying danger that can occur if you start reading more about the intricacies of the environment... eco-guilt. My thoughts (which I kept silent, recognizing they were a bit too Eco-Crazy) are what I don't want to become: some over the top, I am THE greenest, Eco-phile in the ENTIRE WORLD.
So I kept the mat.
While at my parent's cottage I got the chance to try out my fun new mat while practicing yoga on the dock. I only brought my cotton mat so I wouldn't be tempted to cave and use my nice rubber mat and rolled it out next to Andrew's on the dock. After about one downward dog I realized that there was a reason why yogis loved these rugs for "hot" yoga- the more you sweat the more it will stick. So, I cupped my hands and dumped about four handfuls of lake water all over my mat. There. Much better.
Final verdict: Although not as sticky as my rubber mat, the hot yoga rug did do just fine once it was wet. I felt much more connected to the Earth (as the mat is thinner) and switching to Andrew's TPE mat felt weird and cushy. Almost like my practice had changed to something less natural and more "apart" from what yoga means to me. Something contrived.
I really didn't get the same comfort and ease in getting in and out of the postures, however, and had to work a LOT harder on not slipping in poses like Downward Dog. I felt myself wishing for something like soccer cleats on my fingers to keep my hands in place (weird image, I know).
Also- I didn't think and rolled up my cotton mat immediately after practice. This weekend it was still damp... EW. I need to let it air dry... and maybe wash it in the washing machine.
Another option for a natural fiber mat is Jute. I have never tried a Jute mat, but assume that it would be somewhat similar to my hot yoga mat experience. The cool thing about Jute (how DO you say it anyways?) is that it's a naturally pest resistant plant, so no pesticides are necessary in growing and harvesting it! It's also completely biodegradable (as it's a plant) and renewable. I can't seem to find any good information on whether or not it's sustainably harvested (think bamboo drama with cutting down rainforests to grow bamboo). According to Wiki, India is the largest harvest-or of Jute at 2 140 000 tonnes as of June 2008 and women and children mostly do the processing. I'm assuming that issues of Fair Trade and safe labour most likely come into play in this situation as well.
Barefoot Yoga Company has a rubber and jute yoga mat mix- which looks fantastically cool. This mat combines the sticky of rubber and the sustainability of jute to create a theoretically sustainable mat. I say theoretically because adding the rubber also adds the question of whether the sun will naturally begin to break down the rubber. Finding reviews of Jute mats are difficult, most likely because they aren't as popular with yogi/nis. In any case, this mat would be my best bet on a Jute mat, however I WILL resist my societal brainwashed urge to consume :)
Have any of you eco-yogi/ni's used or do use a Jute/Cotton mat? What do you think?
authored by Eco Yogini at ecoyogini.blogspot.com