The Best Non Toxic Yoga Mat Guide for Health-Conscious Yogis
Looking for a non-toxic yoga mat for a healthy and conscious practice? Keep reading for our guide on the best yoga mats on the market right now.
Choosing a yoga mat can be a process and with so many materials, fabrics, colors, designs and environmental issues to consider, the process can get a little overwhelming. Sadly most of the cheap yoga mats on the market today actually contain toxic plastics, heavy metals and chemical dyes that are really bad for our health.
Due to the recent explosion of yoga into mainstream wellness in the United States, Europe and all over the world, the demand for and production of standard yoga mats has intensified. This demand has resulted in the production of cheap, synthetic rubber mats that contain a host of chemicals and plastics.
Choosing the right non-toxic yoga mat is crucial to your yoga practice and your health. In this guide, you’ll find everything you need to know about the toxic materials to avoid, the materials to look out for, the benefits of getting non-toxic mats and of course the best yoga mats on the market right now that are sustainable, eco-friendly and non-toxic.
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The Benefits of a Non-Toxic Yoga Mat
Most yoga mats nowadays, the cheap ones especially, are produced using cheap and readily available materials. One of the most used of these materials is PVC which is also the most toxic plastic in the world. Sadly most yoga mats today contain PVC, TPE and other toxic chemicals. This doesn’t mean good things for your health.
When we practise yoga our bodies come into close proximity with our mat, leading to a transfer of those toxic chemicals, metal dyes and plastics into our bodies and our health pays the price.
For these reasons, it’s actually really important to make the right decision when choosing a yoga mat because toxin build up in our bodies is the last thing we want when we practise yoga. When investing in a non-toxic yoga mat its our wallet that pays the price at first but our health benefits and not the other way round.
Not only that, in today’s world there’s the environment to think about too. We know plastic is bad for the environment and cheap production of anything degrades our planet further. When investing in a non-toxic yoga mat you’re also promoting healthy production practises that don’t have negative effects on the environment.
Which Non-Toxic Material to Look For
There are four popular materials on the market today which natural, non-toxic yoga mats are made from; organic cotton, natural rubber without TPE, cork and jute. These are all-natural and sustainable materials.
If you see any of these materials when looking to upgrade to a non-toxic yoga mat you should look into them a little more. Sometimes, however, some of these mats do have TPE or PVC that’s disguised under the other natural material it contains. Make sure to always read the labels and the fine print. Sometimes what looks like it might be toxin-free is actually quite toxic indeed.
Cotton is a natural fiber which, when grown organically is free from chemical fertilisers and toxic chemicals making it a really great material alternative for a yoga mat. It’s also naturally biodegradable and can easily be recycled for other purposes later.
However given that cotton is a natural fiber that’s woven, it doesn’t have the same durability as perhaps natural rubber. This is why getting an organic cotton mat is perhaps better for those that do light yoga or are planning to use it for meditation or gentle stretching.
Cork is another great, durable and naturally slip-proof material making it great for use as a yoga mat. It’s also really environmentally friendly as it comes from a renewable tree resource. It’s also flexible- perfect for constant folding and unfolding. Cork mats are also great for absorbing sweat and staying non-slip in hot and wet environments.
Natural rubber is another great non-toxic material for yoga mats to look out for. Natural rubber is generally eco-friendly because the harvesting process doesn’t damage the tree or the ecosystem around it.
A natural rubber yoga mat feels soft and offers good cushioning. It’s also easy to clean. Natural rubber mats also offer a much better grip compared to jute or cotton for example which is good news for yoga instructors and heavy mat users.
The drawback with natural rubber is that it’s generally heavy and bulky so this is not the yoga mat to buy for travel. Most natural yoga mats also contain latex which isn’t suitable for those with latex allergies.
It’s also worth noting that natural rubber has a strong rubber smell at the beginning, so when you unwrap it from its packaging this is something to be aware of. It’s just the smell of the natural rubber and nothing more and the smell does disappear within a few days or weeks of use.
Jute is a long, soft and shiny natural fibre that’s strung into thick, strong threads. It’s the same fiber used to make burlap cloth. It’s natural and sustainable as well as biodegradable just like cotton.
Jute yoga mats can feel a little rough and scratchy, just like a burlap sack, but it is durable, recyclable and sustainable. It has a good texture and gives good traction when used as a yoga mat.
Which Toxic Yoga Mat Materials to Avoid
If you’re on the market for a non-toxic yoga mat then there are some harmful chemicals you need to know of and avoid. The chemicals can have harmful effects on our health and are damaging to the environment.
PVC– PVC or Polyvinyl Chloride is a plastic that’s highly toxic. You may have used them in the 90s as an alternative to leather, and on yoga mats but this plastic is harmful to the body. Companies use it because it’s cheap, durable and has a sticky quality but a PVC yoga mat is really not what you want for your health and practise.
TPE– Thermoplastic elastomers. There are not as harmful or toxic as PVC but it’s still a plastic and synthetic material. For this reason, it’s not as eco-friendly or green as natural materials like natural rubber.
PER – PER stands for Polymer Environmental Resin and its basically PVC with one more processing step added to it. Due to this extra step this material is less toxic than PVC but nonetheless toxic. It’s also not great for the environment. Avoid!
EVA – Ethylene vinyl acetate is yet another plastic that’s toxic, bad for the environment and to make matters worse- this one smells bad too.
Which Non-Toxic Yoga Mat is Right for You?
If you’re wondering which yoga mat material to go for and which one is right for you, you might need to consider a few different factors such as your yoga practice style and what you plan to be doing on the mat, the grip and durability you need, the thickness you prefer as well as it’s portability. Let’s talk about a few of these factors:
When looking at investing in a brand new mat, because let’s face it- it is an investment in your own health, you need to think about your yoga style and what you intend on doing on the mat. If you flow for an hour per day, every day doing all kinds of complex flows and poses you’ll need to opt for a more durable one, a natural rubber or cork mat to withstand all the movement.
Alternatively, if you use the mat for light, hatha yoga or mediation you might be better off with an organic cotton mat instead.
Another thing to consider is how much grip you need from a mat. Again, if you’re doing advanced poses like handstands you need a non-slip mat to support that. Alternatively if you sweat a lot when you move, a good non-slip mat with good grip is a must.
You’ll need to think about the surface on which you place your mat too. If you normally flow on hardwood floors for example you need a mat that provides good underside grip.
If you move around a lot with a yoga mat i.e. from studio to studio or from one country to the next then you need to look at factors related to portability. Make sure to check the measurements of the mat and go for a lighter less bulky material like cork or cotton.
Cushioning is super important for a comfortable practise. I mean, no one wants achey knees and joints after every flow. If you are someone who suffers from achey knees when your yoga mat is too thin- I know I do – make sure to look at mat thickness that’s thick and cushioned enough to give you the support you need. I personally always get mats that are 5mm thick, if they aren’t for travel.
Again this is related more with your yoga style and habits. If you’re someone who takes to the mat daily then you’ll need something really durable. If you’re looking for something for occasional use, perhaps this isn’t so much of a factor for you.
The Best Non-Toxic Yoga Mats
Jade Yoga- Jade Harmony Yoga Mat
This yoga mat is easily one of the best and most popular non toxic yoga mats and for good reason. Available in seven colours from black to Tibetan Orange, this high quality yoga mat provides some of the best grip out there without using any chemicals or harmful materials.
The Jade Yoga Harmony Yoga Mat is made with natural rubber which actually has a much stronger grip than any of its synthetic counterparts on the market that contain PVC, PER, TPE etc. It’s a mat that’s 3/16″ providing outstanding cushioning and stability.
It’s also made in the US making the materials and the production process easily to trace and regulate. The brand is also super sustainable, and gives back to the earth with every product sold. Personally, this is my top pick and I 100% stand behind this brand and yoga mat. The Jade Yoga mat is also available in many other sizes, thicknesses and colours. There’s even a travel one too.
- Thick, good stability and cushioning
- Made from natural, good quality rubber
- Zero toxic materials or chemicals
- Available in different sizes
- It’s a little costly
- Not the lightest mat you’ll find on the market
Live Well 360 Handmade Organic Cotton Yoga Mat
Another brilliant pick if you’re looking to upgrade your practise onto a non-toxic yoga mat, this Live Well 360 is more of a yoga rug than a mat. Made with 100% organic cotton and nothing more, it’s one of the best eco-friendly and sustainable options out there.
This cotton yoga mat is breathable and light and feels great on the skin whether you’re meditating or flowing. It’s hand-woven in India and the brand is committed to creating jobs in less fortunate regions of the country. This toxic yoga mat contains no PVC, plastics, TPE etc so you can rest assured your practise is sustainable and eco- friendly.
- Great for use on carpet or soft surfaces
- No harsh chemicals like rubber or nylon
- Machine washable
- On the pricey side
- It doesn’t have the best grip for wooden floors or hard surfaces
Satori Concept- Cork Yoga Mat
Probably my personal favourite cork non toxic yoga mat, this great option from Satori Concept brilliantly combines natural rubber on it’s underside, with natural, sweat-resistant cork on the upper side. The result is a beautiful, eco-friendly yoga mat that’s not only sustainable and non-toxic but also naturally sweat resistant and non-slip. It’s perfect for hot yoga or anyone who sweats a lot during practise or while working out.
With an ideal thickness of 4mm and at 2.5kg/5.5lbs it’s the perfect ratio of weight to thickness making it light yet comfortable. There are no toxic chemicals used here; no PVCs, TPEs, silicone, phthalates or toxic glues. All-in-all a great choice.
- Completely non-toxic materials used
- Thick and comfortable
- Great for hot yoga
- Non-slip and durable
- Available in four different designs
- Hand wash only
- On the expensive side
Tiggar Yoga Natural Yoga Mat
Made with natural tree rubber, this is a great non-toxic yoga mat option that’s a little more budget friendly. The natural rubber provided a great non-slip surface to flow even when a little sweaty. At 4mm thick it also provides great cushioning for those poses that need it. It also comes in many different colours and designs.
This yoga mat is free from any kinds of toxic chemicals and materials including foaming agents and AZO dyes. It’s also biodegradable when eventually you feel like upgrading.
- Available in many colours and designs
- Made with 100% natural tree rubber
- Free from all kinds of toxic materials and chemicals
- Has a strong smell when first unpacked (all natural rubber does) but that’s easily ventilated.
AJNA Organic Jute Yoga Mat
Made with organic jute, another great non-toxic yoga mat material, this mat scores a 4.6 stars on Amazon out of almost 2,000 reviews. With a super textured underside to ensure the mat stays firmly on the floor and a jute practise side that doesn’t degrade or shed, this is a great option for anyone looking to upgrade their mat.
Made from organic jute- natural fibres that repel smells and sweat stains this mat is also lightweight, durable and a 5mm thick it’s super comfortable in any pose.
- Organic, non-toxic materials
- Durable, thick and lightweight
- Brilliant reviews
- Hand wash only
Manduka EKO Series – Superlite Yoga Travel Mat
The Manduka EKO Series, is one of the best series offering natural rubber yoga mats for so many uses and styles. The series offers non-toxic natural rubber mats at all different thicknesses and colours depending on your practise.
As we are a wellness travel blog after all, I had to include at least one travel yoga mat and this is one of the best on the market. If you like to travel with your yoga mat or you go from one studio to another and need something super light but also durable and eco-friendly, this is it. Weighing just 1kg/2.2 lbs it’s super light and perfect for travel.
- One of the lightest non-toxic yoga mats on the market
- Perfect for travel
- Made from natural tree rubber
- Great grip and stability
- At only 1.5mm thick it might be too thin for many yogis
Yoga Design Lab Cork Yoga Mat
With a natural rubber underside and sustainable cork on the top, this is another top-notch rubber/cork alternative. The natural rubber base offers sustainable non-slip protection while the cork layer works to absorb extra sweat, providing a non-slip surface for you to flow on.
It’s available in three different styles and also 3 thicknesses- from 1.5mm to 5.5 mm so you can truly get the mat that meets your needs.
- Ideal for hotter climates and hot yoga
- Great non-slip, cushioned mat
- Made with 100% natural rubber and cork
Non-Toxic Yoga Mat Cleaning and Maintenance
Once you’ve bought your brand new non-toxic yoga mat you’ll need to clean it and care for it using the right methods and products to keep it non-toxic.
You’ll not want to use traditional, toxic cleaning products on your yoga mat as this will make it toxic and wear down the natural material over time. There are many great biodegradable, non-toxic cleaning sprays out there which are great to use. Tea tree oil and witch hazel are also great ways to disinfecting and removing stains from your yoga mat. You can also use biodegradable baby wipes and organic, non-toxic sprays on your yoga mat to keep it clean and fresh.
My favourite non toxic yoga mat cleaning products are:
Mind Over Lather Lavender Mint Mat Spray – A brilliant cleaner using only distilled water, witch hazel, tea tree and essential oils.
TreeActiv Yoga Mat Spray – nothing but tea tree, eucalyptus, peppermint and olive fruit oils with a touch of witch hazel
ASUTRA Organic Yoga Mat Cleaner – 100% natural and available in many different scent combinations. Definitely one of the most popular and highly rated options on Amazon. Comes with a microfiber cleaning towel.
There’s never been a better time to switch to a non-toxic yoga mat that’s sustainable and eco-friendly. With so many amazing options on the market right now, a non-toxic yoga mat could be on it’s way to you right now.
Which non toxic yoga mat will you be investing in? Let me know your comments and questions below, I’d love to hear from you.
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