Some types of yoga mats may be bad for you depending on the materials they are made of and how they are manufactured. Yoga mats made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride), PU (polyurethane), and TPE (thermoplastic elastomer) have been linked to health and environmental concerns. Additionally, all of these types of yoga mats are not biodegradable and can take hundreds of years to decompose in a landfill. Not a great foundation for finding your balance!
However, not all yoga mats are bad for you. Mats made of natural materials such as natural rubber, cork or jute, are more sustainable and eco-friendly options. These materials are biodegradable and can be recycled and can be considered as safe for use.
It is always recommended to research the brand and the materials used before purchasing a yoga mat. Unfortunately many yoga mat brands make false or misleading claims about the environmental or health benefits of their products. They may claim that their mats are eco-friendly or made of natural materials, when in fact they are not. It is important for consumers to be aware of these false or misleading claims and to research the materials and manufacturing process of the yoga mat brands they are considering purchasing from. It is important to look for certifications such as B Corp, which looks at the business holistically as well as the claims made about the products.
PU Yoga Mats
PU (polyurethane) yoga mats are made of a type of plastic that can off-gas chemical fumes, which can be harmful to breathe in. Additionally, PU mats are not as eco-friendly as natural rubber or cork mats because they are not biodegradable and can take hundreds of years to decompose in a landfill. It is important to note that not all PU yoga mats are equally bad, some manufacturers may use low-emitting PU which reduces the off-gasing problem, and others may have a recycle program for the mats.
TPE Yoga Mats
TPE (thermoplastic elastomer) yoga mats are made of a synthetic rubber-like material that is often marketed as being eco-friendly and non-toxic. However, TPE is a type of plastic and, like other plastics, it is not biodegradable, which means it can take hundreds of years to decompose in a landfill. Additionally, TPE mats are not as durable as natural rubber mats, and they can wear out faster and need to be replaced more frequently.
Some concerns have also been raised about the potential health risks of TPE mats, as they can contain phthalates, which are chemicals used to make the mat more flexible, but can be harmful to human health if ingested or inhaled. However, not all TPE mats contain phthalates and some manufacturers may use phthalate-free alternatives.
PVC Yoga Mats
PVC (polyvinyl chloride) yoga mats are made of a type of plastic that has been linked to a number of health and environmental concerns. PVC is a known carcinogen (substance that can cause cancer) and has been linked to a number of health problems, including respiratory problems, allergies, and developmental issues.
One of the main concerns with PVC yoga mats is that they can release toxic chemicals, called VOCs (volatile organic compounds), into the air. These chemicals can be harmful to breathe in and have been linked to a number of health problems, such as headaches, dizziness, and respiratory issues. Additionally, when PVC mats are produced, the manufacturing process releases harmful chemicals into the environment.
Another concern is that PVC is a type of plastic that is not biodegradable and can take hundreds of years to decompose in a landfill. It is also difficult to recycle, and therefore it ends up in landfills or the ocean, where it can be harmful to the environment.
Finally, PVC mats are not as durable as other types of yoga mats, such as natural rubber or cork, so they may need to be replaced more frequently, which contributes to the environmental impact.
Why are phthalates bad for you?
Phthalates are a group of chemicals that are commonly used to make plastics more flexible and durable. They are found in a wide range of consumer products, including toys, food packaging, and personal care products.Phthalates have been linked to a number of health concerns. They can disrupt the endocrine system, which controls hormones in the body, and have been linked to reproductive and developmental problems. Studies have shown that exposure to high levels of phthalates can cause decreased sperm count and testicular damage in men, and birth defects in the male reproductive system of experimental animals. It has also been linked to asthma, allergies, and other respiratory problems.Phthalates can also be harmful when ingested, as they can leach out of food packaging and into food and drinks. Studies have shown that people with higher levels of phthalates in their bodies have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, obesity and other metabolic disorders.It is important to note that the effects of phthalates on human health depend on the type of phthalates, the amount of exposure, and the duration of exposure. Therefore, it is not possible to say that all phthalates have the same effects on health. Also, there are regulations in place to limit the levels of phthalates in consumer products, such as toys and personal care products, to minimise the risk of exposure.
The best material for a yoga mat depends on the individual's preferences and priorities. Some people may prefer a certain type of material based on its level of grip, thickness, durability, or eco-friendliness.
At Luxya we consider natural rubber to be the best materials for yoga mats. Natural rubber is biodegradable and eco-friendly, it has a good grip, it is durable and provides good cushioning. Additionally, it is a sustainable option as rubber trees are renewable resources.
Ultimately, the best material for a yoga mat is the one that meets your personal preferences and priorities, and the one that is made of sustainable and non-toxic materials. By being conscious consumers, we can help to reduce the environmental impact of our yoga practice, and contribute to a sustainable future.