These Eco-Friendly Yoga Mats Are Good for the Earth and Your Practice

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Buying an eco-friendly yoga mat means you don't have to worry about chemicals during chaturunga.
Image Credit: Mireya Acierto/DigitalVision/GettyImages

No one wants to be thinking about what chemical additives are underneath their hands and feet during Downward Dog. Fortunately, more and more companies are producing eco-friendly yoga mats and natural yoga mat cleaners.

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When you have a mat that's free of dangerous chemicals and made with eco-friendly processes or more sustainable materials — like all-natural rubber and jute — you don't have to sacrifice good grip quality in your efforts to be gentler on Mother Earth. Here are five options to consider.

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1. Manduka eKO Lite Yoga Mat

This Manduka yoga mat comes in some beautiful colorways.
  • Material:​ natural tree rubber
  • Dimensions:​ 71" x 24"
  • Thickness:​ 4 mm

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Made from biodegradable, non-Amazon-harvested, natural tree rubber, Manduka's eKO lite yoga mat offers some serious grip, even in the midst of your sweatiest Bikram classes. The rippled surface texture feels and acts like the ridges of your hands to prevent slipping and sliding. Plus, Manduka also carries a line of sweet-smelling natural yoga mat cleaners.

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Buy it:Manduka.com; ​Price:​ $80

2. Gaiam Jute Yoga Mat

Jute may feel a little different, but it's much better for the environment.
  • Material:​ jute
  • Dimensions:​ 68" x 24"
  • Thickness:​ 5 mm

Gaiam's Jute Yoga Mat mixes environmentally friendly polymer resin with jute (a vegetable-based fiber). While the jute creates a bit of a different feeling on your hands than traditional rubber mats, the no-slip properties remain. Plus, the rubber portion provides the comfort and support that's missing from an all-jute mat.

Buy it:MukhaYoga.com; ​​Price:​ $39.50

3. Jade Yoga 34Harmony Mat

A portion of the sale of these mats from Jade go to support some really good causes.
  • Material:​ natural tree rubber
  • Dimensions:​ 68" x 24"
  • Thickness:​ 4.7 mm

While all of Jade's yoga mats are made from all-natural rubber and are PVC-free, their mats take altruism one step further by donating $5 from each sale of teal mat purchased to ovarian cancer charities, $5 from each saffron mat to Autism causes and $5 for every pink mat to breast cancer charities.

For those who value companies who give back to the environment, Jade plants a tree for every one of their mats sold through their partnership with Trees for the Future. They've planted more than two million trees so far!

Buy it:JadeYoga.com; ​Price:​ $79.95

4. Prana E.C.O. Yoga Mat

When you wear out this eco-friendly yoga mat, you can recycle it!
  • Material:​ thermoplastic elastomer (TPE)
  • Dimensions:​ 72" x 24"
  • Thickness:​ 5 mm

The E.C.O. mat, which stands for "Earth Conscious Offering," is a result of Prana's toxin-free manufacturing process. This product is free of PVC, chloride and latex. So when it's time to get a new mat, you can recycle this one.

The underside of the mat stays put on smooth, hard surfaces, while the top offers a no-slip grip and won't allow germs from your sweat to absorb into the mat.

Buy it:Prana.com; ​Price:​ $48

5. Yohola Yoga Cork Mat

No matter how sweaty you get, you won't slip on this eco-friendly yoga mat from Yohola.
  • Material:​ cork
  • Dimensions:​ 72" x 26"
  • Thickness:​ 6 mm

Promoting and providing sustainable products is a big part of Yohola as a company — the brand even ships products in 100-percent recycled paper and cardboard, according to the Yohola site. Yoloha mats are made of sustainably produced cork and recycled rubber.

But these mats aren't just good for the environment, they're great for your practice, too. Thanks to the materials used, the more you sweat, the better your grip will be. Plus, cork naturally deters bacteria and germs, and the foam on the underside of the mat won't absorb moisture.

Buy it:YoholaYoga.com; ​Price:​ $119

Natural Yoga Mat Cleaners We Love

  • Mind Over Lather 100% Natural Yoga Mat Cleaning Spray ($10; Amazon.com)
  • Manduka Organic Yoga Mat Cleaner ($14; Amazon.com)
  • Jade Plant-Based Mat Wash ($7.95; JadeYoga.com)
  • ASUTRA Natural & Organic Yoga Mat Cleaner ($12.99; Amazon.com)

What to Look for in a Yoga Mat

If you're shopping for a yoga mat in the store, ask if you can try a few poses on a test mat. If you're shopping online, be sure to read some of the reviews — some of the best and some of the not-so-great. Here's specifically what to look for:

Thickness

Most yogis practice yoga barefoot, and with all the standing and inverted poses in a traditional class, a thick, cushy yoga mat can make asanas more comfortable.

If you'll be practicing on your carpeted living room floor, you might be able to get away with a thinner mat (2 to 3 millimeters). But if you'll be practicing on concrete, hardwood or another hard surface, you'll want to look for a mat that's 5 to 6 millimeters thick.

Texture and Grip

Because of the variety of stances and positions you'll find yourself in during yoga, you'll want to make sure your mat's surface is textured enough that you're not slipping and sliding all over the place. And on the flip side, you'll want to make sure your mat stick to the floor.

This is especially important if you're in a super-sweaty class like hot or power yoga. Most yoga mats now mention their textured surface in online descriptions, but you can also check for one. Usually that means a soft, foamy first layer with a rubbery or woven top layer.

If you discover the mat you purchased doesn't quite keep you in place, don't panic! Throw down a yoga towel (or even a regular bath towel) to add some resistance between your hands and feet and the mat.

Dimensions

A standard yoga mat measures 24 inches wide by 68 inches long. For many people, that's plenty of space to move around. But if you're taller than 6 feet or you simply want more room to practice on, you'll want to look for a wider and/or longer mat.

Some companies — like Yohola and Jade — offer mats that are either 26 or 28 inches wide. And others provide a variety of lengths, ranging from 71 to 85 inches. Extra-large yoga mats generally cost a bit more than standard yoga mats, but make yoga much more enjoyable when you're not hanging off your mat.

Material

Traditionally, Westernized yoga mats have been made from PVC (vinyl). But as explained above, many companies are now using more earth-friendly material like natural or recycled rubber, jute and natural or organic cotton.

The material you chose is largely up to your personal preference. But of course, you should also take into consideration any allergies or skin sensitivities you have — not just for your yoga mat but your yoga mat cleaner as well.

Click below to pin these eco-friendly mats and save them for later!

These five high-quality mats are free of dangerous chemicals and made with more sustainable materials.
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com Creative

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