I hung onto it for as long as I could, but it was time. Holes grew bigger and pieces of mat fell to the ground when I rolled my mat after each practice. I knew it was time to say goodbye. With this being my third mat, in three years, I was tormented to think about buying another that I would use and abuse for a year before having to recycle it or (gasp) throw it out.
The Search for the Best Eco-Friendly Yoga Mat
So I started doing my research for the best eco-friendly yoga mat out there. My criteria included the following:
- No PVC or Synthetic Rubber
- Free from harmful dyes and chemicals
- 100% Biodegradable
- Durable (i.e. will last me for years to come)
- Slip Resistant
In other words, I wasn't ready to completely sacrifice performance but I also wanted to ensure that when I was in child's pose breathing deeply, I wasn't inhaling synthetic chemicals nor filling up landfills when my new mat was at its life's end.
I spent some time seeking out who was the best of the best - I spoke with my yoga instructors, I spoke with my friends and I rummaged through the internets for reviews and opinions. I heard about Jade Mats, Barefoot Yoga, Hugger Mugger, Lululemon, Gaiam and of course, Manduka. I made a makeshift matrix and compared them based on the traits above and ranked them (putting my MBA to good use). Manduka came out ahead on all counts and so, Manduka it was.
Manduka's eKO Mat(s) Review
Well, I've fallen in love with Manduka's eKO Mats. I picked up the 71" eKO mat with seagrass texture (no slipping here) from the Manduka Shop. It's sturdy, it's sticky and I feel like a warrior when I use it. The one thing I heard about the natural rubber mat was a lot of complaints about the rubber smell that comes from the mat's material. I have a nose like a hound dog, and I tell you, while I can tell it smells like rubber, it is not as strong as the claims I read on different forums. I have no problem with the rubber smell, especially given that other mats made with synthetic/toxic chemicals and plasticizers are actually doing damage to your body.
The mats are made from non-Amazon harvested tree rubber and are sans toxic chemicals of any sort. No glues, no harmful dyes, no foaming agents. Oh, and it will decompose naturally in a landfill (but that also means you shouldn't leave it out in the elements for too long). Below you can see the texture of the mat, preventing any slippage and keeping you stable even when you're sweating out.
You can shop the Manduka eKO mat from their website for $76 USD in a variety of colours.
Manduka's eKO Superlite Folding Travel Mat
As wonderful as the eKO mat is, it's not the most convenient travel mat (at 7 lbs, it's a little heavy and takes up a whole lot of room). Given that I travel more often than I stay in one place, the Manduka eKO Superlite travel mat is perfect to ensure you can get your practice on anytime, anywhere. It folds into the size of a medium textbook and weighs about 2 lbs. Throw it down in your hotelroom, or on top of a studio mat (to bump up the comfort).
Eco-friendly and biodegradable, this little mat will save you on those long haul flights and everywhere in between. It's closed cell surface means no flaking mats and it will be difficult to stretch it out of shape. Since it is super thin, I've tended to throw it on the carpet (or if I'm at a studio when I'm traveling, over one of their studio mats) in order to keep things cushy, but if it's not available, you can still have a wonderful practice without any slipping just about anywhere.
Shop the Manduka eKO Superlite Travel Mat for $40 - at that price, it's hard to argue with not owning one.
Eco-Friendly Yoga Mat Cleaner - Blissoma Solutions Yoga Mat Cleansing Spray
OK, so we have our eco-friendly yoga mats, but what about keeping them clean, naturally? I'm a big fan of Blissoma Solution's Mat Cleaner. With lavender and frankincense, you could almost have an aromatherapy session while cleaning your mat. With just a light spray, and a clean wipe down you rid your mat of dirt, sweat and odor. The Soapbark is the magical ingredient in this one, loosening dirt and grime, while the tea tree oil is anti-microbial (bye bye germs). The formula is so natural that you can actually use it as a hand and foot cleanser too - no need for any alcohol-based hand sanitizer when you have your natural mat cleanser in tow.
I pack this spray in my yoga bag and have never had a leakage problem. It is in a solid brushed metal bottle so it's no victim when I drop my bag on the studio floor. You can pick a 4 oz bottle up for $10 USD online at Blissoma or on Amazon.
Namaste LPN'ers & Happy Canada Day to my Canadian Compadres!