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Natural Awakenings

Toxic Yoga Mats: Their Dirty Little Secret

Today’s yoga mats are soft and supportive, and come in colors to match any chakra. But conventional mats have a dirty secret. Typically made of vinyl or PVC, a petroleum-based, nonrenewable source, the mat will continue to give off gases throughout its existence.

Vinyl contains phthalates, or plasticizers, which have been linked to a host of health risks, including damage to the liver, lungs and reproductive system. Phthalates, which can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin, have been banned from some products by the European Union, but not by the United States or Canada.

Yoga students are grateful for new, healthy, eco-conscious alternatives now available by searching the Internet. Typing “eco yoga mats” into any search engine will reveal better material choices, such as polymer environmental resin, natural rubber, or blends containing natural fibers such as jute. These products are just as lightweight and durable and offer equal support and insulation. They are also free of phthalates and heavy metals. Being biodegradable, they’ll revert to their origins at the end of their lifecycle.


Sources: Environment.about.com; PVCFree.org; Grist.org

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