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Discover the best non-toxic yoga mats for a healthier practice and planet.
You know that chemical smell of new mat straight out of the box? That can’t be good for your deep pranayama breathing. But are there actually toxins in your yoga mat that could harm your health?
Yoga is an earthy, spiritual practice rooted in ancient Hindu and Buddhist traditions. But most people who practice yoga would be shocked to know just how many toxins and carcinogens (yes, cancer-causing chemicals) are hidden in modern yoga mats.
On the other hand, some yoga mats are not necessarily toxic, but they’re horrible for the environment. Polyurethane, foam, and plastic will be around forever and are difficult to recycle or reuse. Something has got to give!
Thankfully, as people are becoming more eco-conscious, there is a growing abundance of environmentally friendly and non-toxic yoga mats. Many of them are quite affordable and even more functional than standard toxin-laden mats.
This master guide includes our favorite non-toxic yoga mat brands, where to find them, and how to pick the best non-toxic yoga mat for your practice.
After all, if you’re going to be practicing on a mat every day, you want to be sure that it is safe for your health.
- 1 Quick Picks: 8 Most Eco-Friendly Yoga Mats
- 2 The Best Non-Toxic Yoga Mats, Compared
- 3 Are some yoga mats toxic?
- 3.1 VOCs, or Volatile Organic Compounds in Yoga Mats
- 3.2 The Problem with PVC in Yoga Mats
- 3.3 Phthalates, Hormone Disruption, and Hot Yoga Dangers
- 3.4 Polyester is Non-Toxic but Environmentally Damaging
- 3.5 Avoid the ‘Yoga Mat Chemical,’ azodicarbonamide
- 3.6 Are lululemon mats non-toxic?
- 3.7 Is Manduka yoga mat non toxic?
- 4 8 Best Eco-Friendly Yoga Mats
- 4.1 Brentwood Home Organic Yoga Mat
- 4.2 Liforme Cosmic Moon Yoga Mat
- 4.3 GURUS Sweat Proof Durable Cork Yoga Mat Thick Non Slip Exercise Mat for Home Workout (Cork Yoga Mat)
- 4.4 Handmade Organic Cotton Yoga Mat by Live Well 360 - Natural Yoga Mat - Exercise, Workout, & Fitness...
- 4.5 JadeYoga Harmony Yoga Mat- Durable & Thick Gym Fitness Mat, Non-Slip Natural Rubber Yoga Mat- Home...
- 4.6 Ajna Organic - Natural Jute- Large Non Slip Eco Friendly yoga mats with Carrying Strap - Reversible...
- 4.7 Manduka eKO Yoga Mat – For Women and Men, Strong, Durable, Non-Slip Grip, 5mm Thick, 71 Inch
- 4.8 Gaiam Cork Yoga Mat | Natural, sustainable cork print design stops odors | Non-toxic TPE Rubber…
- 5 The Environmental Impact of Yoga Mats
- 6 Exploring the Fusion of Yoga and Technology; Innovative Eco-Friendly Smart Mats
- 7 Key Takeaways: How to Find
- 8 FAQs
Quick Picks: 8 Most Eco-Friendly Yoga Mats
- Top Pick: Brentwood Home Organic Yoga Mat
- Best Stylish-Yet-Sustainable Mat: Liforme Cosmic Moon Yoga Mat
- Best Cork Yoga Mat: Gurus Roots Cork Yoga Mat
- Best Latex Free Option: Live Well 360 Organic Cotton Yoga Mat
- Best Natural Rubber Yoga Mat: JADE YOGA Harmony Yoga Mat
- Best Natural Jute Mat: Ajna Natural Jute Yoga Mat
- Best Biodegradable Mat: Manduka eKo Yoga Mat
- Budget Pick: Gaiam Cork Yoga Mat
The Best Non-Toxic Yoga Mats, Compared
Brentwood Home Organic Yoga Mat
|100% GOTS certified organic cotton upper + 100% FSC certified natural rubber latex lower
|71” x 24”
|See Latest Price
|Stylish Yet Sustainable
Liforme Cosmic Moon Yoga Mat
|Natural rubber base, felt middle, eco-polyurethane top, non-toxic ink
|73" x 27"
|See Latest Price
|Best Cork Yoga Mat
GURUS Sweat Proof Durable Cork Yoga Mat Thick Non Slip Exercise Mat for...
|100% cork upper + natural rubber lower layer
|75” x 25”
|See latest price
|Best Latex Free Option
Handmade Organic Cotton Yoga Mat by Live Well 360 - Natural Yoga Mat -...
|78” x 27”
|See latest price
|Best Natural Rubber Yoga Mat
JadeYoga Harmony Yoga Mat- Durable & Thick Gym Fitness Mat, Non-Slip...
|100% natural tree rubber
|68”, 71”, or 74” x 24”
|See latest price
|Best Natural Rubber Yoga Mat
Ajna Organic - Natural Jute- Large Non Slip Eco Friendly yoga mats with...
|72” x 25”
|See latest price
|Best Biodegradable Mat
Manduka eKO Yoga Mat - For Women and Men, Strong, Durable, Non Slip Grip
|100% pure natural rubber latex
|71” x 24”
|See latest price
Gaiam Cork Yoga Mat
|Cork and TPE
|68” x 24”
|See Latest Price
Are some yoga mats toxic?
Most yoga mats are made from synthetic rubber or plastics, which are predominately petroleum byproducts. They can be treated with a range of toxic chemicals such as VOCs, PVC, phthalates, artificial dyes, adhesives, flame retardants, antimicrobials, and heavy metals.
VOCs, or Volatile Organic Compounds in Yoga Mats
VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are breathable gases that can cause negative health impacts like headaches, nausea, allergies, brain and neurological issues, liver damage, and even fertility issues.
VOCs are found in furniture, paint, carpet, and yes, yoga mats. Research shows that indoor VOC concentrations can be up to 10 times higher than outdoors, meaning this pollutant could be filling your yoga studio or home yoga room without you even knowing it.
In yoga mats, VOCs are most commonly laced into antimicrobials, anti-static treatments, adhesives, colored dyes, and organophosphate flame retardants. They off-gas continuously throughout the life of the mat and may become even more problematic in hot yoga settings.
To make matters worse, VOCs are a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change and harms the environment. If this sounds like a major disruption to your pranayama breathing, it is!
Bottom Line: Choose certified VOC-free or low-VOC yoga mats by ensuring your mat is made from natural materials.
The Problem with PVC in Yoga Mats
While VOCs may be infused into a range of materials, the core composition of many yoga mats is polyvinyl chloride (PVC). This material is durable, lightweight, and easy to manipulate in a factory setting to make everything from yoga mats to flooring. But PVC contains a known carcinogen called vinyl chloride that we are directly exposed to when practicing yoga on a synthetic mat.
PVC is often marketed as synthetic latex. Some PVC mats are manufactured with lead, cadmium, chlorine, mercury, and other heavy metals. It takes a lot of chemicals to create a bendy, rollable mat out of rigid PVC.
Bottom line: PVC is a carcinogen. If you want to go the non-toxic route, avoid PVC yoga mats at all costs.
Phthalates, Hormone Disruption, and Hot Yoga Dangers
There is a surprising danger to hot yoga classes that most people need to pay more attention to. It’s not the temperature, the extreme flexibility, or the heavy breathing- it’s the potential cancer-causing chemicals leaching out from yoga mats under high heat conditions.
Phthalates are used in yoga mats to make them more pliable. They are linked to hormonal disruption, asthma, birth defects, and a range of other health problems). And under warm conditions, they tend to leach out, cling to dust particles, and get inhaled. While these plasticizers may make for an extra flexible, soft, and sticky yoga mat, they’re not worth potentially harming your health.
Many mats are advertised as “phthalate-free, ” but another caveat remains. They could be sneaking in another lesser-known plasticizer that could be equally harmful.
Bottom line: Avoid synthetic materials (PVC, TPE, synthetic rubber, etc.) most commonly laced with phthalates. Pay attention to greenwashing. Phthalate-free is a better option, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the brand is safe. And if you practice hot yoga or Bikram, be extra aware of what’s in your yoga mat.
Polyester is Non-Toxic but Environmentally Damaging
Recently, polyester has become a more popular alternative to PVC in yoga mats because it is safer for human health. While this is probably true, the problem with polyester is its energy-intensive production that generates large amounts of pollution. Making polyester releases significant amounts of carbon monoxide, acetaldehyde, and 1,4-dioxane into the atmosphere. It can also cause acids, iron, and ammonia runoff into nearby waterways.
Bottom Line: Polyester may be a better option for your health, but it is not environmentally friendly.
Avoid the ‘Yoga Mat Chemical,’ azodicarbonamide
Azodicarbonamide, or ADA, is a controversial chemical foaming agent that has been used in yoga mats to create that spongy, supportive texture. After being coined the “yoga mat chemical”, investigative journalism from the Environmental Working Group also uncovered that ADA is used as a food additive in over 500 food products with very little safety oversight from the FDA.
ADA is most commonly mixed with PVC, rubber, and polymer plastics in yoga mats and other household products to create tiny gas bubbles that create that malleable, lightweight feel. But when it’s heated (in a hot yoga class, for example), azodicarbonamide releases carcinogens like ethylcarbamate and immunosuppressing chemicals.
The World Health Organization has found that ADA is linked to asthma, respiratory issues, and irritation.
Bottom Line: Most synthetic yoga mats are at risk of containing ADA. While it is in the process of being banned in food products, it can still be imported in non-edible products. Avoid it by choosing natural materials.
Are lululemon mats non-toxic?
While we love lululemon’s incredible leggings and athleisure wear, their yoga mats have some questionable materials. Their classic “The Matt 5mm” comprises 55% Natural rubber, 23% Synthetic rubber, 15% Polyurethane, 5% Polyester, and 2% Nylon.
Here’s a safety breakdown of those materials:
- Natural rubber: Over half of Lulu’s mat composition is FSC-certified natural rubber, which is sustainable and comes from natural rubber trees (though it does contain latex). So, at least half of this mat is non-toxic and eco-friendly.
- Synthetic rubber: Artificial elastomers synthesized from petrochemicals byproducts may contain carcinogens like 1,3-butadiene and styrene.
- Polyurethane: There is some controversy in the industry about whether polyurethane is safe or not, but we do know that it contains probable carcinogens called isocyanates. Foam manufacturing is also very polluting and can pose some lung cancer risks to workers.
- Polyester: Non-toxic but environmentally harmful to produce.
- Nylon: Non-toxic but energy-intensive to produce.
Bottom Line: lululemon yoga mats are not the most toxic out there, but they’re not fully non-toxic either. You can buy much more non-toxic yoga mats like the Brentwood Home Organic Yoga Mat at a similar price.
Is Manduka yoga mat non toxic?
Manduka yoga mats are made with PVC but have been tested for harmful substances. The PRO Series is certified STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX®️ (12.HUS.17706 | Hohenstein HTTI), meaning they are purportedly sustainable and semi-non-toxic. These mats are 100% latex-free and synthetic, meaning they are not made from natural materials. Unfortunately, we don’t have an exact breakdown of what’s inside them.
However, Manduka does get sustainability points for their new mat recycling program, Live On, which lets you recycle your old mat for just $10 with any new mat purchase.
Bottom Line: Manduka probably offers the most sustainable PVC yoga mat. It is certified and third-party tested for toxins. But the materials are not natural.
8 Best Eco-Friendly Yoga Mats
Sustainable yoga mats don’t have to break the bank. Our top picks are all in similar price points to the most popular yoga brands, but they’re completely safe for your health and the environment.
Brentwood Home Organic Yoga Mat
This is one of the only 100% GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified organic cotton yoga mats with a 100% FSC-certified natural rubber latex base. Organic yoga mats are made with materials sourced directly from nature and grown without pesticides or synthetic chemicals.
This is the ultra-sustainable yoga mat of our dreams. It is entirely non-toxic, eco-friendly, and biodegradable when you’re done with it. There are no hidden materials: organic cotton on the top and natural rubber from trees on the bottom.
The mat is cushiony, non-slip, and super comfortable on tender joints. The latex lower portion stays still and grips the floor while adding extra support to your asanas. The upper cotton texture wicks away moisture and is easy to throw in the washing machine after a sweaty, hot yoga class.
Plus, it’s certified climate-neutral and Certified Vegan!
Best Stylish-Yet-Sustainable Mat:
Liforme Cosmic Moon Yoga Mat
Aside from the gorgeous, eye-popping colors of the Cosmic Moon model, we also loved how large and grippy this mat is.
Liforme is a certified B Corp that shares much of its profits with charities. They infuse sustainable manufacturing practices into every aspect of their product — even including the ink they use to make this our most stylish pick.
It comes with a custom, high-quality zipper pouch and strap for easy transport!
Best Cork Yoga Mat:
GURUS Sweat Proof Durable Cork Yoga Mat Thick Non Slip Exercise Mat for Home Workout (Cork Yoga Mat)See latest price
Of all the cork yoga mats on the market, Gurus stands out for their eco-friendliness, versatility, and stability. The brand is dedicated to chemical-free products and is partnered with Trees for the Future to ensure they give back. The cork and rubber are ethically sourced and completely free from any carcinogens in conventional toxic yoga mats. Natural cork comes from the cambium (outer bark) of cork oak trees, meaning they don’t need to be cut down to yield sustainable cork continuously.
The mat is versatile, with a naturally antimicrobial cork upper and a 100% natural rubber lower layer. Both sides can be used and easily wiped down.
At 5mm, the density is ultra-comfortable on your joints and rivals all the top competitors. It’s non-slip and excellent for Bikram and classic Vinyasa or Hatha classes. The cork gets more grippy when wet, so you don’t have to worry about sweating buckets on this mat.
Best Latex Free Option:
Handmade Organic Cotton Yoga Mat by Live Well 360 - Natural Yoga Mat - Exercise, Workout, & Fitness...See latest price
Whether allergic to synthetic latex or natural rubber, this latex-free option is allergy-friendly and soft. The Live Well mat is a 100% cotton rug explicitly designed for yoga.
It’s 78″ x 27″ in size and 4mm thick. At just 2 pounds, it’s super lightweight and portable. The material itself takes a bit of getting used to after using a regular yoga mat, but it is very comfortable and non-slip.
Long before synthetic yoga mats, rugs were the go-to for ancient yogis. These are much like the traditional Mysore yoga mats used in India by Ashtanga practitioners.
A note on natural rubber latex:
I have struggled my entire life with an intense latex allergy (like throat closing, asthma attack, full body rash, rush to the hospital type of allergy). However, I eventually discovered that I only had that reaction to synthetic latex in balloons, gloves, and, yes, toxic yoga mats (that wasn’t a fun yoga class…)
I discovered I wasn’t allergic when I experimented with natural rubber latex (with an EpiPen on hand). I now sleep on an organic latex mattress and use an organic latex yoga mat. My anecdotal experience tells me that I may be allergic to all those nasty chemicals in synthetic rubber and not the latex from natural rubber trees.
*This is not medical advice. Consult with your doctor if you have a rubber or latex allergy.
Best Natural Rubber Yoga Mat:
JadeYoga Harmony Yoga Mat- Durable & Thick Gym Fitness Mat, Non-Slip Natural Rubber Yoga Mat- Home...See latest price
JADE YOGA was the first in the yoga industry to come out with completely natural rubber yoga mats. This mat is made with 100% natural tree rubber and is free of toxins or synthetics. It has great grip and stability for every pose.
All Jade products are made in the USA and time-tested by brand devotees for decades. These mats last forever and feel so good on your joints.
We also love the eco-friendly mission of this brand. With Trees for the Future, Jade Yoga plants a tree for every product sold.
Best Natural Jute Mat:
Ajna Organic - Natural Jute- Large Non Slip Eco Friendly yoga mats with Carrying Strap - Reversible...See latest price
Unlike cork yoga mats, jute fibers (golden fiber) won’t flake or crack over time. This natural jute fiber mat is ultra sustainable, 100% natural, and naturally non-slip. It is made to repel sweat and absorb shock, so you have plenty of traction and comfort without risking exposure to harmful toxins.
This Australian woman-owned brand has an impressive ethos and a dedication to giving back by planting trees for each mat sold. They ensure all mats are free from latex, phthalates, heavy metals, and other toxins. Their mats are beautiful and include a 100% cotton carrying strap.
Best Biodegradable Mat:
Manduka eKO Yoga Mat – For Women and Men, Strong, Durable, Non-Slip Grip, 5mm Thick, 71 Inch
We’re glad big brands like Manduka have finally jumped on the bandwagon regarding eco-friendly yoga mats. Though some of their other products contain known toxins, this mat is remarkably chemical-free and recommended by yoga teachers worldwide.
It is made with 100% natural tree rubber and free of toxic foaming agents, azodicarbonamide, PVC, and harmful plasticizers. It is 5mm thick for superior joint cushioning, making it great for any yoga session. It has a rippled surface for added traction. We also love that this mat is easy to clean with a quick wipe-down.
Remember that this mat does have a reasonably strong smell out of the box, but it isn’t that nasty chemical smell from conventional mats. The pungent smell comes from the natural tree rubber and dissipates over time. Cleaning with a diluted apple cider vinegar solution can help eliminate it.
Gaiam Cork Yoga Mat | Natural, sustainable cork print design stops odors | Non-toxic TPE Rubber…
At under $40, you really can’t beat Gaiam’s cork yoga mat option. Although this mat has a TPE rubber backing, we still love the natural cork upper. It has impressive traction and gets even softer when damp in hot rooms.
This cork mat is pretty sustainable, but its toxin level is unclear. The cork is produced from sustainably managed cork trees, but the TPE rubber bottom could have hidden chemicals. Nonetheless, it is affordable, non-slip, cushiony, and keeps funky smells out.
The Environmental Impact of Yoga Mats
When we discuss eco-yoga mats, it’s not only about our well-being but also about the health of our planet. Many people overlook where their yoga mats go once they’re no longer in use.
A majority of yoga mats are crafted from materials that do not easily decompose leading them to linger in landfills for periods. Just envision all the yoga mats you’ve owned accumulating without breaking down – that’s an amount of waste.
But there’s good news. Certain yoga mats are manufactured using earth materials that naturally degrade over time. These mats are constructed from substances like rubber, cork, and organic cotton.
Opting for a sustainable yoga mat means you’re contributing to waste reduction and making a choice that benefits both your well-being and the environment. When considering your mat purchase, contemplate its impact, on the planet. Let us select options that support ourselves and our world.
Exploring the Fusion of Yoga and Technology; Innovative Eco-Friendly Smart Mats
In the realm of yoga, a harmonious blend of tradition and innovation is giving rise to a known trend: smart eco-yoga mats. While the ethos of embracing materials remains strong, there’s a captivating niche where technology enriches our yoga practice while upholding our well-being and environmental values.
These intelligent yoga mats feature embedded sensors that can detect your equilibrium and alignment. They sync seamlessly with an app on your device to offer real-time guidance on your poses. This technological advancement aims to elevate your practice by ensuring body alignment for injury prevention. What sets these mats apart in the ecosphere is their dedication to using toxic components. Manufacturers are pioneering the fusion of materials with technology, presenting a harmonious integration of both aspects.
Having personally experienced one of these mats, I can attest to its impact. Crafted from rubber devoid of PVC, phthalates, and other harmful substances, the mat strikes a balance between providing support and maintaining stability during challenging yoga postures.
What’s cool is that these mats are just the beginning. As we start paying attention to the materials we use and how they impact our well-being and the environment, there will be an increasing demand, for solutions like these clever, non-toxic yoga mats. They’re a step, towards making our yoga routines more mindful, efficient, and eco-friendly.
Key Takeaways: How to Find
Your yoga practice is about healing your body and mind through conscious movement. But conventional yoga gear may have you breathing in toxic chemicals.
If you want to minimize your exposure to VOCs and carcinogens while reducing your carbon footprint, opt for an eco-friendly, non-toxic yoga mat. Eco-friendly materials like cork, jute, natural tree rubber, and organic fibers are better for the planet and your health than PVC or standard yoga mats.
Have you tried any of these mats? Let us know what you think!
Pop quiz! 🧘🤔
All yoga mats are made from natural materials.
PVC in yoga mats can be harmful to your health.
Cork yoga mats are not durable and break easily.
What is the healthiest yoga mat?
The Brentwood Home Organic Yoga Mat is one of the only 100% organic cotton and natural rubber latex yoga mats on the market. This mat is free from toxins or harmful chemicals and is produced from organic cotton farms and rubber tree plantations that are never treated with pesticides or synthetic chemicals.
What is the most nontoxic yoga mat?
Nontoxic yoga mats are made in mainstream yoga mat brands without harmful VOCs, PVC, plasticizers, foams, heavy metals, phthalates, or other toxic chemicals. The most non-toxic option is the Gurus Roots Cork Yoga Mat, made from 100% sustainable cork and natural tree rubber latex.
What is a natural yoga mat?
Natural yoga mats are made with cork, natural rubber, jute, cotton, and organic fibers. They are free from the harmful chemicals in PVC, TPE, synthetic rubber, plastic, and other common toxin-laden yoga mat ingredients.
What makes a yoga mat eco-friendly?
Eco-friendly yoga mats are non-toxic and environmentally conscious from manufacturing until the end. They are made from nature-sourced materials like natural rubber, cork, jute, cotton, or wool. They are either 100% biodegradable (can decompose at the end of their lifespan) or can be recycled into something new.
Are yoga mats bad for the environment?
PVC, TPE, foam, and synthetic rubber yoga mats can be incredibly harmful for the environment and human health. They are manufactured with toxic chemicals like VOCs, azodicarbonamide, isocyanates, plasticizers, phthalates, lead, cadmium, chromium, and other heavy metals. Most yoga mats are also doomed to landfill because they are not biodegradable and typically not recycled. Choosing an eco-friendly yoga mat ensures that you are practicing in alignment with your ethics and keeping toxins out of your pranayama breathing.
What can I use instead of yoga mat?
Whether trying to avoid the everyday toxins in mainstream yoga mats or practicing more like the ancient yogis of India, there are many options for practicing yoga without a mat. An organic cotton yoga rug, yoga gloves, and socks, or a cork yoga mat are excellent options.
Check out this post for more about our favorite eco-friendly Yoga Mat Alternatives.