For more than 5000 years, the citizens of the Indian subcontinent have known something that Western Civilization has only relatively recently discovered: yoga is hugely beneficial to human well-being. Today, yoga has become popular, and many have begun practicing or starting out a home amongst COVID19 restrictions. As such, below, we take a look at one accessory you’d be wise to kit yourself up with, a yoga mat. And even better, how to chose and where to buy an eco-friendly yoga mat so you can practice with the environment and sustainability in mind.
Whether a novice or regular yogi, you’ll find numerous benefits in practicing yoga. Yoga can help to create increased flexibility, decreased anxiety, increased muscle tone, decreased weight, increased cardiac health, decreased chronic pain, improved athletic performance, and decreased depression.
Researchers have proven many of these attributes true. If you’ve been curious about yoga, this is an opportunity and invitation for you to pursue this life-changing, life-enhancing form of exercise. If you already practice yoga, you’ll know you can always discover more and keep learning.
One of the real beauties of yoga is the relative lack of equipment you need to practice: a meditative spot, silence or perhaps soft music, comfortably stretchable clothing, and of course, a yoga mat. And of course, yoga and meditation practice helps us center and gain perspective, as well as keeping healthy. As such, it’d be almost wrong to do so on top of a plastic mat with all its negative environmental impacts.
Therefore here is our guide to the 10 best eco-friendly yoga mats, along with an explanation of why we chose them. And what you should look for in choosing your environmentally friendly yoga mat.
We’d like to frame the question of how to select the right eco-friendly mat for your needs in two ways. First up, the simple, practical question of what you need a yoga mat to be. Second, it’s essential to know what to look for and avoid when selecting your eco-friendly yoga mat to last.
The standard size of a yoga mat is 68 inches (5’ 8”) long and 24 inches (2’) wide. These dimensions do vary pretty widely, though you’ll find this size mat just right for most yogi forms and positions. When it comes to thickness, it gets complicated—partly because suppliers measure yoga mats differently. A standard thickness mat is 1/8 inch thick. If measured in millimeters, that is just over 3 millimeters.
The thickness you choose for your mat may depend upon the degree of cushioning you need for comfort or upon the construction material. A thinner mat, often preferred by instructors and veteran yogis, is 1/16 inch, or about 1.5 millimeters. A thick mat would be 1/4 inch or just over 6 millimeters.
Beyond choosing the size and thickness of your mat, you’ll want to select the surface you’ll be experiencing. Do you like it smooth or ribbed? Would you prefer it to be non-wettable (that is, your sweat will stay on the surface of the mat) or wettable (where water absorbs into the mat)? This choice is important for a couple of reasons. You’re more likely to slip on a non-wettable surface. Another aspect of this has to do with the quality of stickiness. However, this isn’t about whether the mat sticks to you. But instead, if it stays in place while you are changing positions.
Choosing yoga mats made of the right material is especially important when you want to be eco-friendly. This is mostly because they make most yoga mats in use and for sale from polyvinyl chloride (PVC). PVC is a plastic made from petroleum. PVC does not biodegrade, and it isn’t recyclable. So if you want to live sustainably, plastic-free, and with a minimal carbon footprint, we recommend you eschew PVC mats.
When choosing your yoga mat from the list below for the best eco-friendly creds, all of the below possess a decent measure; look for natural materials and sustainable and ethical sourcing. The best will always be entirely natural, which in turn means they’ll also biodegrade at the end of their useful life, leaving no harm. However, you’ll also find below a selection that includes eco-foams and polymers for the essential sticky back, which stack up well too. We’ve called out the environmental creds for each of our choices below.
This top-flight cork yoga mat is relatively thin and intended mainly for the more experienced yogi who prefers a solid grip over cushioning. You’ll find JURU’s non-slip cork yoga mats perfect if you engage in lengthy, time-intensive training in a warm environment. Due to its grip, wet or dry, this mat is ideal for sweating. It is standard size—6 feet x 2 feet—and made 100% of cork and natural tree rubber from Kerala. The rubber itself is on the underside to prevent slip, and you can reverse the mat according to your preference.
Like all yoga products constructed by JURU, they make their cork mats in India. It comes with a sling, so you can wear it en route to yoga class.
Another reason advanced students and teachers will prefer these yoga mats is their number, 7. JURU designed the mat to make it possible for those who wish to pursue the ancient concept of the chakras and colors as bringers of enlightenment. The chakras’ illustration on the yoga mat helps practitioners find perfect alignment regardless of enlightenment.
The Boho Yoga mat is 6 millimeters thick, nicely cushioned, and handmade in the US. It is lightweight, extremely durable, anti-bacterial, and reversible.
They make MYSOLMAT yoga mats from TPE, or thermoplastic rubber, which is both biodegradable and recyclable. TPE’s environmental credentials come from the fact that it requires no compounding, reinforcing agents, or stabilizers. Further, each yoga mat that MYSOLMAT makes out of TPE requires less energy to produce than traditional PVC mats. The Boho Mat is 100% free of PVC, latex, chloride, and heavy metals materials. It also comes with a carrying strap. The mat comes complete with a non-skid surface, echoing the best rubber qualities to stay in place regardless of movement and posture. This environmentally friendly yoga mat ships free from Austin, Texas, in the US.
The mat has accumulated all 5-Star reviews on Etsy at the time of writing. Several of the reviewers commented on how much they love the mat’s pattern. Several noted as well the rapid turnaround when it came to shipping products from the owner’s store, which happily contains a wide variety of yoga rugs in all sorts of patterns.
The Eason natural jute yoga mat is six inches longer than the standard 5’ 8” yoga mat. At 5 millimeters thick, it’s slightly less than 1/4 inch.
It comes in a variety of colors with a matching cotton carrying bag. Jute fiber, the raw material used to make the mat, is derived from the same plant from which they make burlap. You might not know that Jute fiber is the second most-produced natural fiber after cotton. They widely use Jute where strength and durability are required. As such, jute makes an excellent raw material for yoga mats that get lugged around and exercised upon. They’ve utilized an eco-friendly foam on the mat’s underside in place of rubber or synthetics to make it less likely to slip during exercise—no plastics of phthalates here.
In preparing their jute yoga mats for sales and shipping, the merchant has been extremely conscious of maintaining best hygiene practices. Therefore all the items for purchase have been handled with sanitary gloves after their final washing and bleaching. They make each item free of chemical additives. The mats ship free in the US from Foley, Alabama, and arrive in about a week.
Like Eason mats, SUGA’s recycled, environmentally friendly yoga mat is 5 millimeters thick and 6’ long. However, that’s where the similarity ends since they make SUGA’s mats from materials sourced from 100% recycled neoprene wetsuits. These yoga mats are unique in several ways. Their construction involves a process called “closed-cell foam,” which essentially means that the rubber-like construction won’t pick up dirt and bacteria from the yoga studio floor.
Plus, they are straightforward to clean. And they specially design them to be durable, sticky, dense, flexible, and water-soluble (Hey, they’re wetsuits!). They developed these mats with high-compression yoga positions in mind. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that these mats were the brainchild of a surfer/yogi who was looking for a perfect yoga mat and, at the same time, wanted to find a good reason to recycle old wetsuits. The result, of course, is these environmentally friendly yoga mats from SUGA.
Liforme is one of the most highly rated yoga mats on the market for the eco-friendly, serious yogi. It comes in four colors: gray, blue, pink, and green. They construct the liforme yoga mat of eco-polyurethane and natural rubber tapped from rubber trees. As a result of their natural rubber construction, they will completely biodegrade in a landfill for excellent environmentally friendly qualities.
The mats are made of non-toxic material and have a proprietary “AlignForMe” system that establishes a proper alignment position for users. This alignment system has demonstrated its usefulness in preventing injury and helping users attain heightened yoga ability.
Liforme is a multinational company that has developed and sold yoga mats around the world. Their yoga mats carry the reputation of being both well-cushioned and extremely sticky. One of the greatest testimonials to the Liforme Original Yoga Mat is the volume of reviews on Amazon and the excellent 87% 5-Star rating given to the mat by over 1300 purchasers.
Whether you practice slow meditation, teach, or are a seasoned yoga professional, you can’t go wrong with liforme eco-rubber mats. In fact, they even claim to transform your practice.
If you want to be sure you absolutely have an eco-friendly mat unlike any other in the world, you can order a custom made environmentally friendly mat from Yoga Photo Mats. You send the merchant your horizontal photo or illustration, which they then transfer to a 70” long, 24” wide, 1/4” thick flexible mat made of biodegradable, non-toxic material. Your photo will be transferred with waterproof, lightweight ink that is exceedingly durable, as well as being UV cured and free of heavy metals.
If you like the idea but don’t have an image you want to use, you can visit the merchant’s website, who is a commercial photographer and yogi, in addition to making these mats. Yoga Photo Mats has accumulated plenty of 5-Star reviews from those who have used it to purchase one of a kind yoga mat.
Going back to yoga’s original source for a very traditional organic mat, you can choose an organic cotton yoga mat from Abhinehkrats manufactured and shipped (free and quickly) from Ghaziabad, India. This mat is larger and thicker than the standard sizes one would expect in the US. It is 26” wide and a full 74” long.
The mat is handwoven by Indian artisans with all-natural cotton fiber. The manufacturing process of weaving these natural yoga mats requires three days. You can wash them, and you can even expect them to outlast plastic or silicone mats. The longer you use them, the softer they become. There is an eco-friendly, non-slip backing made of natural rubber as well. You can expect delivery of your new mat within two to three weeks of the date of order.
The Yoloha Aura mat offers several options. Most importantly, they are all eco-friendly. The product is an extremely lightweight mat with the marvelous cushioning and sticking power for which cork is famous. While designed with the veteran yogi in mind, novices will find it tremendously enjoyable. Its durability means it will remain with you as you transition from beginner to expert.
The cork materials used in the mat are sustainable, recyclable, renewable. They don’t harvest cork by cutting down trees, but rather the tree’s bark is peeled from it every nine years. Beyond this, the mat has no latex, no PVC, and non-toxic foaming agents of chemicals of any kind in its materials. The eco foam bottom of the mat is closed-cell to avoid gathering dust. The cork yoga mat itself is naturally antimicrobial.
It would be tough to find a yoga mat as attractive and as completely functional as the Yogo Design Lab Mat. This eco-friendly mat comes in four different colors with exquisite Indian designs on the exercise surface. Even rolled up on its carrying strap, the mat is eye-catching. The mat is 71” long, 24” wide, and 5 millimeters thick. Made of natural rubber materials, it is non-toxic and odor-free. The rubber itself is ethically sourced natural tree rubber. Of course, being made of all-natural rubber materials, a renewable resource, they’re also PVC ad plastics-free.
Buy one of these natural rubber yoga mats from Yoga Design Lab, and they give $1 from every purchase to help support yoga programs for young people in the US.
The Yoga Design Lab Mat was an inspiration of founder Chad Turner while vacationing in Bali. He had a vision of creating a beautiful exercise mat that would be useful and appealing to beginning students and meet the advanced yogi’s needs. Turner moved to Bali to breathe life into his vision for his products, which became the highly-regarded Yoga Design mat.
Jade yoga fusion mats combine all of the eco-friendly qualities you might look for in a new mat with grip and padding. Furthermore, in various colors to suit your style, these foldable mats made from natural rubber from real rubber trees look the part. Even better, Jade plants a tree for every mat sold. Naturally organic and phthalates and PVC free, Jade yoga notes their care for not only the planet but also the communities they operate in, having donated over $100K to ovarian cancer causes.
Produced in the US, these Jade yoga mats make a great sustainable option, and we commend any business that plants trees for the future as a great way to demonstrate real care for the environment. As a result, when you buy one of these Jade natural rubber mats, you won’t have to worry quite as much about the carbon cost of shipping because Jade plants a tree for every purchase for you to give back. Guilt-free yoga practice awaits.
For our final selection, we've chosen the Maji Sports Premium Mat, made of a jute and PER polymer blend. Instead of natural rubber and jute, they use PER, an environmentally sound resin, or synthetic rubber that is extremely durable and lightweight and has excellent stickiness. The jute fibers they use to make this mat have natural antimicrobial properties that make it especially well-suited for those who have sweaty workout sessions. The mat is phthalates and toxin-free.
This jute yoga mat is a standard size: 2” x 5’8” and 4.5 millimeters thick. Delivered from Gardena, California, your new mat ships free throughout the US within three weeks from the date of order. Maji Sports has received 10 5-Star reviews for this jute fiber product. Characteristic comments from reviewers include descriptions of the mat’s attractiveness and, in particular, the way it stays put throughout the exercise.
Yoga is one of those remarkable human practices that have remained uplifting and holistic since before the advent of modern history. While the various forms of yoga have adapted and evolved, it has remained essentially what it has always been: a holistic series of serene exercises for the development of an individual physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.
Given the distinctive nature of yoga, it is only fitting that we should approach it with the sort of respect that we can reveal when conducting ourselves in the most sustainable manner. By all means, let us express our admiration for yoga, our love of the environment, and our desire to perpetuate our fellow human beings by going forward in an ecologically sustainable manner. We can do this by pursuing the practice of yoga with eco-friendly, plastic-free, zero-waste yoga mats.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our selection of everything from cork mats to high-quality natural rubber yoga mats or those made from recycled materials. Whether seeking a perfect layer for quiet meditation or a sweaty session, you’ll find one of the mats above right for you. If you have bought any of these yoga mats or found others that might fit the bill, please do let us know in the comments below.