5 Eco-Friendly Canadian Yoga Mats for a Healthier Practice
With more brands creating yoga mats made from natural materials, it’s easier than ever to have an environmentally sound (and potentially safer) workout.
Image: Yoga Design Lab
The Need for Eco-Friendly Yoga Mats
Yoga mats have evolved almost as much as the practice itself. The first recorded instances of yoga date back 5,000 years in Northern India, where grass or animal skin rugs were the cushioning of choice for meditation. It wasn’t until yoga was introduced to the Western world and gained popularity as a form of exercise that technical gear arrived on the scene. Today, yoga mats can cushion sensitive joints, make tricky postures like headstands more comfortable, and wick away moisture while you sweat through a plank—but they can also be harmful to the planet. The majority of mats on the market are made of PVC or Polyvinyl Chloride, which is one of the most environmentally destructive plastics.
A recent study shows that only nine percent of plastics are recycled in Canada. With PVC being one of the hardest to repurpose, most old mats are destined for landfills. Moreover, in order to make PVC more pliable, it is combined with phthalates, a group of potentially carcinogenic chemicals that can leach out of products and into the air we breathe. Yoga is rooted in ahimsa, the principle of having respect and not causing harm to ourselves or our environment, so it may be time to switch to healthier equipment.
Fortunately, more brands are now creating eco-friendly yoga mats out of materials like cork and natural rubber—all without compromising the durability and high-performance functionality we expect from the equipment. Here are five consciously-sourced yoga mats from Canadian companies that can benefit both your body and the planet.
(Related: How to Choose The Right Type of Yoga For You)
Founded by sisters Emily and Rebekah Okashimo, Urbivore is a Toronto-based online yoga shop that produces eco-friendly equipment made of cork and natural tree rubber. Don’t worry—no trees are cut down in the process. In fact, the brand uses cork that’s harvested from bark that regenerates every eight to nine years, which actually helps the trees absorb more carbon dioxide and reduce air pollution. Cork makes a great material for yoga mats as it contains a natural waxy substance that wicks away sweat, eliminates odour, and gets grippier with moisture. Urbivore’s mats (from $98) feature beautiful silk-screened prints in a range of dimensions, including a thin, more compact mat designed for travellers.
Image: Dusky Leaf Yoga
Dusky Leaf Yoga
It’s hard to find a non-toxic yoga mat that’s also affordable. But Dusky Leaf Yoga, which creates lightweight and colourful mats (from $38) out of a biodegradable resin, sells an earth-friendly option that’s easy on the wallet. In addition to being hypoallergenic and latex-free, the materials are also certified by OEKO-TEX, a global certification system for environmentally friendly and socially responsible textile production sites. Each reversible mat is designed with two types of textured surfaces: one side has more grip, while the other offers supportive cushioning.
Image: Scoria World
Scoria World Yoga
Launched with the goal of helping yogis unleash their inner child and find creative inspiration through playful, eye-catching designs, Scoria’s cork mats (from $78) double as works of art. The brand specializes in sustainably harvested cork and tree rubber mats silk-screened with nature-centric prints, some of which are created in collaboration with Canadian artists. As a bonus, Scoria donates a portion of its profits to partners like Feeding Children Everywhere, which provides nutritious meals to families in need, and Right To Play, an organization that empowers Canadian Indigenous youth through play-based education programs.
Image: Supported Soul
Fashion industry veteran Nicole Lawson created Supported Soul in Port Moody, British Columbia, while battling postpartum depression. Yoga helped her reconnect with her physical and mental health, and she wanted to help others to do the same. The company is best known for its ethically sourced and sustainable mats (from $78) including their biodegradable and recyclable Pro Grip Mat. The sticky, non-slip mat offers the grip necessary to nail tricky arm balances and inversions like handstands, yet it’s free of chemicals like PVC and formaldehyde. Instead, the mat is made with a natural tree rubber base and topped with durable matte vegan leather.
(Related: How to Clean Your Yoga Mat the Right Way)
Image: Yoga Design Lab
Yoga Design Lab
After noticing piles of shabby plastic yoga mats in studios, Toronto-born Chad Turner founded Yoga Design Lab to create visually stunning and conscious yoga mats (from $55) inspired by the island of Bali. Case in point: the machine-washable Combo Mat features an ultra-absorbent microsuede towel top layer (made out of recycled plastic bottles) bonded to a natural tree rubber base, eliminating the need for yoga towels. Each mat features a lively design printed with non-toxic water-based inks—proving that earth-friendly need not mean boring.