Yoga mats, or sticky mats, are an integral part of any yoga practice. They protect and pad your spine and knees from a hard floor, create a personal space in yoga class, and most importantly, keep you from sliding out of those sweaty asanas.
Standard mats are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), latex, plastic or a blend of materials. More eco-friendly mats are constructed from cotton, wool, jute, hemp and natural rubber.
New inventions are yielding bio-degradable and eco-friendly mats that even protect against bacteria. A new carbon- and hydrogen-based foam produces thin, durable, PVC- and latex-free mats.
PVC and synthetic latex mats are toxic and often have a slick chemical layer. Natural materials like cotton, hemp and wool soak up sweat, but do not provide that spongy cushion found in traditional mats.
Natural mats made of thick, heavy material are difficult to roll up and heavy to carry. Look for safe materials that are not too heavy or too light and provide a sticky grip.
Avoid mats made with hazardous chemicals. Read labels and search for reviews to make sure your mat contains no toxins or allergens, especially if you have sensitivity to latex or plastics.