yoga mat making you sick

Is Your Yoga Mat Making You Sick?

As we kick off a new year, 2018, there are thousands of conversations about goal setting, especially related to improvements to health. You might be making changes to your diet, workouts, and mind-set.

Including yoga in your life or committing to yoga in a deeper way could be one of your resolutions.

If yoga is your go-to feel-good thing, it’s time to consider:


Is your yoga mat making you sick?


Before we get down into the health of your mat…


In the summer of 2017, Shweta Parmar, creator of Gutsier Living and Baby the Mama was a guest on “The Womb Happy Hour” radio show. She posed the question, “Is yoga making you sick?”


Shweta is an Ayurvedic healer who helps pregnant moms and educates her clients about ways to improve their gut health and support their digestion through Ayurveda. If you missed the episode—Is Yoga Making You Sick?—you can listen here.


Shweta shared simple tips for connecting to your natural rhythms and ways to prevent common well-being trends you choose to follow from making you sick or not serving your personal needs.


What’s not natural to the optimal rhythm of your health is exposure to toxic chemicals. There’s a lot of information about eating clean and avoiding the use of chemicals in our day-to-day products.


If it’s not already on your radar, and you’re spending lots of time, sweat, and breaths on your yoga mat, why not think about the health of your mat too?


Many commonly used mats are made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC). This type of vinyl is added to make your mat flexible (and because it’s cheap).


What you might not realize is that when you’re in downward dog, with your hands and feet on the mat, you’re touching material that’s known as a toxic plastic made with chlorine. Chlorine is linked to dioxin, a cancer causing chemical. Exposure to dioxin accumulates in the body over time.


I often share information and blog posts about avoiding toxic chemicals in tampons and pads that are also linked to dioxin. Your down there is a highly absorbable area.


Your skin is porous and absorbs lots of stuff, too, stuff that can impact your body.


A lot of the perfumes/scents in female products used down there also include phthalates that are known endocrine disruptors, chemicals that mess up your hormonal balance and cause icky negative effects to your reproductive, neurological, and immune system health.


For the fellas, they decrease the number of your sperm and the quality of your swimmers. For the ladies, they’re especially detrimental to your health.


Endocrine disruptors are linked to endometriosis, obesity, and fertility issues. Research indicates that they pose serious risks during pregnancy because these toxins can easily flow from a pregnant mom to baby in utero and can negatively impact the health of your baby.


They’re swimming around in your yoga mat, and you should avoid them swimming around your system.


Luckily there are healthier options!


I tend to say I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. With this post, keep in mind that I’m not a Yogi or an expert or trained in all the different types of commonly used health mats versus the alternative and toxic free options.


Just as it’s a personal choice to use the best tampon, pad, menstrual cup, or other product for your flow needs, it’s important to find what best works for you and fits your needs in your yoga practice.


A helpful, detailed resource on many yoga mats that covers a lot of different aspects to consider is


Although they’re not heavily focused on toxic free/eco-friendly yoga mats, I like the way they refresh their reviews based on updates to their research.


Based on my personal research, here are some things to keep in mind if you’re looking for a healthier yoga mat:


1) Familiarize yourself with yoga mat acronyms.

• PER (aka polymer environmental resin) is known as a less toxic form of PVC (see above).
Word on the yoga mat street is that PER mats are supposed to be free of dioxins, phthalates, and furanns because phthalates aren’t used to soften them.

• TPE (aka thermoplastic elastomer) is a synthetic rubber with a healthier reputation than PVC because it’s supposedly free of BPA, PVC, lead, phthalates, and dioxin.

• NBR (aka nitrile butadiene rubber)—think natural rubber that’s typically manmade and relates to a thicker and squishier mat.

• EVA (aka ethylene-vinyl acetate) contributes to a light and travel friendly mat but isn’t toxic free or eco-friendly.


2) Check out the pros and cons of mats made from natural ingredients rather than ones that sound like they’re from a science project.


• Natural rubber mats are made from rubber trees. They’re are eco-friendly and are said to have anti-microbial qualities that keep them clean. They’re thick, heavy mats and don’t dry quickly.

• Jute, hemp, and cork mats—no acronyms involved and they tend to be more natural and friendly to the environment.

• PU mats (aka sheep mats) are worth checking out if you’re looking for a thick but lightweight mat that’s hypoallergenic. This double sided, non-slip surfaces is made with no latex and chemicals.


3) Compare traditional reviews (e.g., with eco-friendly non-toxic yoga mat reviews (e.g., EcoWatch) to get a feel for what might be your best option if you’re looking for ideas.


4) Wash your hands after doing yoga with soap and water. Avoid using anti-bacterial soap because the FDA recently reported that there are endocrine disrupting and non-beneficial toxins not good for women and men…I’ll get into more details in an upcoming post.


The meaning of yoga is “unite,” and it’s a worthwhile life-affirming practice.


Remember that the mat that helps to support you should serve in the natural flow of your healing system rather than oppose it. 


Ask yourself if your yoga mat is making you sick…


To your health and an abundant 2018!