I have wonderful news. Except for a day or two here and there, I have consistently been doing yoga every morning for nearly four weeks! This is a big step for me. I’ve even been doing it since I got to college, which I feared I wouldn’t. I have been absolutely loving it. I can feel it toning my body, and it is amazing how much better my mental state has been. Also, my breathing and posture have improved dramatically. I can really tell, too, because suddenly my singing has so much more breath energy! It’s wonderful.
At home, Mother and I had a carpet that we did yoga on that worked very well. No slipping, no losing our balance because we couldn’t get our footing. But here’s the thing: In a dorm room, there is no such carpet. In fact, I tried doing yoga on my rug yesterday and it was disastrous. Luckily, mother and I had had the foresight to buy me a yoga mat before I went to school.
Only one problem: It smelled absolutely terrible. We bought a normal yoga mat that they sell pretty much everywhere, only to open it and nearly gag. It smelled very, very bad. The problem is that most sticky mats are made with PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, which is a toxic petroleum by-product that off-gasses carcinogenic fumes throughout its lifetime. Nor is it good to throw them out, because they are not biodegradable! Disastrous.
So then the idea is to look for eco-friendly yoga mats. The only problem is that many of them are not really eco-friendly! Ridic. Many are made from TPE, or Thermal Plastic Elastomer. Turns out, if you accidentally burn the mat, you’ll need a full toxic gear suit and gas mask. Not so good.
What is most important in finding a truly eco-friendly yoga mat is to look for “PVC-free” and “phthalate-free” on the label. I know, I know. The last thing you would expect is for your yoga mat to be so toxic! It’s beyond ridiculous. But, after quite a bit of research, it seems that you can be saved from the horrors of carcinogenic PVCs.
There are yoga mats made from jute, which is plant fiber, and natural rubber, which is tapped from trees. They are also biodegradable, so you don’t have to worry about throwing them away like you do PVC-full ones. Here are some good sites for the most eco-friendly yoga mats I have discovered thus far: Blue Lotus Yoga Essentials and Gaiam. And, with that, I am off to order one of those and get rid of my PVC-smelling one. I shudder at the thought.
Note to self: Yoga good, PVC bad.
Lily Berthold-Bond grew up in a chemical-free zone and has struggled her whole life to understand and accept this non-commercial lifestyle. Now a sophomore at Tufts University, she has embraced her green life and hopes to share its possibilities with the rest of her generation.