Eco Friendly Yoga Mats

Dearest ahimsa, how you make so much sense on all levels, but how hard it is to follow you. And oh how if you were a person, I’d probably punch you in the face out of frustration. In case you don’t know what ahimsa is, there are eight limbs of yoga, one of which is the yamas, and ahimsa or “non violence” is one of those. I won’t go any deeper into it which no doubt has some yoga scholars chomping at the bit, but many will take ahimsa to the level of trying to be environmentally friendly. You know, non violent towards mother earth and all her cute cuddly animals (mosquitoes don’t count according to the Buddha and neither do veggies because we can’t hear them scream). As such, it’s quite natural that yoga practitioners are purchasing “eco friendly yoga mats” in droves.

What IS “eco friendly” anyway? Well, let’s say that you’re my friend. And I punch you really hard in the face and break your nose. Am I being friendly? Of course not. Now let’s say that I punch you in the face but not as hard and only cause a nose bleed. Am I being friendly? To be friendly, I wouldn’t punch you at all. To be “eco friendly”, you cannot harm the environment, period.

What IS an eco friendly yoga mat? Well, let’s do a Google search for that since the internet would never lie to us, right? The first listing that catches my eye is for an eco friendly yoga mat made by a large, well known company. OOOOH! A click through to their website provides me with the following tantalizing description:

Bold is mine. “Made sustainably”. Now THAT is quite a claim.

Even if your “eco friendly” yoga mat is made from a natural substance such as rubber from a tree, if those trees are not raised organically, that means they are utilizing either (or both) synthetic fertilizer or synthetic pesticides. As each are petroleum based and petroleum is not a renewable resource, your yoga mats are not sustainable. And then of course there is all the environmental damage that non organic pesticides and fertilizers do. They kill the good bugs and microbes, pollute ground water and other fresh water supplies, create dead zones in the ocean, poison people, and the list goes on of NON eco friendly issues that surround them.

If you want to get even deeper into sustainability (I wish more people would) then by definition, anything that is shipped any distance by car, truck, train, ship, or plane is not sustainable. This is due to the fact that each of those modes of transportation utilizes petroleum and it is not a renewable resource.

To be truly sustainable, you have to make drastic changes in your life. If you’re not sustainable, are you practicing ahimsa? By purchasing a yoga mat that is not locally sourced from sustainable materials, are you violating ahimsa?

David Chapman is the owner of, has a Masters in BS, a PHD in Hypocrisy, is a certified yoga teacher who is anything but, and likes short walks on the beach.

In scientific theory and in wisdom traditions (Einstein, Yoga, Buddhism, Taoism etc.) we are all interconnected. Causing harm to yourself harms those around you. I am an aspect of nature.

Ahimsa in my life is often difficult to live up to because I am acutely aware of political theatre, resource extraction, and the rapid changes to the biophere that sustains all life. Sometimes I give up and become overwhelmed by being entrenched in ‘the system’.

Just buying things that are ‘Green’ (now marketing jargon) may be a gateway to greater things like, eventually, living sustainably. I start with my own lifestyle in order to reach something like peace or contentment. Supporting local agriculture and alternative currencies. Thoughtful use of resources- 90% of my wardrobe is second hand- rarely eating animal products, etc etc :roll:.

I allow myself to be an eccentric stretch, a transition generation. I used to fight hard but there was just too much negativity in that direction . . .

All that political correctness and idealism from Star Trek TNG in the 80s’ and 90’s, a science program emphasizing interconnectedness in the 70s’, shaped my mature values tremendously! :cool:


Thank you, Administrator David, for this insightful post. I agree that one must be careful not to instantly buy anything based on that it is “green”, at least not without some investigation. If the manufacturer claims sustainability, ask them what exactly they mean by that. How exactly were those trees grown, how was the rubber tapped etc. Even the manufacturer may not be completely aware, and might in the end be grateful for such constructive prying.
Transportation is, in many instances, inevitable. But we can certainly all do our best to minimize it.
The most enjoyable Christmas gift I have received this year was a donation made in my name to a tree plantation in Africa. A most welcome gift for all mother Earth, not to mention the people living there, now enjoying a greener environment with less soil erosion and healthier crops.
Have a joyful and merry Holiday!

I have gone to a Yoga center today, which is 35 km. away from Bangalore and they sell two types of Yoga mats. One is made up of synthetic material (some sort of rubber, I think) and the other is made from “pure cotton”. The synthetic one costs 350 rupees and the cotton one costs 450 rupees.
As far as cotton cultivation in India is concerned, the seeds of cotton are hybrid/genetically modified ones. The cultivation does, most of the time, involve non-organic fertilizers and pesticides. The cotton may travel half of India’s length before it is bought as Yoga-mat.

Can this kind of cotton Yoga mat qualify for an “eco-friendly” certification?

great article, I think everybody should consider Eco friendly, even outside the mat :slight_smile:
personally I just bought a 6mm 100% rubber & jute mesh mat. Natural is pleasant.

I can’t agree with more with the top. I used to buy yoga mats on Amazon, while some purchasing experience make me disappointed. The so called eco-friendly products turned out to be normal one.

Yoga mats are supposed to be made of Tigerskin or perhaps dearskin.
I’m not sure what Ahimsa has to do with yoga mats.

Excellent article! I use Jute mats and they are awesome. its also a feel good factor…

Hi, ahimsa is a very important aspect of yoga or the hindu thought. It basically addresses the aspect where you don't want to hurt any sentient being for no fault of theirs. And the use of Tiger skin or Deer skin that you see in photos, doesn't translate to it's okay to kill animals. The use of animal products is allowed (to the extent of being a vegetarian) as long as they are not killed for the purpose. It's okay to use items made out of animals when they have died naturally. That's why you will see music instruments (ex. tabla) that use animal hide even in a temple celebration because the idea is that the skin used in making a tabla is made of of a dead animal (that died a natural death). However, today the demand equation changes that scenario and animals are being abused and killed for meeting the demand. That's what needs to stop.