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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Choosing the Right Yoga Mat

By Daniel Szalok

It doesn't matter if you haven't tried yoga yet or you've been into it for a number of years, you will either need a mat now, or you'll have to get new one in the near future. You might have started off with those really colorful but inexpensive mats, but found out they smelled strongly of chemicals? Or you tried the more earth-friendly yoga mat created from jute. It smelled alright, but then it didn't last for more than a couple of months, right? What does a Yogi do in such a situation? How do you actually choose a good mat?

Regular Plastic Yoga Mats

This is a mistake made by many first timers. It really is inexpensive, which is why many newbies go for it. But let me tell you, it's a big mistake if you're looking for Yoga to be a long term thing. First and foremost, it's really very thin. Apart from that doesn't it doesn't give a lot of good cushioning. Also, it smells of strong chemicals, and these are definitely not good for your health! Such types of mats are produced using Phthalates, which is a chemical that turns any hard plastic into soft plastic causing kidney and lung damage in rats. Never leave this form of Yoga mat in the car, ever. As it releases a harmful chemical it's left in a hot environment. And if you're big on the environment and surroundings, these are definitely not for you. This is because they are made using environmentally dangerous procedures.

Jute Yoga Mats

Jute yoga mats on the other hand are highly environmentally friendly. However, even they have some negative points. They are created using porous plants, that's how they are able to absorb any of your sweat while practicing yoga. This gives rise to kind of a matching smell to your sweaty body, which weakens structure with time. It won't fall apart just like that but you can't expect a long life from it if you're planning to do Yoga for a long time.

Rubber Yoga Mats

These are one of the best types for anyone who is environmentally conscious and wants to save money. They are strong and not too expensive. Rubber happens to be a replaceable resource, but just make sure the mat isn't created out of synthetic rubber. It's made using a process that's environmentally unfriendly, and can give rise to the same type of health problems, although but not really as bad as the other phthalate mats. If you're allergic to latex, natural rubber mats could be a problem. But you do get latex free and phthalate free mats, they are just costlier. These are worth it and better than exercising on dangerous chemicals or the rubber that just aggravates your allergies.