Thursday, February 3, 2011
The quest for the perfect yoga mat
Ahhh...yoga. A practice of relaxation, strength-building, toning, and centering the mind and spirit.
That is, until you begin searching for the perfect yoga mat. Enter stress, confusion, and aggravation. AHHHHHHHHHH!
I don't feel like I'm asking for too much: non-toxic, environmentally-friendly, well-made (preferably in the US), and affordable. But, apparently, I am. It seems that I can get two of the four, or three of the four, but never ALL four.
So, after days and days of agonizing over the research, contacting companies, and comparison shopping, here's what I found:
G2 Lifestyles makes a pretty cool product…mats that are actually printed with the most common yoga poses. I contacted the company to find out about their manufacturer, but they never got back to me (grrrr…). They offer an eco-friendly, affordable option. Apparently, though, they have mislabeled a few poses on the mat.
Kind of a cool idea…but expensive (around $85). Also cool, they take back the product when you are ready to recycle it. Couldn’t figure out where the products are manufactured.
Natural Fitness offers a selection of natural rubber mats and other eco-friendly options. Good prices, good philosophy (I think they also plant a tree with every purchase). Their FAQ section divulges that they manufacture in the USA and China.
A nice product, but I really am looking for a sticky mat (I need the support) and a softer, squishier mat for balance and impact.
Gaiam had the most consumer-friendly website…a nice comparison chart. They had several eco-friendly options, including a natural rubber mat with a non-latex surface; but when I inquired as to the place of manufacture…I am sad to report that the answer is Taiwan. I will say that after all my hours of research, this still may be the best bet, as they fulfill all of my other criteria (eco-friendly, biodegradable, good customer reviews, affordable).
Jade Yoga has a complete line of Made-in-the-USA yoga mats and accessories. They also plant a tree with each yoga mat purchase (nice). However, their sustainable and earth-friendly mats are made of natural rubber (not good for those of us with latex sensitivity). And, from what I can garner from on-line reviews, the rubber gives off an unpleasant odor. Some reviewers claim that it dissipates, while other swear it never goes away. And…they are expensive…$50 to over $100.
Hugger Mugger’s Original Tapas yoga mat is made in the USA, but it is also PVC. I couldn’t find out if any of their other mats (namely the Earth Elements mat) were US-made. The Earth Elements mat is non-toxic and bio-degradable…also latex-free and affordable ($30-$40). In fact, if it is made in the US it may well be the perfect mat. They also, like Gaiam, have a nice comparison grid.
So, the verdict? I still haven't decided. And I'm still waiting to hear back from a few of the companies. Right now, the top contenders are Hugger Mugger, Gaiam, and Natural Fitness. All three can offer most of what I seek (affordable, well-made with good consumer reviews, ethics, eco-friendly, non-toxic). Gaiam products are made in Taiwan. Natural Fitness' products are made in either the US or China (I've inquired specifically about the mat I want). And I'm still waiting to hear from Hugger Mugger about their product's manufacturing, as well.
Hopefully, I'll be able to make a purchase this weekend.
I hate research.
Posted by Melissa at 9:03 PM