I've been doing yoga in my living room, which has a hard floor with an area rug. I work on the rug, which is about the thickness of a yoga mat, but because it is carpet, it does nothing to hold me in place. So I slip around quite a bit in certain positions. I figured getting a sticky mat might be a good idea. So, I headed off to the sporting goods store for an inexpensive mat without any thought as to the materials of the mat. When I walked into the store, I found 3 options on the shelf: a basic mat (around $20), a thicker mat (around $24) and one that said "environmentally friendly" (about $40).
Suddenly, I was in a quandary. I hadn't even considered the impact of the mat on the world around me. Needless to say, I left the store empty-handed and came right home to research, figuring I could find the perfect mat in one sitting. Now, 2 weeks later, I'm still working at it. I had no idea there were so many options or that they could be so expensive.
The companies that produce these mats are all so very different, as are their products. When I started out on Gaiam's site (with their pretty patterns and low prices), I thought the search would be easy. But then the materials came into question (TPE, rubber, PVC, Clean PVC...). It took me several hours to learn what these materials were and why they were good or bad.
But then I remembered my "Made in the US" preference and started to look in the places of manufacture on my top choices. Who knew this could get so complicated. Or that I would come to the end of my search so annoyed? Why is it so hard to find out the answers to these simple questions?
Some of the companies responded to my emails, others have not (G2 Lifestyles never got back to me).
I did receive an email from Hugger Mugger:
Our Earth Elements Mat are made in Asia, it is PVC and latex free. All of our mats with the work “Tapas” in the name are made USA.
Let me know if you have any other questions,
Hugger Mugger Receptionist
1-800-473-4888 Ext 130
Darn. (And still...no specifics...just "Asia"...growl...)
So, the search continues as I wait to hear back from a few of the other companies that I have emailed...
including a few more companies that impressed me: Yoga Rat, Manduka, and Karma Mantra.
I must say, after visiting Manduka, their site and their products are the most impressive of the whole lot. I have emailed them to inquire about the place of manufacture...but another site lists China as their product's "place of origin" (grrr...). I really like their Eko mat. Seems to be getting good reviews...and it is 99% latex free. If you are in the market for a mat, you should definitely check this product out. It's a little more expensive, but I guarantee if it is made in the US or Canada, this will be the mat I purchase.
My second favorite site/product: Natural Fitness (products made in the US and China - also non-specific...didn't say which products were made in the US).
Manduka and Natural Fitness not only had well-made products with good customer reviews, they seem to have great philosophies and missions. So, even though their products are made outside of the U.S. they may still be the winners in my search.
The only products that was made in the U.S. were the Hugger Mugger Tapas mats (which contain PVC, so they are a "no") and the Jade Mats (which are no good for latex sensitivity, so they are also a "no").
Guess I'm at least getting closer.
And I'm also coming to the end of another yoga-related search - a poster showing all of the positions, so I can simply place it on the wall as a reference without watching a video or looking in a book. My favorite choices so far:
"...a flow-chart of 67 important asanas. The sequences are well-composed and make a great guide for a thorough yoga practice. Did I mention that the people are adorable? Printed in the USA on recycled paper and using plant-based ink, this poster offers many things to feel good about."
This is a two-sided chart that can be placed on the floor by your mat for easy reference.
At least for we beginners...the charts are nice, because once you know exactly how to do each position, all you really need is a quick reference until you memorize the sequences you prefer.
Anyhow...I am off to slip around on the carpet - Namaste.