As a Van lifer and a lover of yoga, it can often be challenging to fit a yoga practice into my tiny lifestyle. I have done yoga on my large bed, and I have done it in the very narrow centre aisle of my van. Neither of those is optimal but any Yogi will tell you your practice doesn’t have to be perfect it just has to be. In this article I will be deep diving into the best yoga mats for van life but also for regular studio practice. I wrote this article with the environment in mind as well as the weight and size.
- How to Choose The Best Yoga Mats For Van Life 2023
- Why are some yoga mats bad for the environment?
- What are the best eco-friendly non-toxic yoga mats made out of?
- What kind of yoga mats are recyclable?
- How to Choose The Best Yoga Mats For Van Life
- Most Talked About Non Toxic Yoga Mat
- My Top 3
- Best Cleaning Methods
- What to do with your old yoga mat?
How to Choose The Best Yoga Mats For Van Life 2023
I have had so many different yoga mats over the past twenty-plus years that I’ve been practicing yoga. When I started my yoga teacher training (YTT) I promised myself as a reward for completion I would buy myself a really good, high-quality, comfortable, attractive yoga mat. So here I am, trying to help myself decide which kind is best. I will do the research for you should you find yourself in need of a new mat as well.
My home practice isn’t as frequent as it should be, but I’m able to get into my local hot yoga studio really regularly right now because I’m off work. If you’re in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, BC Canada, you should come to check them out. Read my review of Modo Yoga Nanaimo here.
When choosing a yoga mat, there are a few things to consider. Firstly, you’ll want to think about the material the mat is made from and choose one that suits your needs and preferences. You may also want to consider the thickness of the mat, especially if you have sensitive joints or are looking for extra cushioning.
In addition, you may want to consider the texture and grip of the mat. Mats with a textured surface can provide extra grip, which can be helpful for more advanced poses. Some mats also come with additional features such as alignment markings or carrying straps.
It’s important to clean your yoga mat regularly to keep it hygienic and in good condition. Most mats can be wiped down with a damp cloth and mild soap, and some can even be machine washed. With proper care, a high-quality yoga mat can last for years and provide a comfortable and safe surface for your yoga practice.
Why are some yoga mats bad for the environment?
Some yoga mats can be bad for the environment because of the materials they are made from and the production process used to make them.
For example, many yoga mats are made from PVC, which is a type of plastic that is not biodegradable and can release harmful chemicals when it breaks down. The production of PVC also releases toxic chemicals into the environment, which can harm wildlife and pollute the air and water.
Additionally, some yoga mats are made from rubber that is not sustainably sourced or harvested. This can lead to deforestation and habitat destruction, which can harm wildlife and contribute to climate change.
To address these issues, many yoga mat manufacturers have started using more eco-friendly materials such as natural rubber, cork, or jute, which are biodegradable and sustainably sourced. Some manufacturers also use more environmentally friendly production processes, such as using water-based inks for printing designs on mats.
It’s important to research the materials and production processes used to make a yoga mat before purchasing one, and to choose a mat that is made from environmentally friendly materials if possible. Additionally, you can extend the lifespan of your yoga mat by properly caring for it and recycling it when it is no longer usable.
What are the best eco-friendly non-toxic yoga mats made out of?
There are several eco-friendly, non-toxic materials that are commonly used to make yoga mats. Here are a few of the best options:
- Natural Rubber: Natural rubber is a sustainable, biodegradable material that is often used to make yoga mats. It provides excellent grip and cushioning, and is naturally anti-microbial, so it’s easy to clean.
- Cork: Cork is a renewable and biodegradable material that is harvested from the bark of cork oak trees. It provides a stable and non-slip surface, and is naturally anti-microbial and hypoallergenic.
- Jute: Jute is a natural fiber that is often used to make eco-friendly yoga mats. It is biodegradable, renewable, and provides a textured surface that offers good traction.
- Organic Cotton: Organic cotton is another eco-friendly option for yoga mats. It is grown without the use of harmful pesticides and chemicals, and is biodegradable. However, cotton mats may not offer as much cushioning or grip as other materials.
- TPE: Thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) is a synthetic material that is often used to make eco-friendly yoga mats. It is biodegradable, non-toxic, and provides good grip and cushioning.
When choosing a non toxic yoga mat that is also eco-friendly, be sure to check the label and product information to ensure that the materials used are non-toxic and sustainably sourced. Look for certifications such as OEKO-TEX, GOTS, or FSC to ensure that the mat meets environmental and safety standards.
What kind of yoga mats are recyclable?
While not all yoga mats are recyclable, there are some types of mats that can be recycled or repurposed. Here are a few options:
- Natural Rubber: Natural rubber mats are biodegradable and can be recycled. Some companies even offer take-back programs for their rubber mats, where they will recycle the mats for you.
- Cork: Cork is a renewable and biodegradable material that can be recycled or repurposed. Some companies offer cork recycling programs for their mats.
- TPE : Thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) mats are often made from recycled materials and can be recycled at the end of their life.
- Eco-Friendly: Some companies make eco-friendly mats from materials like recycled rubber, recycled plastic, or natural fibres like jute or hemp. These mats may be able to be recycled or repurposed.
It’s important to check with your local recycling facility to see if they accept yoga mats. If they do not, there may be other ways to repurpose your mat, such as using it as a non-slip surface under rugs or as padding for outdoor furniture. Some yoga studios may also accept gently used mats for donation or recycling.
How to Choose The Best Yoga Mats For Van Life
When It comes to Van Life it’s often best if things have more than one purpose. Perhaps your coffee pot is used to water the one plant you found room for. You might have one towel that is for showering or for the beach. The best yoga mat for van life might be the traditional style of yoga mat we don’t see that often when heading into the studio.
Traditional style yoga mats made from fiber are typically made from natural plant-based materials such as jute or cotton. These mats are commonly used in India, where yoga originated, and are often preferred by practitioners who prefer a more traditional or eco-friendly approach to their yoga practice.
Jute yoga mats are made from the fibers of the jute plant, which is a long, soft, and shiny vegetable fiber that is commonly used to make burlap sacks. Jute mats have a rough texture that provides a good grip, making them ideal for yoga poses that require stability and balance. However, the rough texture can also be uncomfortable for some people and may cause skin irritation.
Cotton yoga mats, on the other hand, are made from natural cotton fibers that provide a soft and comfortable surface for yoga practice. Cotton mats are often preferred by practitioners who prioritize comfort and are looking for a mat that is easy to clean and maintain. However, cotton mats may not provide as much grip as jute mats, especially when wet.
One of the benefits of using a traditional style yoga mat made from fiber is that they are generally more eco-friendly than synthetic mats, as they are made from natural, renewable resources. However, it is important to note that some fiber mats may not be as durable as synthetic mats and may require more frequent replacement.
Material: Organic Cotton
Measurements:72″x27″ 3/8″ thick
Alignment aid: No
Warranty: 15 year
The best yoga mats for van life should be easy to store and lightweight. The Yogasana mats come in a nice assortment of colours. I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t use this as an area rug to help keep your van floors less chily. Shake it off or flip it over and it now becomes your yoga mat. The nice thing about the traditional style mats is they can be used on a hard surface or outside.
Material: Certified organic Cotton and non slip latex
Measurements: 71″x24″ 5mm thick
Alignment aid: No
slipperiness: Some negative reviews about grip
Warranty: 1 year, 30-day free returns
The Brentwood homes mat is organic and non-slip latex. This company has been around for a very long time making green items for your home, their Yoga department is relatively new but they are getting some good reviews from yogis. A negative I have read about is grip, some folks are finding this to be a bit slippery. The price is also pretty high for me.
Material: Organic herbal dyed cotton
Alignment aid: No
Slipperiness: Some reviews indicate slipping cured with core strength
Warranty: 30 day return you pay shipping, unwashed and undamaged
I have to be honest I find these traditional mats to be a little costly. As far as being the best yoga mats for van life price is definitely a factor. There aren’t many van lifers who aren’t trying to live a low-cost lifestyle. I believe they would be a lot easier to travel with and their uses are more flexible for beach or grass if you want to practice outside. The reviews are all very positive, not a single negative review actually. I’m a bit skeptical that all the reviews are 5 stars, not a single 4-star that I could find!!!
Most Talked About Non Toxic Yoga Mat
Manduka EKO Series Yoga Mat
Material: Non Amazon Tree Rubber
Measurements: 71″ x 24″ standard, available in Long 79″ 5mm thick
Alignment aid: No
Manduka claims to be the #1 recommended mat by yoga teachers worldwide. 10$ off your first purchase and they offer discounts to certified instructors. These non toxic yoga mats have a lifetime guarantee and get really great reviews. There are a wide variety of different lengths, widths, and thicknesses. The rubber they use is biodegradable and is ethically sourced and sustainably harvested. I didn’t jump on any of the colour choices, but I’m a bit bright and focused on purple, so I’m a really targeted colour profile! They do have an Eko Lite version that is lighter and thinner.
Discounted Price on Amazon with this link
Scoria Yoga Mat **
Material: Sustainably harvested Cork and tree rubber
Measurements: 72″x24″4.5mm or 6mm thick
Alignment aid: Yes, multiple choices
slipperiness: Ultra grip – no towel needed
Warranty: 1 Year
These are really pretty yoga mats. I love that this is company is owned by Canadian women! I like that there is free shipping in Canada. Many yoga studios have cork flooring because it is naturally anti-microbial and that helps eliminate odour. It’s pretty heavy but If you want a thick yoga mat, which I do, you are going to have to pay with weight. If you’re looking for the best yoga mats for van life they also make a 2mm travel mat that weighs 4lbs. They also make an X large, and an X thick version. Comes with a carry strap and no plastic packaging.
Material: Recycled wetsuits, neoprene
Measurements: 72″x25″ 5mm thick or XL 74″x26″
Alignment aid: NO
slipperiness: Good Grippe
Warranty: 30 Days
I love the concept of this company. They take old wetsuit and recycle them into Yoga mats. Yoga and surfing are such a good partnership! Neoprene is naturally cleaner and fresher than many other materials. Super environmentally conscious! You can send your old mat back and they will give you 10% off a new one. They are releasing a new line of coloured mats in the near future. Their travel mat is 3lbs and 3mm thick.
Get it on Amazon
Shakti Warrior Yoga Mat**
Material: Cork, Hemp, rubber, vegan suede
Measurements: 72″x24″ thickness?
Alignment aid: Yes
Slipperiness: Many very grippy mats to choose from
Warranty: 15Days return policy
The Shakti warrior mat offers a great up-cycling program for your old yoga mat. They turn old yoga mats into shoes for underprivileged kids. Their non toxic yoga mat come in a variety of materials, colours, sizes, and thickness. They make their non toxic yoga mats from hemp, cork, rubber, and ‘vegan suede’. Their vegan suede option is made from plastic bottles. Absolutely love that this company is using hemp a highly renewable resource and biodegradable! Not in love with the return policy and lack of warranty. Definitely some great in studio mats and the best yoga mats for van life might be their ‘suede’ travel mat available in 1mm thickness. They also have 15% off for email list subscribers.
Get it from Amazon
Urbivore Yoga Mat
Material: Sustainable, ethically sourced cork
Measurement: 72″x24″ 4mm thick
Weight: waiting to find out
Alignment aid: Yes
slipperiness: Good Grippage
Love the branding here. Mats are gorgeous grippy, sustainable, antimicrobial, and self cleaning! This company is planting trees all over the world. NO plastic used in shipping. Some really beautiful designs and a gorgeous macrame yoga mat strap!
Gurus Roots Yoga Mat by I Love Gurus
Material: Sustainable and Ethically sourced Cork
Measurements: 72″ x 25″ 5mm thick
Alignment aid: No
slipperiness: Cork like grippage
Warranty: Free returns and exchanges within 30 days
When you buy a mat from this company they plant a tree. From what I read I’m really digging the concept of a cork yoga mat. I would love to not have to carry around my mat towel any longer. Would love to save the laundry time of washing that towel as well. This company is definitely environmentally conscious. Price is comparable to other companies. 15% off for new clients.
Jade Yoga – EXTRA Thick Fusion Mat **
Material: Renewable Rubber
Measurements: 68″ or 74″ x 24″ (available in XL as well). 8mm thick
Alignment aid: No
slipperiness: Reviews say Good Grippage
price: $70- $145US
These folks have a Canadian and a US distributor, Yay me! Made in the US from natural rubber trees. Ethically produced. I love the 8m thickness, it’s the thickest I have found so far! These folks are onboard the buy a mat plant a tree system and have already planted over two million trees. It comes in purple, as well as other colours, but not the eye catching design my soul yearns for! Their best yoga mats for van life are 1/8″ thick and weigh just over 3lbs. They also have a really beautiful Yoga rug made from recycled Saris.
Get it from Amazon
Gaiam Performance Cork Mandala **
Material: Cork but other styles available in Jute, Rubber, TPE, Latex Free
Measurement: 68″x24″ 5mm thick
Alignment aid: yes
slipperiness: Cork Grippage
Warranty: Lifetime guarantee with stipulations
Pretty deep 20% off for new email sign-ups! I like that. The price point for these mats is actually the lowest I have seen so far. When you buy a mat from these folks you get unlimited access to their online yoga library. They have several different non toxic yoga mat materials to choose from. I’m looking at the Premium Reversible purple illusion mat for myself.
Buy from Manufacturer directly for 20% off.
Buy from Amazon
Yoga Design Lab Cork Yoga Mat
Material: Renewable Cork, non Amazonian tree rubber base
Measurements: 70″x24″ 3.5mm
Alignment aid: Not on the Cork, but on their “combo mats”
Slipperiness: Cork mat grippage
Price: $112 but a onsite for $84 at time of writing this
Warranty: 30 days unused original condition unknown who pays for shipping
I do like it when they include a carry strap, I really like it when you can use the carry strap during practice! I live tiny I love things that are dual-purpose. The reviews are pretty good except for people commenting that this mat is thin, for travel and whatnot, the weight of this is considerably lower than other cork mats. Their Rubber mats are biodegradable which I love!
Buy from Amazon
Hugger Mugger Para Rubber Yoga Mat
Material: natural non Amazonian rubber
Measurements: 70″x24″ 1/4″thick
slipperiness: dual grip textures
Warranty: 30 day refund on unused items shipping at your cost
This yoga mat has dual gripping surfaces. One side is tiny rubber bumps for dry grip, and the solid-coloured side is a woven texture for hot yoga slip and slides. They do have some nice colours and I like the dual grip feature. The website shows some great reviews one or two negative reports about grip and some odour reports. Their travel mat is only $25 and 1/16″thick weighing only 1.4 lbs. The smallest one I have found so far. You can fold it or tight roll it.
Buy from Amazon
Material: Natural cork and non toxic recycled rubber
Measurements: 72″x26″ 6.5mm thick
Alignment aid: yes
Slipperiness: Cork grippage
Warranty: free 30 day return shipping for US.
They make a nomad version that is thin and light for yoga on the go. The price of these is a little high for me to be honest. They really do have some gorgeous designs though. They have a really great try-before-you-buy system that lets you test all 4 cork mats before you commit to one. I do love that! Handcrafted responsibly in the USA. The reviews are ALL positive.
buy from Amazon
Popflex Cloud Fusion
Material: Synthetic rubber and Vegan suede
Measurements: 72″x24″ .5″ thick
Alignment aid: No
slipperiness: gets grippier as you sweat
price: 114 for Cloud thickness, 86 for regular
Warranty: Free US exchanges unused, original condition, 30 days. 5.95 shipping fee.
A friend first recommended this brand to me. I have included them for that reason, they did not make the top 10 list of any other websites. I like the thickness of the cloud version and the fact it claims to get more grippy with sweat. They have really fun patterns and bright colours. I like that the mat comes with a carry strap and you can buy a full set of matching accessories.
Yoga Tribe Europe
Material: Organic Jute and Tree Rubber
Measurements: 72″ x 24″ 4mm
Alignment aid: Yes
Slipperiness: Dual grip sides.
Warranty: 14 day refund you pay shipping, manufacture 1 year replacement on anything other than normal wear and tear.
They only ship to Europe. Sorry y’all. For my European tribe, this one is for you! They seem to have really great customer service. The yoga mats are beautiful.
My Top 3
I narrowed it down to the following three. I like a thicker mat because I have sensitive knees. I also tend to be a bit of a sweater because most of my studio practice is hot yoga. I almost always use a mat towel over my yoga mat but I wanted something easy to keep clean. I’d love to find a mat that doesn’t require a towel! Time will tell I guess. Shakti Warrior, Gaiam Performance Cork Mandala, and the Canadian Scoria Mat. I’m going to try one of the traditional mats to keep in my van when I’m on the road. I’ll be doing yoga outside I’m sure, not enough room to do Yoga in the van, although I have managed many times!
I chose Shakti Warrior because there were so many great options to choose from. They offer 15% off if you join their email program. They have all sorts of materials you can choose from. They have extra long and extra wide yoga mats, they have non-toxic and natural rubber mats, they are very ecologically friendly and even have a hemp yoga mat. I have ordered the
I chose the Gaiam brand of yoga mat because they have a great selection and a great eco friendly company policy. I really like their price point and they offer 20% off if you join their email list. They have a helpful quiz for choosing the right yoga mat for your practice. I just ordered the Premium Reversible Purple Illusion Yoga mat. I’ll post a detailed review once I receive it.
I chose Scoria because they are really beautiful and Canadian. One must support local whenever one can!!! Am I right?! They have a cork mat designed for travel.
Best Cleaning Methods
You can also use a mild, non toxic homemade cleaner for your yoga mat ( I recommend water-diluted vinegar, with a little lavender & tea-tree oil), then rinse. Hang in the SHADE to protect it from the suns harmful rays. Hang it over your Van bay doors if its a warm day outside.
What to do with your old yoga mat?
79% of all yoga mats are made of PVC, a toxic consumer plastic. From an environmental standpoint, PVC is a nightmare. PVC is hardly recycled, and when incinerated or buried in landfills it releases carcinogens.The first step is to choose a yoga mat that won’t just end up in the landfill. Check with your local recycle depot for advice about what kind of yoga mat you have and where it can be recycled. If it can’t be recycled, try upcycling it. Here are are few ideas:
- DIY Flip Flops: Cut your yoga mat into the shape of flip flops, glue or sew them to a base, and add straps to make your own custom flip flops.
- Pet Mats: Cut your yoga mat into smaller pieces and use them as a comfortable and durable mat for your furry friend.
- Drawer Liners: Cut your yoga mat to fit the bottom of drawers to keep items from sliding around.
- Knee Pads: Cut two small pieces and attach them to the knees of your pants to create comfortable knee pads for gardening or other activities.
- Mouse Pad: Cut a small piece of your yoga mat and use it as a mouse pad for your computer.
- Coasters: Cut your yoga mat into small squares and use them as coasters to protect your table from scratches and spills.
- Cushions: Cut your yoga mat into a rectangle or square shape, wrap it in fabric, and sew it to create a cushion for outdoor or indoor seating.
- Non-slip Rug Pad: Use your yoga mat as a non-slip rug pad to keep your rugs from sliding around on hardwood or tile floors.
- Resistance Band: Cut your yoga mat into a long strip and use it as a resistance band for exercise.
- Insoles: Cut your yoga mat to the size of your shoe insoles and insert them for added comfort and support.
- Van life mattress pad
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