Yoga: The Union of You and the Planet

practicing yoga on mats

Sarah Smarsh and Simran Sethi are writing a series on the impacts of everyday things. They will be posting previews on Green Options before launching the posts on Huffington Post.

Who doesn’t feel better after a yoga class? Yoga is the union of the body, mind and spirit.It stabilizes the nervous system, decreases blood pressure, increases flexibility and endurance, and opens you up in ways that you may not have imagined.

Simran used to be a yoga teacher. She loves the practice even though she hasn’t spent much time on her mat lately. (“Yoga on the inside, baby!”) Sarah gets her yoga on every week and knows it does her body good.

But, as any student knows, the real practice starts when you walk out the door. That’s also where the rubber hits the road and your practice takes its toll on the environment.

Oh brother, that again? Yes, my dear yogin, that.

The majority of yoga mats are manufactured in Taiwan and made of poly-vinyl chloride, or PVC. PVC makes a great mat due to its grip, durability and price point. But, unfortunately, there is no safe way to create, use or destroy these mats.

PVC isn’t just in yoga mats. It’s in kids toys (which may soon change), sex toys, shower curtains, fake Christmas trees, IV bags and more. That new car (or new yoga mat) smell is the scent of plastic softened with pthalates and stabilized with lead and cadmium.

PVC became the plastic of choice because it’s cheap, but considering the impacts on environmental and human health, it’s actually priceless. PVC can’t be recycled due to the toxins embedded within it, and when it’s incinerated or buried in landfills it releases dioxin, a known carcinogen. Pthalates have been known to impact boy bits in utero and swimmers once the boys become men, and lead and cadmium damage our brains and never break down. Not exactly the impermanence we’re after in yoga.

Read more on the Huffington Post.

Thanks to the University of Kansas School of Journalism and Lacey Johnston for research assistance.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Written by simran_sethi

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