I recently bought ten new mats for my classes here on Waiheke and did what practically every other yoga studio and school does which was buy pvc based mats … they are relatively cheap and last a while, quite sticky and not hard to clean.

I noticed a rather unpleasant odour as I opened them the first time, though it isn’t unusual for yoga mats to smell a little. I especially loved the green and blue colours.

However, during the second class I in which I used them a new student felt nauseous at the end and after some discussion we put it down to the odour the new mats were emitting. So I thought I would discuss the yoga mat issue a little further.

The best mat I have ever used is a Manduka Mat made of rubber using sustainable and ethical practices – beautifully heavy duty and sticky and supportive. I had an extra long one and it simply feels beautiful to practice on. After a couple of years the stickiness has worn off, so I’m saving up for another one soon. At $130+ a mat though, this sort of luxury doesn’t come cheap and it really isn’t financially viable to buy a dozen of these for my students.

I also came across this blog post by Auckland Yoga School The Yoga Tree, which had a nice comparison of the mats available out there.

I still have the pvc mats in my classes and I’m glad to say the odour is much much less as they have been used and aired, and I’ve had no complaints from students. I have also bought a couple of eco mats for students who are sensitive to smells and the pvc ones.

Buy your own mat, practice yoga at home

However, my recommendation is really to simply buy and bring your own yoga mat to class. It is more hygienic of course, and I think the investment is really worth it – spending a little money for your practice may may help to inspire more personal practice at home.

This is not to do myself out of a job or reduce my income, but I know that regular personal home practice offers greater benefits for your mind, body, health and spirit, and is something I as a teacher will always be aiming to encourage. Come to class to learn. Be on the mat at home to practice (it doesn’t have to be long), and your life will be enriched every day.

If you’re interested in buying a Manduka Mat, I recommend Eco Yoga Store.

Namaste, Neal

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