My last blog was about yoga mats and now I’m at it again.

Today at class the teacher corrected my mat. That is she said I was practising on the wrong side and asked that I turn it over to the correct side.

I must confess to being a little surprised by it all. I sudden felt for my loyal mat. I imagined it with a face on the smooth side that for all these years had been squashed to the floor rather than looking out. She explained it was counterintuitive she realised to practise on the smooth side of a mat when there was a textured bumpy side that you would think, would be stickier. But she felt this was the right way for a yoga mat.

Yoga mats do become personal. It is your own space. It provides protection from a harsh floor and hygiene too. It is secure and grounding. Some even describe it as a magic carpet that slips you away to somewhere else. I love that.

Although I must admit, I have noticed that my hands do sometimes slip on the rough side, I have always associated this with hot sweaty hands. Many Ashtangi’s use chalk on their hands to help this problem.

Anyway, I was happy to try.

I tested out Warrior 2 (Virabhadrasana) Extended Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana) on the smooth side, as they are both wide leg postures that you are sure to feel a slip if it’s there and so far so good. I think I would have liked to try a Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svana) as that is often my hand slip posture which would definitely have served as tester for this theory but we didn’t actually do another one in the class that day.

I can report I did quite like the smooth side.

It felt more like a natural surface. Once I have tried the downward dog test I will let you know my final verdict.

However, I also felt I hadn’t just flipped my mat but was actually ‘flipping out’. Had I really got it wrong for all these years? Such a simple thing and yet all I have know – awkward!

Google it I thought. So I did!

After much searching, it seems the yoga mat side is based purely on preference! There is a right and wrong side to some mats according to the manufacturer. Companies often decorate or place a logo on the side they regards as the ‘right side’. 9 times out of 10 this is the bumpy side and not the smooth. Others have blogged about this too Click here.

Overall opinion regardless of any recommendation it seems is that if you don’t like it, flip it, it’s fine!

More interestingly, all this searching led me on to a greater mat dilemma.

The textures and designs of mats are often to do with what they are actually made of.

And some are TOXIC.

You know how I love healthier products so this intrigued me. I have again never really thought about this before. What is wrong with me? But now I know, I am going to have to do something about it.

Traditional mats constructed from PVC (polyvinyl chloride) include the carcinogen vinyl chloride. They also use plasticisers to make them sticky and pliable and therefore may have phthalates in them too. I know about phthalates from my health and wellness business and how they are present in many of our body care products that we use everyday and I’m not a fan. Some companies use clean PVC that do not have these toxins, but this is a fairly new addition and may be need substantiating.

Healthier Options

1. Rubber mats – many use sustainable rubber trees.
2. Plant fibre mats – jute, hemp or cotton with many not even using pesticides during growth.

I have rambled enough and I’m off to the shops or to do some more on-line shopping to buy a healthier yoga mat.

What are your thoughts? Or is it just me eek!

Next time I’ll discuss what other things to think about when buying your humble yoga mat, after all it will be with you for many years, faithfully being trodden on, sweated on, squashed, rolled up, sometimes neglected and even peed on by your beloved puppy!

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