I don't know about you, but I love my yoga mat and use it every day. But all of that love is taking its toll. Already it's starting to look pock-marked and pitted. And while I intend to use it until it's on the verge of disintegration, at some point I'll need to retire it. I think of it rather like the beautiful horse my daughter rides, who will someday be too old to take her weight and will have earned a few gentle years grazing in a grassy pasture.
So what do you do with your yoga mat, if you don't want it decomposing in the local landfill? With all of the effort we make to be kind to the earth, it seems counterproductive to muck it up with the very products that help us practice our values.
I'm happy to say that there are alternatives. Many thanks to Yoga Journal, which recently circulated an article titled Mat Happy which addresses this very issue. Yoga Journal offers a number of excellent suggestions – which captivated us here at ChildLight Yoga enough that we decided to reproduce their article in it its entirety for our blog readers. If you're handy with a hot glue gun, here are instructions on how to make flip flops out of your old yoga mat. For those who would appreciate information about manufacturers of non-PVC mats, please read Mat Matters by Cynthia Morris, at Yoga Journal online.
And, to keep your yoga mat in tip-top condition for as long as possible, check out these easy care instructions for keeping your mat clean.
So use your yoga mat well – now, and later!
Sooner or later, your yoga mat will need replacing. After it cushions its final Child's Pose, you might try the following ideas for keeping it out of the landfill. Eric Levenstein, a yoga teacher at the Mountain Lakes, New Jersey, YMCA, recycles sticky mats throughout his house. He cuts them to make nonskid pads for cushioning hallway carpet runners and for anchoring the fabric on his baby's changing table. He scissors small squares to go under furniture legs and flowerpots (the mats are impermeable to water) and even tinier pieces to put behind picture frames or bulletin boards.
Abby Tucker, a teacher at Yoga Kula and 7th Heaven, in Berkeley, California, suggests using old mats as pads for your sleeping bag when you go camping; as drop cloths when painting; and as supplemental knee padding on top of your brand-new mat. "That extra padding is great for Ustrasana (Camel Pose) and low lunges," she says. The potential uses probably equal the number of yoga poses. Last year, Tucker says, she noticed a mat in the entryway of a local cafe. And many animal shelters use them as extra bedding for their animals.
Lisa Burk-McCoy, RYT200, is working toward a 500 hour teaching certificate in Classical Yoga from the YogaLife Institute. She also holds a prenatal yoga certification, and children's yoga certifications from ChildLight Yoga and Itsy Bitsy Yoga. Lisa currently serves as an instructor and business consultant for ChildLight Yoga. When not practicing yoga, she dabbles as a musician, playing flute in a local contra-dance band and teaching classical flute lessons to children and adults. She is blessed with a wonderful family–a husband, son and daughter, and a menagerie of pets. They make their home in Exeter, NH.