Rooted in ancient South Asian philosophy, yoga is a diverse spiritual tradition that aims to integrate body and mind to attain enlightenment. In the Western world, yoga also fuses meditation with movement, but it has morphed into a form of exercise that promotes overall health and wellbeing. Ironically, the typical yoga mat is made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a solid plastic softened by phthalates—chemicals linked to several health issues from asthma to infertility. To ensure that your yoga routine supports your health—and that of the planet—check out these alternative, eco-friendly Canadian yoga brands.
Scoria World Yoga
Founded by Yara Kamal when she was just 23, Toronto-based Scoria World Yoga promotes the playful curiosity of childhood, helping people revive their creativity through artistic and sustainable products. Scoria gained momentum—and built a widespread global community—through a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2017, and the company has been growing steadily ever since. Its distinctive cork mats are antimicrobial and backed with ethically harvested natural tree rubber. Not only are they comfortable, self-cleaning, and biodegradable, but Scoria mats come in a wide range of designs inspired by kids’ imaginations, and the sale of each mat donates 10 meals to Feeding Children Everywhere.
Through their blossoming online community, Toronto-based sisters Rebekah and Emily Okashimo emphasize the benefits of a minimalist and mindful approach to life. Urbivore also sells cork mats with natural-rubber-based backing as an alternative to harmful PVC-based products, and for every purchase made, Urbivore plants a tree through its collaboration with One Tree Planted. In addition to promoting a conscious, sustainable ethos, Urbivore’s products do not require the cutting of cork oak forests—which boast one of the highest levels of biodiversity among forest habitats and absorb an estimated 14 million tons of carbon dioxide each year—because the materials are only taken from the outer layers of the trees.
Dusky Leaf Yoga
For more than a decade, partners Jon Makkai and Maggie Huang have provided the Canadian yoga community with affordable options for an Earth-friendly practice. A favourite among individual practitioners and instructors alike, Dusky Leaf’s hypoallergenic Eco Yoga Mats are made from a biodegradable, non-toxic resin certified by OEKO-TEX, the world’s leading human-ecological safety mark for textiles. Though inexpensive, Dusky Leaf products are of extremely high quality, embodying the company’s mission to honor the connection between one’s inner nature and nature of the outside world.
Yoga Design Lab
Toronto-born Chad Turner started Yoga Design Lab while vacationing in Bali, after noticing an endless expanse of drab plastic mats surrounding him at a yoga class. Inspired by the vibrant, lively colours of the island, Turner vowed to create a company devoted to visually stunning, Earth-friendly yoga gear. With a broad variety of styles and levels of thickness, Yoga Design Lab mats feature cork, natural tree rubber, and/or microsuede fibres made from recycled plastic bottles, some of which culminate in a unique mat/towel hybrid that reduces slipping and injury. Every design is printed with non-toxic water-based inks, and each mat is machine washable.
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