The first limb of Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga, Yama, contains the seeds of sustainable living. The Yamas are precepts for ethical living, and the first of these precepts is ahimsa (non-harming). Add to that three of the other Yamas—asteya (non-stealing or taking only what you need), brahmacharya (wise use of life energy) and aparigraha (non-greed), and conscious, sustainable living seems to be at the heart of Yoga practice.
In the early ’00s, we began exploring ways to use more eco-friendly materials in all our products. While none of our Tapas line of mats has ever contained the heavy metals and phthalates intrinsic to most PVC-based mats, we knew some of our customer base were interested in taking sustainability a step further. In 2005 we unveiled our Earth Elements 5 mm Mat.
Earth Elements yoga mats are made from a recently developed and patented foam called TPE (Thermal Plastic Elastomer). TPE contains no PVC and uses no toxic materials in its production. TPE also has no rubber, meaning it’s perfectly safe for those with latex sensitivities. TPE has a closed-cell structure, so liquids cannot penetrate it, making mold and mildew a non-issue. TPE requires less energy to produce than other mat materials and is fully biodegradable. Because of this, it requires a different kind of care than a PVC mat.
Unlike PVC and rubber which have a “wetter” feeling surface, TPE has a dry-sticky feel. TPE is a durable material, but you will find that it stretches more than other mats in poses such as Downward Facing Dog or standing poses. TPE is a great material for my particular body chemistry—dry skin. We’ve also had reports that it works well for people whose hands and feet tend to perspire.
Because these mats are biodegradable, they will eventually break down, but with proper care you can enjoy your Earth Elements Mat for years. I have an Earth Elements Mat from the very first batch from 2005. I used it for years as my “teaching mat” because it’s so lightweight and easy to carry when I walk to class. With the exception of a few kitty-claw marks—not the mat’s fault—it’s still in good condition, and just as sticky as it was when it was new.
One of the secrets to keeping your Earth Elements Mat in good condition is to keep it in a mat bag when you’re not using it, especially if you plan to leave it in your car. Because it is designed to biodegrade, TPE will break down if you leave it exposed to the hot sun. Storing it in a bag eliminates this problem.
Cleaning Your Earth Elements Mat
- Spray with our PureMat Mat and Gear Wash and wipe with a clean cloth or towel.
- Wipe down with a very dilute (1:20) solution of mild dish soap and water. Hang to dry.
- We don’t recommend putting your mat in the washing machine to wash it, and definitely don’t put it in the dryer, unless you’ve been wanting to have a reason to replace the drum inside your dryer. The heat from your dryer could cause the mat to get stuck to the inside.
- f you want to deep clean your mat, put it in a bathtub but don’t submerge it. Wipe it down with PureMat Wash or a dilute solution of mild dish soap and water.
Here’s a review of Earth Elements by health and fitness blogger Tara Burner. Read it here.
If you have any experiences with Earth Elements or tips on caring for TPE mats you’d like to share, please do! We love learning from our community.