In the 1960s, yoga gained popularity in the West. The introduction of the so-called ‘sticky mat’ began with a yogini named Angela Farmer. She believed it would be more comfortable to use foam carpet as padding and created an innovative makeshift mat out of it.
By the 1990s, Sara Chambers had innovated a much durable and sturdy mat specifically designed for asana practice. The ‘sticky mat’ took hold in the modern yoga practice.
Yoga has since become a billion-dollar business. Mass-produced mats, machine-made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) or other extruded plastic-based materials have become more popular. They’ve been widely used today because of convenience.
PVC is made from reacting chlorine, carbon, and ethylene (a product of petrol) together. Later, phthalates are added to the mix to make it soft and pliable.
The basic raw materials for PVC are derived from salt and oil. The electrolysis of saltwater produces chlorine. The chlorine is then combined with ethylene that has been obtained from oil. The resulting element is ethylene dichloride, which is converted at very high temperatures to vinyl chloride monomer. This is all highly reliant on the use of fossil fuels.
The result is a cheap and cheerful yoga mat- but how long will it last? A PVC mat is initially a cheaper option, but over time, it can cost the yogi much more.