Yoga is your opportunity to carve out some personal time and put aside to-do lists, work, and errands. It diminishes stress, boosts your mood, and strengthens your body. Because of all of these amazing benefits, it's a completely wholesome and healthy activity, right? Well, yes and no.
According to Well + Good, a new study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives shows the possible risks of a daily yoga flow. But don't worry, it's not the yoga itself you have to worry about; it's the surface that you are doing it on.
That's right, your yoga mat could be harming your body without you even realizing it. It's all due to the special flame-retardant coating that many yoga mats have. After analyzing the urine from 211 women undergoing IVF therapy, researchers discovered that those women who had higher concentrations of flame-retardant chemicals in their systems were less likely to become pregnant or have a successful delivery. The scary part is, that these chemicals are on many household items, including, possibly, your yoga mat.
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According to the article, these chemicals can infiltrate your system through direct contact and even your breath. (Lying down on your yoga mat in the Shavasana pose might not be as beneficial as you think). So if you're spending hours a week perfecting your practice on a flame-retardant mat, you might be exposing yourself to harmful chemicals often and for long periods of time.
The researchers advocate for doing away with flame-retardant materials and opting for safer alternatives (especially if you're trying to become pregnant). "Couples undergoing IVF and trying to improve their chances of success by reducing their exposure to environmental chemicals may want to opt for products that are flame-retardant free,” senior author Russ Hauser, professor of reproductive physiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said in a press release.
Luckily, there are steps you can take to protect yourself. Focus on using only all-natural or organic yoga mats. In short, do your research before you purchase any old mat off of the internet. It's the least you can do to minimize potential health risks.