Subway eliminated yoga mat chemical but many others still use it

The Environmental Working Group’s food database turns up nearly 500 supermarket foods that contain azodicarbonamide, a chemical found in yoga mats and rubber soles of shoes.
Earlier this month, Subway announced it was removing azodicarbonamide, a chemical that bleaches flour and conditions dough, from its bread products. The chemical isn’t used only in food products; it can also be found in yoga mats and rubber soles. It’s banned in many other countries because it can cause respiratory problems.

Subway isn’t the only food chain that used the chemical in its bread products. McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Arby’s and Starbucks all have some foods that contain it, and it looks like many of those companies are working to eliminate it now.

Today, the Environmental Working Group released a list of nearly 500 products that contain azodicarbonamide. These products don’t come from fast-food chains. They come from the grocery store shelves.

I won’t post the entire list here. You can head to the EWG site for that. But, it’s a good list to look at and familiarize yourself with if you’re concerned about eliminating azodicarbonamide from your diet. Several brands of hot dogs and hamburger buns come up on the list. Since there are a few signs of spring finally happening and we all think about firing up our grills, which brands contain the chemical might be something you want to know.

Azodicarbonamide “is not known to be toxic to people in the concentration approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration,” but workers who are around large volumes of it have “reported respiratory symptoms and skin sensitization.” The chemical has not been extensively tested for any harmful health results.

There are big names on the list like Pillsbury, Sara Lee and Wonder, although it’s only a few of their products that contain the chemical. Shoprite, the grocery store that’s closest to me, has it 24 of their products.

Credit: Robin Shreeves

Repurposing yoga mats is huge

It’s hard to imagine a yoga studio without colorful yoga mats lined up on the floor. But the helpful, sticky pads have only been around since the ’60s.

London-born yoga teacher Angela Farmer suffered from a rare disorder that didn’t let her hands and feet sweat. As a teenager, she was practicing with the famous yogi B.K.S. Iyengar on a wood floor in winter and it was so dry she kept slipping. He wouldn’t let her use anything under her to stop her sliding or put water on her hands to help her stick to the floor. Later, while practicing in Germany, she cut out a piece of carpet cushion and the yoga mat was born.

There’s always been backlash against the yoga mat, but it’s a challenge to practice without one. Being without a mat makes you work in a more concise way, and a less showboaty way, because you have to use your own body to support the base of the pose instead of the stickiness of the mat.

So if you decide to quit using your mat, what do you do with all the mats you’ve acquired through the years? Or maybe your mat is just plain worn out. It doesn’t seem right to just throw it away. How can you repurpose your yoga mat? Here are a few ideas.

Cut them into bright stair treads for the way down to the basement or up to the kids’ rooms.
Use them in the garden to block weeds as you cultivate and reclaim new beds.
Form and Fauna makes shoes out of used yoga mats and Sanuk makes sandals.
Cut them into squares and keep them on hand to open tough jars.
Use them under furniture to keep it from scratching the floor or sliding around.
Use them as drawer liners.
Use one as a doorstop.
Line kitchen shelves.
Or line the shelves in your workshop.
Cut off a corner, clean it well (you can put it in the dishwasher) and roll it up to use as a stopper for a wine bottle.
Put a cut piece under the dog bowl.
Use them under paper as puppy pads when training your new puppy.
Line the bottom of your trash can.
Put them under throw rugs or carpet runners so they don’t slip.
Cut out a foot bed and use it as an insole liner of your shoes for extra cushioning.
Put a piece under your drain tray.
Use to stop the drain in the bathtub or sink.
Cut out a large square to put on top of the fridge so that you can use that space for storage and then whisk it off for easy cleaning of hard-to-reach dust bunnies.
Put them under planters to absorb overflow water.
Line your bookshelves to keep the books from sliding off a half-filled row.
Put the whole mat down in the bathtub to keep you from slipping in the shower.
Use in your potting shed for easy cleanup and to keep potting soil from going to waste: Just scoop up the whole mat and dump the spilled soil back in the bag.
Use as a crop cover on frost warning nights.
Use as a portable baby-changing table.
Cut them into floor mats for the car.
Have an art day with the kids and cut the edges into fun patterns for placemats. They also make colorful pads for underneath art projects, and they clean up quick with a wet sponge.
Use as a ground cloth for camping — under your tent or under your sleeping bag
Use as a picnic blanket at outdoor yoga festivals.
Use as an impromptu umbrella in a rainstorm. (I’ll admit it: I’ve done this!)
However you choose to practice, whether on the mat or off, choose to do something practical with your old mat. Keep them out of the landfill, and keep them sparking yoga conversations in the strangest of places.



As men, we’ve all had a moment when we thought that yoga didn’t look like exercise. It doesn’t even really look like warming up. Then, we tried it and discovered to our horror how hard it was to contort into positions that nature never intended. We now know that yoga is an important part of any fitness regiment in that it increases flexibility, mental focus, and muscle definition so we can get that sculpted look. While yoga doesn’t require much equipment, having the right yoga mat is still important and can change your workout.

During the early rise of the modern yoga craze, when it was mostly done by a few scarecrow women in back rooms while everyone else did Tae Bo or sweated to the oldies, yoga mats came in an array of pastel colors that no guy could strap on, pretending it was a travel backpack. Now, the new set of yoga mats for guys – or brogamats as they are sometimes called after the popular company – are made with macho designs and crafted with men in mind. So that you can select the right tool to begin your bendy adventure, here’s the 5 best yoga mats.



Pro: Folds instead of rolling
Con: Can get slick with sweat

Road Warrior: Here’s what you do if you’re a new yogi: You buy this mat to kick off your practice the right way, then, when you have found enlightenment and inner peace, you get a nice professional mat while you use this as your travel yoga mat. It’s just under 3 lbs., making it a little on the heavy side for a to-go mat, but that extra weight comes from 4 mm of padding and up to 72″ in length which makes it comfortable on any floor and long enough for most people. For quick travel it folds rather than rolls up to fit in a suitcase or hiking backpack and comes with its own little purse eco-friendly travel tote. It’s hyper-allergenic since it doesn’t use any latex in the construction. When you aren’t practicing, you can also use the folded body as a cushion for meditation. It isn’t quite as sticky as some, but still doesn’t let you glide away, though you may want to couple it with a yoga towel if you’re a hot yoga aficionado.



Pro: Moisture wicking material
Con: Made of PVC

Most for the Money: First note that this just looks badass. With a body that has a mandala-style design that looks like something a Buddhist biker would have emblazoned on his motorcycle jacket, it’s damn cool. The Dry-Grip uses a closed cell material that is antimicrobial so that bacteria can’t live on it which reduces odors and the need for cleaning while also preventing you from contracting anything from a public yoga class where bodies are turning the room into a petri dish. With a moisture wicking PVC upper layer that uses wicking technology to actually grip harder when covered with sweat, you will never suddenly take a nose dive when moving from plank (Kumbhakasana) into low push-up (Chaturanga Dandasana / Ashtanga Namaskara). Works equally well for high and low impact routines because you’ll stick to this like flypaper. For padding, it is a full 5 mm thick, which is a nice height for cushioning without interrupting your balance. Our sole beef with this was that it was too short without the option of getting one in the 70″+ range. This is an ideal choice if you’re trying to get away from Lululemon’s slightly racist CEO or need a solid mat intermediate mat without latex.



Pro: Sticky even when sweaty
Con: Includes latex

All Natural: Yoga can just be used for fitness, but it is meant to be an entire change in your lifestyle and way of thinking. If you really want to get a yoga mat that will help you expand your spiritual horizons and try to find greater fitness for your soul, rather than just your body, then you’ll want to get this completely natural, eco-friendly mat that manages to be both good for the environment and for your practice. Kindness to mother earth is not all that the Eco Mat has going for it, it also excels at staying sticky even when covered with sweat thanks to the natural rubber and jute fabric that comprise the top layer. The underside doesn’t slip or slide when placed on any kind of floor, from hardwood to linoleum. It’s 4 mm thick which gives it a moderate amount of cushioning that works with any kind of yoga practice. At 4.5 lbs. it is a little on the heavy side and those with a latex allergy will need to avoid it, but it’s durable enough to go the distance, even if you’re a yogi that practices every day. Comes in both 72″ and 84″ models.



Pro: Lifetime guarantee
Con: Heavy

Big and Bad: Manduka yoga mats are considered by many yoga instructors to be the final word in the industry and the Black Pro stands out even among these as a force to be reckoned with. We liked it most of all because not only was it a great mat with a lifetime guarantee that shows the company’s dedication to their product, but it is nice and long for guys who are over 6 feet and don’t want their heels hitting the floor during corpse pose (Savasana / Mrtasana). It is 85″ long and 26″ wide (shorter 71″ models are available) with a thickness of more than 6 mm and weighing in at 8.5 lbs., so it’s a beast to carry around. Made of PVC material it starts off slick, but after a month of regular use you’ll find it gives traction without being sticky, even when covered in sweat. The materials used aren’t all natural, which turn some people off, but since it is meant to be with you for life the notion is that it will never need to enter a landfill since it will outlive you.



Pro: Diagram helps with accurate posing
Con: Expensive

Instructions Included: The best thing about the Liforme mats is that they have a diagram right on the surface so that even if you’ve never been to a yoga class in your life you can still get your poses perfect. This helps prevent strain and injury as well as getting the most out of your yoga routine so that all the grunting, sweating, and down-dogging gives you the best results. Using a combination of rubber and felt these are very soft which is important when your knees, elbow, or tailbone hits the floor. The patented “Grip For Me” material they use for the mat is a trade secret, but it works, whatever it is, and doesn’t slide under you or cause you to pull a muscle should your back leg go rogue and hit a sweaty spot. The material is environmentally friendly, right down to the helpful designs printed on it, which are etched rather than inked with caustic chemicals. A little longer and wider than standard, they work for just about anyone.

How Siri is this? A yoga mat that talks to you

Today marks the Indiegogo campaign launch of the SmartMat. You thought that every single household object and sporting device had already been injected with smartness? Not the yoga mat. Or, at least, not with this much smartness.

SmartMat claims to be “the first comprehensive, portable, AI yoga mat, fit with Bluetooth pressure sensors that track yogis’ alignment/balance and offer real time adjustments seamlessly via SmartMat’s corresponding app for iOS and Android.”

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We could all do with real-time adjustment. But are we ready to be get down on our yoga mat, in some tiny corner of our New York garret, and listen to a lady’s dulcet diction discuss our “downward dog?” (This thing hooks up to your phone or tablet.)

SmartMat’s founder Neyma Jahan believes he and his engineers have exercised mind over mat.

He explained: “We built SmartMat because we wanted a way to receive personalized yoga instruction without having to go to an outside class or hire a private teacher. SmartMat synchs with and analyzes each user via a unique calibration process, providing the kind of custom biofeedback once exclusive to private lessons.”

But, wait, I said to Jahan. Doesn’t he fear that yoga teachers will launch staunch, perfectly postured protests?

His answer was predictably serene: “The reception from the yoga community has been amazing. Most yoga practitioners and teachers are excited for a tool that can act as a complementary guide to their practice that helps people deepen their alignment and get closer to their bodies.”

In either case, engineering wins and and he’s proud of SmartMat’s design. He said his engineers had trained the AI by reverse learning.

He told me: “We put 20 SmartMats down in a studio and had a teacher lead a class with people of different abilities and body types. As they do each pose, our engineer records that pose and also records that this is how x, y, z body type/ability performs that pose. This adds to our pose recognition database so the computer can establish a baseline for exactly what a downward dog looks like.”

He got his team together after he began to learn yoga on a Wii and wanted to have something more sophisticated to guide his body at home. Now he’s offering the SmartMat for $247 (a limited offering) and $297 (the standard price).

This is not, he insists, a one-size-fits-all. Instead, it’s able to calibrate to the quirky little package the good Lord gave you in order to be your perfect individual guide.

Still, though, I worry about one more piece of technology trampling all over a sacred human pursuit.

Jahan soothed my temples. He said: “In the original ‘yoga,’ the physical movement aspects was some guy doing shoulder stands in a loincloth to get a break from long hours of meditation. If you showed that guy packed studios with 50 people packed in sweating to music, he would think that is great, but probably would not associate it with his ‘yoga.'”

I wonder, though, how many angry yoga teachers watching their businesses erode like humanity’s other-directedness. Will they adopt the mountain pose and execute a high lunge toward Jahan? I hope he’s well insured.

Source: CNet

Subway to remove chemical found in yoga mats from its bread

Subway announced this week its plans to remove the controversial chemical Azodiacarbonamide from its bread products, USA Today reported.

“We are already in the process of removing Azodiacarbonamide as part of our bread improvement efforts despite the fact that it is USDA- and FDA-approved ingredient,” the company said in a statement. “The complete conversion to have this product out of the bread will be done soon.”

Though the company said the removal process has been ongoing, the announcement coincides with an online petition started by health activist Vani Hari, who runs the site According to Hari, the chemical is also commonly used in products like yoga mats and rubber shoes to increase elasticity.

“It’s banned all over the globe, because it’s linked to respiratory issues, allergies and asthma,” Hari wrote in her petition.  “This is not ‘eating fresh!’”

Hari considers the company’s decision to remove Azodiacarbonamide’s from its products a great victory for health advocacy.

“I commend Subway for finally responding to me and now over 58,000 concerned citizens. Their swift action is a testament to what power petitions and individuals can have,” Hari told USA Today in an email. “I’d like to note that current Subway sandwiches still have this ingredient, and I urge everyone not to eat their sandwich bread until they have finally removed the chemical.”


Yoga Mat Cleaner Spray By Yoginiology Voted Best All-Natural Choice

One of the tenants of yoga is to clean the body, soul, and mind, which is difficult to do on a dirty mat. Yoga mat cleaner is the obvious solution to the problem, but it can be hard finding one that works. And it’s more than just being effective, a good mat cleaner spray should smell great, be all natural, and easy and convenient to use. Yoginiology’s recently launched product seems to hit all of those marks and more and was voted the best cleaning solution by yogis across New Mexico. Now available on Amazon (anyone can use special discount code: SMALLSAT at checkout on all day during November 30th to recieve an additional 30% discount for Small Business Saturday), the spray can be purchased by anyone interested in keeping his or her yoga mat in tip-top shape.

Julie Schoen, founder of Yoginiology and a professional yoga instructor in Albuquerque, New Mexico, created the unique formula yoga mat cleaner with organic lavender after being dissatisfied with other products she had tried over the years. “I’ve spent a lot of money on cleaning products for yoga mats,” she says, “but never found one that I loved or would recommend to my students.” Schoen says that among the issues she experienced the worst were the products that actually ruined her mat. “Mats are expensive so when you see the surface actually deteriorate before your eyes it is beyond frustrating.”

Yoginiology’s Yoga Mat Cleaner Spray is made with orange citrus oil and lavender essential oil from Schoen’s favorite organic and sustainable farm just outside Albuquerque. (She loves the farm so much that is actually where she and her husband of three years were married.) The finished product has a fantastic smell, but one that is not so overpowering that it can’t be used in class. The 8-ounce spray bottle is just the right size, lasting several months before needing a refill. Made completely in the United States, the spray bottle itself is both recyclable and biodegradable, making it the smart choice for yogis and the planet.