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Yoga practitioners: your yoga mat might be hurting your natural fertility

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Yoga is great for lowering blood pressure and reducing insomnia, toning your body and strengthening your core, and even boosting fertility. But for yoga practitioners who are trying (and failing!) to get pregnant, recent research shows that the one thing that’s keeping them from conceiving might be their yoga mats. Here’s why…

The chemicals in your yoga mat are affecting your fertility

According to a study conducted by Harvard researchers, women who regularly practice yoga are highly exposed to organophosphate flame retardants (PFRs), which negatively affect their levels of fertility. After looking at the participants’ urine samples, researchers found that 87% of these women had BDCIPP in their bodies, 94% had DPHP, and 80% had ip-PPP.

In the study, participants who had the most PFRs had lower fertility levels on all counts. Firstly, they were 10% less likely to achieve fertilization. In addition to this, they were also 31% less likely to have an embryo successfully implant in the uterus, 41% less likely to achieve pregnancy, and 38% less likely to have a live birth.

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How do these chemicals get in our yoga mats, and how do they affect our bodies?

PFRs are used to make objects less flammable. In the context of yoga mats, here’s how it works: flame retardants are mixed into the base of your yoga mat, but they sometimes end up contaminating the exterior of the mat in which they’re supposed to be contained in. Studies have shown that these flame retardants disrupt the thyroid and sex hormones in animals, and whilst the specific mechanisms of how these affect our fertility levels isn’t clear, we do know that it does reduce our chances of getting pregnant (and having live births).

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How do you avoid the PFRs in your yoga mat?

PFRs move easily from the foam on your yoga mats to your hands and body through contact and even via the air that you breathe – so it’s tough to minimize your exposure to PFRs by switching up the way your yoga routine.

That having been said, what you can do is to replace your mat altogether. Look for an organic option which doesn’t contain any chemicals – popular options include the Manduka eKO Lite Mat, which is made from biodegradable, non-Amazon-harvested, natural tree rubber, or the Prana E.C.O. Yoga Mat, a recyclable yoga mat which is PVC, chlorine and latex free.

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