Anyone who has ever been in the market for a yoga mat knows there are innumerable options. What some people may not know, however, is that many yoga mats are made from polyvinyl chloride, commonly known as PVC, a synthetic plastic material that releases toxins like phthalates and volatile organic compounds, which are harmful to humans and the environment. This troubling fact is why Vincent Brown committed to producing environmentally friendly and non-toxic yoga mats through his Smithfield-based company, 2nd Wind Health.
A military veteran, Brown founded 2nd Wind Health when he realized the appeal of functional fitness. His company’s original mission was to sell fitness equipment and positively impact others by providing them with the means to establish a fitness routine. The company’s shift toward yoga, however, occurred when Brown broke his arm in a snowboarding accident.
Looking for a way to rehab after his injury, Brown followed his mother’s advice and turned to yoga. As he searched for a mat to purchase, he discovered the environmentally harmful materials in most yoga mats. “I then began to research different materials and figured I would make my own,” he says. He developed non-toxic, eco-friendly mats, and, after receiving positive reviews, turned his company’s focus to yoga. “I shifted the company entirely, realizing that yoga in itself can be exactly what I was trying to build: a platform where anyone can enter and then grow, adapting their practice to suit their needs and live the life they love longer.”
2nd Wind Health’s yoga mats are high-quality and have a trackable environmental impact while being free of glue and PVC. With every purchase, customers receive an email detailing where in the world the company plants trees or picks up plastic bottles. “2nd Wind shipments are all carbon neutral,” Brown adds, and mats are biodegradable while still having a long lifespan for the user. “As a company I want 2nd Wind to be more than just a mat – I want it to be a movement. I want people to hop on their mat and breathe easy knowing they are making a positive impact and are part of something far bigger than any one of us,” Brown explains, adding, “I think in order for us all to thrive, we need to make sustainability a priority.”
In addition to its environmental connection, 2nd Wind Health also caters to individual wants and needs, offering cork, sticky, and towel-infused yoga mats. As for those looking to get into yoga, Brown explains that, just like mat preferences, yoga itself is individual. With so many different types of yoga experiences offered, Brown suggests, “you need to figure out what you want from it.” His yoga studio, Phoenix Rising in Smithfield, has a one-month trial offer, and he encourages having conversations to learn about the best type of yoga for each person. Smithfield
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