How to Choose a Yoga Mat
If you want to get the most out of your daily yoga practice, you need to practice on the perfect yoga mat. But which one is right for you? There are so many different kinds of yoga mats on the market that it can be overwhelming trying to find the right one. When you are shopping for the ideal yoga mat, you can find many choices in colors, textures, materials, sizes, and thickness. A good yoga mat helps you get the most out of your workout. It maximizes comfort and stability. It’s also much easier to build a regular yoga practice in your life when you have the right equipment. So with that in mind, what mat will work best for you?
There are many different types of yoga mats, and there are many various reasons that someone would choose one over another. In selecting a yoga mat, you need to think about the type of surface you will be practicing on, your needs for storage and transport, your preference for natural materials, and the kind of support and grip you need from your mat.
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How to choose a yoga mat thickness
Depending upon your needs, you may choose to use a thin yoga mat, a medium thickness mat, or a thick yoga mat. The standard thickness for a yoga mat is about 1/8 inch thickness. But it all depends on the type of yoga practice you’re doing. Those comfy, thicker yoga mats, starting around 1/4 inches work best for aching joints, but they are heavier and tend to be more challenging to balance on. Thinner mats can give you better balance and groundedness. Thin mats will also work better with a more active vinyasa or flow styles as they won’t bunch up. Many yogis like using a thin mat with a yoga towel topper for hot yoga classes. The choice between the thicknesses is ultimately a matter of preference, comfort, and experience. New yogis will typically be more comfortable with a thinner, more flexible mat, while seasoned yogis may prefer the extra padding that a thicker, extra-thick yoga mat provides.
Where Will You Practice?
The yoga mat you use at home should be sturdy, well sized for your space, and usually used in a dedicated spot in your home, so weight is less of a factor here. If you spend a lot of time in classes and studios, a lighter travel mat will probably work best for you. These tend to be smaller, easier to roll up, lighter, and more portable.
If you are practicing on top of carpet, you will want a thinner and stiffer mat. Too much padding will make it challenging to balance, and a thick mat will bunch up on a carpeted floor. If you mostly practice in a yoga studio or on a hardwood floor, you might want something thicker or denser to provide padding for your knees and wrists.
How to choose a yoga mat material
Yoga mats come in all kinds of materials, from cork to natural rubber, to PVC. Top-quality yoga mats are made of natural latex rubber or polyvinyl chloride (PVC). These materials have different benefits. How will you know which works best for you? Natural rubber mats are made from natural latex and are pliable yet dense and durable. They are textured in order to provide traction and are very comfortable to use. Synthetic rubber mats are made from synthetic latex and are also pliable. They are more durable than natural rubber mats and provide great traction. Cork mats have a thin layer of natural cork on top of rubber or PVC. They are very durable and provide decent traction. Finally, there are yoga towels, generally made out of soft cotton or microfiber. These aren’t usually used on their own, as they create a soft top layer for your yoga mat to absorb sweat.
Stickiness and Texture
A good sticky yoga mat keeps you from sliding around as you’re switching poses. If you are doing hot yoga, you’ll want a yoga towel topper to soak up the sweat to prevent slipping and make cleaning easier. PVC is strong, sturdy, and very sticky but not great for the environment. However, a strong, natural rubber mat can give you the same super-strong traction while being a lot more sturdy and longer-lasting. Some mats will use different textures to provide a powerful grip to support your asanas. Your need for stickiness and texture will depend on the style of yoga you practice.
There are plenty of eco-friendly options for yoga mats. Many yogis use natural rubber mats, jute, cork, or even natural cotton, hemp, or wool. Some are made from recyclable materials and can be recycled themselves. Eco-friendly mats should not only be sustainable but should be longer-lasting and free of toxins. Some materials, like cotton and cork, even soak up sweat naturally. They need to be cleaned more often, but they tend to be healthier for your body, as well as the environment!
How to choose a yoga mat size
The size of your mat is all about what works best for your body and your yoga. Typically, mat dimensions are 68 x 24 inches, which works well for most students. If you’re on the tall side, a 72 or 74-inch long mat might work better for you. You can also purchase extra-wide mats if you prefer more space.
You should expect to find standard 1/8 inch thick, simple solid-colored PVC sticky mats to be the cheapest option. You can pay more for artistic designs, premium thickness; antimicrobial treatments; and cool textures, and raised tactile patterns. Eco-friendly, extra-wide, extra-long and thicker mats tend to be more expensive. For example, on Amazon, you’ll find several options for less than $15, but you can also spend over $100 for a famous brand’s high-quality yoga mat. Sometimes you pay more for a famous brand name, but a high-end mat should be of high enough quality to last a lifetime.
It is important to note that it is not necessary to buy a more expensive yoga mat in order to get a great mat. Just because a yoga mat is more expensive does not mean it will be better for your needs than a less expensive one. If you’re starting out, you don’t want to waste money on expensive equipment. A good basic sticky mat in standard size should meet your needs. Wait till you find a yoga practice you love to spend money on a high-end mat.
Style and design
Style and design are the last factors to decide on once you’ve narrowed down your choices by thickness, material, texture, stickiness, eco-friendliness, and price. While the style and design will not affect the functionality, it is important to choose a mat that is pleasant and appealing to your eyes. Note what colors, patterns, or prints you find exciting and delightful. Make sure the style you choose is something you love and will inspire your practice.