How to Choose a Yoga Mat
Yoga is the perfect way to unburden your mind and keep your body in excellent limber condition. A routine at a studio class or on your own can help you get energized in the morning or wind down for the evening, and one perk of yoga is that almost no gear is required to get started. However, having one or two pieces of quality yoga equipment makes it so much more enjoyable. The intermediate or experienced yogi may accumulate all sorts of yoga mats, bags, blocks, and blankets, but the only things you really need to get started are quality yoga clothes and a mat.
There are endless possibilities when it comes to choosing a yoga mat, so having an idea of your needs before you get started will help you make your decision. This guide will break down some of the variations in mat types so you can pick your ideal mat that will feel the best for your yoga style.
The first thing you’ll want to look at when choosing your mat is the material. You’ll be feeling the mat under your bare skin, feet, and hands, so selecting a comfortable material is a must. The material of your mat will be the most significant factor in how absorbent, sticky, springy, and grippy it will be. Yoga mats were once almost exclusively vinyl, but as yoga has grown in popularity, so have your options!
You can now choose more eco-friendly options like cotton, natural tree rubber, and bamboo. This is a good thing for anyone allergic to some materials (most commonly rubber and latex) as they can opt for hypoallergenic options. The material also plays an essential role in how long the mat will last. Chances are, the price of your mat will be telling about the quality and durability. Rubber and vinyl mats are options that can last for years of use.
Mat thickness is the next most noticeable feature after material and will have a lot to do with how well the mat feels under you. A 1.5mm yoga mat will be a very thin layer between you and the floor, creating the most grounding for balance but the least amount of padding. A thickly padded yoga mat will usually measure about 6mm and up. Thick mats can be useful for providing a cushion for getting into tricky positions and stands, as well as offering a springier base for comfort.
A standard mat is usually around 3.5mm and gives a medium cushion while providing adequate grounding and balance for advanced positions. This is usually the most popular option for both casual and expert yogis. Keep in mind that thickness will also significantly impact how heavy and bulky your mat is, making travel more difficult with thick mats.
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Making choices that help the environment and lessen our footprint as consumers is more important than ever. Thankfully, those who practice yoga tend to care about the Earth, and there are plenty of eco-friendly options for buying your next yoga mat. One option is purchasing a mat that is sourced from natural rubber. Tree-derived rubber has less impact on the environment when harvested and used to make yoga mats. It also makes for a perfect spongy and comfortable material for mats.
Cheaper vinyl mats are some of the worst mats for the environment as they don't degrade when thrown away and are a challenge to recycle. Choosing cork, bamboo, wool, and cotton-based mats is a more eco-friendly option as they tend to break down naturally and are more easily recycled. Mats that have a focus on sustainability are definitely in keeping with yoga's full body practice and mindfulness!
Looking for an eco-friendly, ever so comfy mat for your yoga sessions? Take a look at these winners from Yoga Society!
Show off your mat whether you are in a yoga studio or at the park! Having a great looking yoga mat can boost your mood before you even get to your practice spot. Mats come in an incredible array of colors, graphic prints, and texture styles. This is where your personal style will come into play, as you can make your choice based on what speaks to your personality. If you are a bright, sunny person, a burst of color on vibrant mats could be for you. Dark, moody options are also plentiful for those who prefer moonlit yoga sessions.
With such a vast selection today of patterns, it’s hard to miss when choosing your style. A mandala or traditional design can ground you and remind you why you practice, while a peaceful forest scene can give you a moment of calm as you unwind from your busy day. Whatever you pick, make sure it's something you’ll enjoy looking at for hours as you practice.
Your price range will be important to know ahead of time as you go through yoga mat options, as mats can range anywhere from $6 to over $200! Some of the price differences are based on more or less expensive materials -- cheaper vinyl mats or more expensive rubber blends. Big box stores often carry budget yoga mats for below $10 to around $30. A boutique yoga company can offer quality yoga mats for between $70 and $100.
Features such as eco-friendliness, patterns, graphic design, antimicrobial and microfiber materials, and other premium features will make for a pricier yoga mat. Do keep in mind that the price and durability of mats are usually connected, as cheaper mats tend to wear out faster. You may want to consider an option in the middle so you can save for other yoga equipment you may be wanting soon!
Ready to find stellar yoga mat options? Take a look at these yoga mats from Yoga Society.
While there may be more to choosing the right yoga mat than you initially thought, hopefully this guide has helped you weigh your options. If this is your first yoga mat, opt for a mat with medium thickness that is made from durable materials so it will last you years worth of sessions. While it’s tempting to buy a cheap mat, this can lead to some discomfort when starting out and will likely wear out quickly. Now it’s on you to get out there and make your choice. You got this!
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