Need helping picking the right yoga mat? A few simple tips will make wading through the sea of options a lot easier.
If you choose to practice on a yoga mat, you may be surprised to find that picking out the perfect mat can be difficult. The market is flooded with so many options when it comes to size, thickness, and materials. Not only that, but there are also a zillion brands in stores and online. Where to start? We’ve got a few steps that just might help.
Step 1: Size
Mats are often the same width but can vary by a few inches in length, a few millimeters in thickness, and a few pounds in weight. Having a mat that is too long is rarely an issue, but a mat that is too short can be annoying when your spread to your full length in savasana. Just as you’re settling down to relax, your feet or head rest on the cold floor. No thanks.
Be sure to get a mat that is at least as tall as you are. As for thickness and density, thick mats will provide the best cushioning for sensitive joints, pregnant women, and those who meditate for long durations of time. If none of those factors are a part of your practice, then a thinner mat may be a good option. Less cushioning creates a stronger connection between your body and the floor, helping you to feel grounded in balancing poses. If you walk, bike, or take public transit to class, you may find that mats in the 2 lb. and under range are the most portable. If you take a personal vehicle to class, then the weight of the mat may matter less.
Step 2: Composition
The composition of the mat may be important if you’re allergic to certain materials like dyes and latex. These details may not be available on the mat’s packaging, so check online for full descriptions.
If you are mindful of sustainability, consider the mat’s material sourcing, manufacturing process, and if it can be recycled. This info is often available online if it’s not on the packaging. During your research, you may notice terms like “open cell” and “closed cell.” Open cell, or porous mats, absorb sweat and minimize slippage. They need to be washed often. Closed-cell mats may look or feel less grippy, but they do not absorb odors or sweat so you can give the mat a quick wipe-down and only “wash” it every few weeks.
Step 3: Price
If money is a concern, please remember that you don’t need a mat to practice yoga! But if you choose to buy one, pick a mat within a price range that reflects how much you practice now. An inexpensive mat can last for several months, even years, if you’re only practicing on it once a week. Conversely, if you’re practicing daily and traveling with your mat, it may be worthwhile to invest in a more durable mat with a warranty. Remember: Buying an expensive mat probably won’t make you practice more. Buying an inexpensive mat won’t deter a dedicated student from practicing everyday.
Step 4: Aesthetics
It’s your practice. Use what suits you! Colors, patterns, quotations, whatever–don’t be concerned with what others in your class are buying. Get a mat that you will enjoy and want to practice on each day!