HOW TO BUY THE RIGHT YOGA MAT

HOW TO BUY THE RIGHT YOGA MAT

When I started practicing yoga over 8 years ago, I couldn’t wait to own my first yoga mat. I impulsively bought a pretty purple one, based on color alone. Not the best move, as it began disintegrating after a few weeks. What a waste of $45. Here are tips before you buy a first yoga mat.

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1. Materials
Yoga mats are manufactured from several different materials which might be suitable for individual users. Before buying, think about how the material might affect the mat’s functionality and how it fits into personal goals.

Material

Pros

Cons

PVC

Provides the most stick of all yoga mat materials which reduces the threat of slipping Not eco-friendly or absorbent

Rubber

Provides a lot of “give” when changing positions; provides a fair amount of stick Might cause allergic reaction for users sensitive to latex; not absorbent

Jute

Eco-friendly and absorbent Might create resistance when changing positions and have an uncomfortable texture

Cotton

Eco-friendly and absorbent Might make pivoting difficult because of resistance of cotton fibers

 

2. Thickness. The standard mat is 1/8 inches thick, offering support to the body, but still allowing the user to feel connected to the ground. Travel mats (a lighter weight option) are usually about 1/16 inch thick, making them a suitcase’s best friend. For those who want some extra cushion (whether sporting bad knees or always falling out of crow pose) a thicker mat — closer to 1/4 inch — may be the best bet.

3. Stickiness

The stickiness of a yoga mat is one of the defining factors that set it apart from basic exercise mats. When determining the amount of stick that a yoga mat should have, buyers should keep in mind that the stickiness needs to operate on both sides of the mat. The side of the mat that makes contact with the floor should provide a stationary anchor that locks the mat down so it doesn’t shift as a yoga practitioner changes poses; the upper side of the mat has to provide a skid-free surface that holds damp hands in place securely. When deciding which mat to buy, make sure to look at both sides of the mat to check for the amount of stick each side provides.

4. Texture

Yoga mats come in many textures that determine how much traction the mat will provide, which is great for standing poses, but it’s important to remember that texture could feel uncomfortable when performing sitting or lying poses. Jute mats have an organic, rough texture because of how they are woven, while PVC and rubber mats are fabricated to have varying degrees of roughness. If absolute smoothness is preferable, PVC mats manufactured with a smooth texture are the smartest buying choice.

5. Price

A no-frills, 1/8 inch thick PVC mat will often be cheapest option. The price tags increase when design, brand name, thickness, and eco-materials are part of the purchasing process.  Just remember not to fall for the cheap stuff. Investing in a reliable mat is important, but that savings account surely shouldn’t be sacrificed!

6.Try Before You Buy
It’s best to go on a recommendation from a friend or yoga teacher, and if they’re telling you what they love, it probably means they own it. “Borrow” the mat for a few minutes and try a few standing, balancing, seated, and inverted poses. You might find that the flower design you initially loved is really distracting, or that you’re too tall for a regular-sized mat. You’ll be happy you know this before dropping $70 or more.

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