You have researched about the best yoga studio in your area. Chosen the type of yoga that better adapts to your style, found the ideal teacher and the class that fits into your busy schedule. Now, you just have to buy a ‘simple’ yoga mat. But when you head to the sports shop, you find hundreds of options that you didn´t expect! Materials, colours, thicknesses, prices. You never thought that it would be so difficult to choose one!
Having the right mat for your yoga practice is like buying a dress: you need to feel that is the right for you, it fits, it´s comfortable and matches you. It´s going to be your yoga mat-mate for a long time and your self private personal space in crowded classes, so choosing the right one is the best investment you can do for your Yoga adventures.
Here you have 8 recommendations on how to choose your ideal yoga mat:
Importance: the material will have impact on things as the: stickiness, cleanliness of the mat, durability, sponginess, hygiene and sustainability.
Main options are: PVC (polyvinyl chloride) , rubber (recyclable), foam, cotton (natural plan material) , jute (natural plant material)
Importance: it will affect how hard the poses are on your knees and joints, and well as how easy it will be to hold your pose specially in balance asanas
The thickness will also impact the weight of the mat and the space that it will occupy in your house, car, or wherever is the spot where you will keep it.
- 4 mm: standard
- 6 mm: thick
- 1-2 mm: light
Importance: a higher stickiness will help you to hold your yoga pose and keep a proper alignment.
Even the stickiest mats will become slippery if they are not clean, so remember to keep you mat safe. Cotton and Jute are the lowest in terms of stickiness, being foam and pvc the highest.
Importance: the texture of a mat will define how much slipping and sliding you’ll be able to do. It also gives you different levels of comfort and skin sensations on specific poses, such as savasana .
While the stickiness helps you to stick on a pose via suction, the texture does that via an irregular surface on the mat, which prevents your body parts from slipping. Jute, cotton or rubber are the best, while PVC has flat texture.
This is a very personal choice, and we all have different budgets allocated for our activities. But remember that the mat is the place where you are going to stand for HOURS during your Yoga classes. Your closest companion. Your face to face best friend. If there is an area where you don´t want to go for cheap options, it is the mat. Choose what is going to make your practice healthier, more comfortable and safer.
6. Colours and design
Your yoga mat is going to accompany you during many months , and it’s also a reflection of your Yoga personality. What you see on the surface of your mat, can be used as inspiration as well as to anchor your practice. Once you see your mat opened, you immediately get the feeling of what´s next – your yoga moves.
Whether there is a plain design or a pattern, think how you want to feel during your yoga asana. A mat is like a second face of yourself, where you will be seeing yourself in the mirror, so chose something that is going to make you feel as you exactly the way want to feel after your class.
PVC is extremely durable, spongy and easy to clean, but not the best in terms of being environment-friendly. But they have evolved in the last years, and some companies are making eco-friendly PVC that don´t contain the harsh chemicals.
Rubber mats are a great way to combine the best characteristics in terms of durability, stickiness and texture.
If sustainability is the most important thing for you, regardless other characteristics, then go for a cotton or jute mat.
Conscious choices will make your whole yoga experience more complete and satisfactory!
8. Extra tip: listen to the mat
How do you choose your friends? What food do you buy at the supermarket? Which are the clothes you would end up selecting in a store? It is that last ‘aha!’ moment, the one that will count more. So listen to your intuition, look at the mat, and if you are smiling, you´ve already met THE ONE!