Even though yoga doesn’t look as heavy as lifting weights and working out in the gym, some yoga asanas or poses can make your sweat run; that is why you also need a yoga mat that can support the body while moving.
Imagine if you were doing difficult poses on a slippery yoga mat that didn’t absorb sweat well, you would slip more easily, and your yoga practice would be less than optimal.
Buying a Yoga Mat
What to look for when buying a yoga mat?
For those of you who are beginners, choosing the right quality yoga mat can help you practice safely and more effectively. So here are the ten things that you should look for in yoga mats that expert yogis recommend:
1. The Right Yoga Mat Material
There are many yoga mat materials available today in the market. Popular yoga mat materials are Thermoplastic elastomers (TPE), rubber, Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), Cork, Hemp, Jute, etc. TPE is not recommended for long-term use because yoga mats made of TPE tend to be very soft and easy to peel off. Meanwhile, rubber or any other material is the right choice if you have allergies.
PVC is the best material with a light but excellent density, anti-slip, and easy to clean. However, PVC is highly toxic and not good for the environment. Different toxic substances are formed during the PVC manufacturing process. These by-products resulting from manufacture are harmful to health, in addition to having a non-negligible environmental impact.
Nowadays, it is possible to find eco-friendly yoga mats in different recycled or natural materials like Hemp, Jute, Cork, Rubber, etc., free of polluting products and which perfectly fulfill their function.
2. The thickness of the Yoga Mat
If the mat is too thin, it will make the exercise uncomfortable or even painful when doing the pedestal. However, the too-thick yoga mat with extra cushioning will also make it difficult to balance. Ideally, a yoga or exercise mat should be between 4 and 6 millimeters thick.
3. The texture of the yoga mat material
The texture of the mat material is important because it creates traction and a force of gravity on several movements, thereby eliminating the possibility of slipping. The smoother the textured surface, like a sleeping mattress, the softer and more comfortable the mattress feels when used. Your favorite yoga mat should have a superior grip for every style of yoga and a non-slip surface.
4. Good Bearing
A good yoga mat should provide enough cushion to support the body, not to feel the floor’s hardness. This means that the yoga mat size must match your posture and be the right thickness for the type of floor you normally use (ceramic or wooden).
For example, a thick yoga mat works better on a hard surface, such as a tile floor. Choose a yoga mat that suits your needs. But for beginners, you should choose one that has good enough durability to use for practicing.
The other qualities people do not care about are an all-purpose yoga mat without latex allergies and joint protection features. The yoga studio floor poses variable, uneven surfaces and concretes, which might hamper the tender knees of dedicated yogis.
Marking helps beginners and practicing yogis. There are lines on the mat that will help track progress and correctly perform asanas without falling in different directions, serving as a guide for a more correct and even position.
The exercise yoga mats with thoughtful design and light color are an excellent choice for distinguishing marks for beginners.
If you are the type of person who likes to carry yoga mats around, you need a lightweight yoga mat. Although a denser yoga mat is more durable and longer-lasting, it will be heavier to carry. If you practice yoga at home, then this is not a problem. However, if you frequently attend yoga classes, consider a yoga mat that is lighter, more portable, and easy to carry.
As you can imagine, there are mats of different prices, from the cheapest to the most expensive. We know that when it comes to the quality of a product, the price can influence our final decision. You will find super expensive carpets, as they are from well-known brands with no differential that justifies such a price. On the other hand, it is possible to find a good yoga mat at a fair price.
It may be better to invest a little less for those just starting out and unsure if it will continue. As we have already said, very cheap rugs may not be very durable due to the low quality of the material. However, they can be very useful for those who are still a beginner or only practice once a week.
8. Length and width of the yoga mat
The yoga mat should be long enough to cover your head and feet when lying down, so consider it taller than you. The standard length is around 180 cm, but more and more companies offer an XL size that reaches 200 cm. On the other hand, the standard width is about 60 cm, but even in this case, wider ones can be found on the market.
By choosing a wide mat, you will have the advantage of a greater support surface, while the disadvantage is that it may be too bulky for transport or not fit in the standard mat bags. Always check the length of your mat so as not to find yourself with strange surprises. Keep in mind that very cheap ones tend to be shorter than the standard size.
9. Cleaning the yoga mat
There is no point in buying a good yoga mat if you leave the accessory dirty and loose. Maintaining the hygiene of the mat is essential to avoid allergies or other problems with fungi and bacteria. Accumulation of dirt can compromise health. Every time you finish a yoga class, take a few minutes to clean the mat, especially shared ones.
If you’re in a studio, ask someone for a mat cleaner, chances are they have it there. If you are at home, you can use mild detergent or soap, vinegar, or water for cleaning. It all depends on the material of your accessory, whether to use cold water or warm water for cleaning.
Once you have narrowed down your choices in terms of thickness and size, material, texture, environment, and price, there is only one thing to consider: the look. There are quality mats with alignment guidelines that help many beginners and even more experienced practitioners in the correct positioning of the asanas. In addition to this more functional look, rugs with designs and styles that can match your taste.
So now you understand what things you should pay attention to when choosing your first yoga mat. A good yoga mat will provide comfort, balance, and stability to enhance your yoga practice. Before choosing your first yoga mat, consider some of the qualities above! And it will be ideal to consult with a yoga instructor or yoga teacher before beginning your daily practice.