yoga mats

5 Things to consider when buying a yoga mat

Choosing the right yoga mat can be a bit of a challenging situation, specially if you are new to yoga.  There are several aspects that you need to be aware when looking for the perfect fit for a yoga mat, such as thickness, weight, size, texture, material, durability, and the style of yoga you practice, will be crucial when buying your yoga mat.

1. Thickness and Weight

Yoga mats can come in a range of thicknessess.  They can also be categorised as heavy with 1/4" thickness (or 6mm), standard (or medium) with 1/8" thickness (or 4mm-5mm), light or ultra light (or travel) with 1/16" thickness (or 1-3mm).  A thin yoga mat is ideal for practicing balance postures, giving you a strong connection to the floor, the downside of a thin mat is that certain poses may be hard on your knees and joints. A thick mat may be more ideal for back support during core work, inversions, and other postures that cause your bones to dig into the ground, the downside of a thick mat is that it may be difficult to maintain your balance and hold a pose, and it will be a heavyweight when you have to walk long distances.

Yoga mats range from super thin and compact travel styles that weigh a mere 2 lbs. to cushy quarter-inch beasts that weigh up to 7 lbs. If you’re not sure where to start, choose a mat that’s about 1/8-in. thick (or 3.175 mm), a pretty standard thickness.

2.  Size

A standard yoga mat is 24" x 68", but the length can sometimes vary (the width will almost always remain 24"). 72" and 74" are typical alternative lengths, but some yoga mats are as long as 84". While most yogis will fit on a standard-sized mat, taller yogis will need to experiment a little. Start off by trying to do a downward-facing dog pose on a standard yoga mat. As long as your hands and feet are securely on the mat, then the length is sufficient.

3.  Texture

The mat’s texture will control the amount of traction it has. If you sweat a lot in yoga class, a grippy mat will keep you from slipping around. If the bumpy texture bothers you, make sure the smooth mat has a moisture control mechanism.

To prevent slipping, avoid PVC mats, and look for rubber, cotton, or jute yoga mats. The added grip from the raised textures of these types of mats will help keep your poses secure no matter how sweaty you get. For smoothness and additional comfort, PVC and foam mats are your best bets. Just be aware that these mats may not offer adequate grip when wet.

4. Material and durability

The material of a mat will determine the texture, stickiness, sponginess, and eco-friendliness. Most yoga mats are made of either vinyl or rubber. Vinyl mats last a long time and can endure many yoga classes. Rubber mats typically have jute and cotton in them making them more eco-friendly but less spongy.

  • PVC: Most entry-level yoga mats are made of polyvinyl chloride, aka PVC. This material offers good durability, stickiness, and comfort. Despite its proven performance as a yoga mat material, PVC has received criticism for not being environmentally friendly.
  • Foam: Essentially the eco-friendly version of PVC mats, foam yoga mats offer the same performance characteristics, but without the harmful environmental side effects. The only caveat is that mats made of foam contain latex which can be problematic for some yogis with allergies.
  • Rubber: Another popular choice among eco-friendly yoga mats, a rubber yoga mat is a solid alternative to a PVC mat. Like foam yoga mats, rubber mats contains latex. Those with allergies consider the other options.
  • Cotton: Sometimes called "traditional yoga mats," cotton yoga mats are thin and eco-friendly. They're also commonly used on top of other yoga mats to provide the support cotton alone doesn't offer. Cotton absorbs sweat well and actually increases grip when wet.
  • Jute: Similar to cotton yoga mats, jute offers the same sustainability and resiliency as cotton yoga mats. Like cotton mats, jute yoga mats are normally used over another yoga mat to get excellent traction and superior support. However, jute is a more fibrous material which is a bit rougher than cotton and absorbs less moisture.

5. Style of Yoga

The style of yoga you practice will have an impact on the mat you choose.  Textured mats are ideal for more active types of yoga — like ashtanga yoga — because of all the bending, sliding, stretching and sweating. All your perspiration would make it difficult for PVC and foam mats to stay sticky. For lower-intensity yoga — such as restorative yoga — comfort may be a higher priority since you'll be lying down for long periods of time. In this case, PVC or foam yoga mats would work well to provide adequate comfort and support.

Happy shopping! 

 

 

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