How To Choose A Yoga Mat That Is Perfect For You
One of my favorite things about practicing yoga is that, unlike many activities, it doesn’t require a lot of equipment. You literally only need your body and your breath, but if I could recommend only one thing, I would recommend investing in a quality yoga mat.
When you practice your yoga mat is your universe. The moment I step onto my mat, the world disappears and all of my worries seem to disappear with it, except when I’m practicing on a yoga mat that ins’t right me. There is no way I am going to be able to focus while balancing on one leg when all I can think about is the mat slipping under my foot. With all the different yoga mats on the market today choosing a mat can be overwhelming. Here are some things to consider when selecting a yoga mat that's right for your practice.
The material of your mat will impact it's texture, stickiness, comfort, and durability. Most of the basic, entry-level mats are made out of PVC (polyvinyl chloride). These mats are popular because they are cheap (average $20) and are available at most stores. From my experience, they do have some good qualities (price, comfort), but they typically aren't durable and they are not eco-friendly which does weigh in on my decisions when purchasing goods.
Eco-friendly alternatives to PVC are foam, rubber, cork, cotton, and jute. From here its completely your preference. I personally prefer rubber mats; they offer durability and grip that suit my needs in both heated and unheated yoga classes, but depending on the brand can have a weird smell. Cotton and jute mats are a good alternative for people with latex allergies as latex is found in a lot of foam and rubber mats.
Stickiness and texture are like two peas in a mat pod and both depend heavily on the material. Both of these attributes will assist in your yoga practice, helping you to maintain balance and proper alignment while preventing you from slipping and sliding on your mat. The best non-slip mat materials are rubber, cork, cotton, and jute. Foam and PVC mats don’t offer much grip support, especially when wet.
Once you’ve narrowed down the material, next is mat thickness. There are benefits to both thick and thin mats. The most commonly used thickness is 1/8”, this thickness provides enough comfort to protect the knees and is still light enough to carry around with ease. If you need more cushion and support, a lot of companies offer thicker mats (typically up to 1/4”) but these mats can be cumbersome. Although thin yoga mats don’t offer much protection, they are ideal for yogi’s that like to travel. Travel mats are becoming more readily available in various materials and sizes to take your practice with you wherever you go.
There are countless other aspects to consider when choosing a yoga mat, but these two will get you the farthest when it comes to selecting a mat that is perfect for you. Plus when you start throwing in too many options, it can get overwhelming and then we are right back where we started. A lot of studios rent mats so you can try out a few different options before purchasing or ask some of your fellow yogis if you can try their mat.
I’ve tried a lot of different yoga mats before finally landing on my mat soulmate. I was afraid of spending the extra money to invest in a quality mat so I continued to buy slightly cheaper mats that were all great, but didn’t suit my practice needs and I wound up spending more money than if I had just bought the mat I wanted in the first place.
So here it is.. my tried and true best of the best.
SAMUDRA’S BEST OF THE BEST
When I met this yoga mat it was like a scene out of a movie - we ran to each other in slow motion on a beach and then road off into the sunset on white horses… OK so it didn’t quite go like that, but I LOVE this mat! For me its everything I need; it’s durable, has incredible grip, even when I’m sweating buckets, and it’s eco-friendly! This mat is slightly thicker than the average mat (3/16”), is 24” wide, and is available in 3 different lengths depending on your preference (68”- standard, 71”, and 74”). Jade yoga mats are made from sustainable, natural rubble right here in the US and BONUS- they plant a tree for every mat sold!
While the $75 price tag may seem steep, it’s comparable to other brands and you absolutely get more than you pay for with this mat!
Best Hot to Not Yoga Mat - Guru’s Roots Cork Yoga Mat
This yoga mat has been my go-to for a long time. The mat features a natural, waterproof, and antimicrobial cork top with a natural, sustainably harvested rubber bottom so its pretty much two mats in one! The no-slip cork surface actually improves as your mat becomes more wet so you don’t need to deal with towels scrunching and slipping on your mat during hot yoga. For unheated flows, I flip the mat and use the super-grip rubber side. The mat is slightly larger than normal measuring 25” wide and 72” long and offers slightly more cushion than the average mat. The only downside is that the mat is slightly heavier than most mats. Like Jade, Guru’s plants a tree for every mat purchased!
The mats sell for $95 but since you are basically getting 2 mats its worth it! This was the mat I used through all of my teacher trainings and this mat has stood up to 5+ hot yoga classes plus training a week. Its durable and built to last!
Best Travel Mat - Jade Yoga Voyager Yoga Mat
I love to travel, and I especially love to do yoga while I’m traveling. There is nothing like rolling out your mat on a secluded beach or balcony overlooking the jungle, or even in the hotel room after a long flight. I strive to travel light so when I found a mat that not only fits in my carry on, but doesn’t compromise on quality I was STOKED! Made from the same sustainable, natural rubber as the Jade Yoga Harmony, the Voyager weighs in at 1/16” thick and 1.5 lbs. This mat is made for portability and folds up to the size of a pair of jeans. While this mat is perfect for traveling, it is not ideal for daily use.
At $40 this mat doesn’t break the bank so you have some extra money to spend on your vaca!
Best Style - La Vie Boheme Yoga
Sifting through yoga mats based on material and mat thickness can be boring, its way more fun to pick out a mat because it has flowers or dream catchers on it. Well with La Vie Boheme Yoga mats you can do just that! Their pro yoga mats offer quality, comfort, support, and style! Made of recycled rubber they are lightweight and 100% recyclable so you can feel good about purchasing one of these beautiful mats! So now that you don’t have to worry about material, sustainability, or thickness, all you have to worry about is what amazing print you want on your mat!
With both style, quality, and sustainability the LVBY pro mats ring up at $100.
Best Mat That's Not a Mat - Gaiam No-slip Yoga Mat Towel
So you are already in love with your yoga mat, but you’ve started a hot yoga practice and you’re over using beach towels…. enter the Gaiam no-slip hot yoga towel. This 1.5mm, lightweight towel will be your new hot yoga best friend. The towel has quick absorbing microfiber on top to get you through your sweatiest class and rubber on the bottom to prevent the towel from slipping on your mat. And, if the thickness doesn’t bother you, this towel can double as a travel mat!
Not only is this the best no-slip hot yoga towel that I have tried yet, but with a price tag of only $30 its also the cheapest!
Happy yoga mat shopping! xo Samudra
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