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HOW TO CHOOSE A YOGA MAT

 

THICKNESS

Generally the thicker the mat the more comfortable it is, especially while doing poses with knees on the ground.  The tradeoff however, is that thicker mats can make it harder to feel a strong connection to the floor so you may be less stable in tree pose for example.  Also thicker mats are going to be bulkier to transport.  So consider how much room you have to store it, how important portability is, and where your sweet spot is on comfort vs. connection to the floor.  Options –Mats range from  1/16 inch thick (foldable travel mats) to 1/4 inch thick.  Most standard mats are right in the middle at about an 1/8 inch thick.


MATERIAL

What your mat is made of determines texture, stickiness, sponginess, how eco friendly the mat is and how well it will hold up over time.  Most yoga mats are made of PVC (because it is the stickiest, spongiest, and most durable) but there are also more earth friendly options including natural rubber, recycled rubber, jute, organic cotton, and PVC free synthetics.

  • Texture – varies based on materials, jute and rubber mats have a natural roughness, PVC is generally smoother.  If you have sensitive feet avoid the rougher materials.
  • Stickiness – keeps you from sliding around and helps you maintain alignment.  PVC is the stickiest initially but only when it is clean! So if you start sliding around also wash your mat.  Rubber, jute, and cotton are less sticky but the texture mentioned above helps keep you from sliding too much.
  • Sponginess – Varies greatly based on blends of materials but generally PVC has the most give, cotton and jute the least.
  • Eco-friendliness - Avoid yoga mats made of PVC, which does not break down in landfills. Go with natural or recycled rubber, jute, cotton, or newer recycled synthetic materials such as TPE (check out Prana’s E.C.O. Sticky mat.)

PRICE RANGE

A basic 1/8 inch thick, plain colored,  PVC mat will be on the low end of the price range ($25-30.)  From there you pay more for patterns, extra thickness, antimicrobial treatments, and eco-friendly materials.

 

OTHER NOTES

If you are allergic to latex do not buy a natural rubber mat.

Most yoga mats are about 26”x68”.  If you are an exceptionally tall person you may want to look for a larger mat.  Both Prana and Hugger Mugger make versions that are 30”x78”