There are a bewildering array of yoga mats on the market. How to find the best yoga mat for you? Read on…
When thinking about buying a yoga mat the main things to consider are material, thickness, and stickiness.
PVC yoga mats range from cheap yoga mats found in your local supermarket or general sports stores to high quality ones with some of the nastier toxins removed. It’s best to treat yourself and spend a little extra money on something you can be proud of, so ask a few questions and see what the seller is describing before you buy. You can still find cheap yoga mats without compromising on quality.
Rubber yoga mats have the benefit of being made from natural materials, but make sure it is sourced from sustainable rubber. These mats normally have some kind of fabric woven into them and rubber has excellent cushioning properties so should ensure comfort. Rubber is also very durable so should stand up to the fiercest of yoga practices. Good also for general use.
Cotton yoga mats are often designed for slower, gentler styles of yoga as they can sometimes be quite thick. I remember on one of my first yoga trips to India practicing on these and it felt a bit weird. I had been used to a thin, sticky mat and now I was practicing on what felt like a duvet. But I did get used to it and it certainly helped me stay very aware of my weight distribution, balance and pace. Cotton feels great too and is the best yoga mat at providing good insulation from a cold surface.
Bamboo yoga mats are again a good natural choice, although make sure that the bamboo is from a sustainable source. Good for general use.
Towelled yoga mats are generally used for the various sytles of hot yoga. They usually have a non-stick base and have a thin layer of towelling on the surface to absorb the sweat pouring off you. It’s worth investing in one of these is this is your preferred style of yoga as you don’t want to be slipping on a wet mat and giving yourself an injury.
Yoga Mat Thickness
Yoga mats typically range from 3 – 5mm in thickness (although travel yoga mats can be 1mm thick). Generally the thinner the mat the more stable you will be in balancing poses (although 2mm does not make that much of a difference). If you do go for a thinner mat, though, you will sacrifice some cushioning, so it’s an individual preference.
Yoga Mat Stickiness
Stickiness is about how much grip you have at the points of contact on your yoga mat, especially when resisting against your body weight. If you are doing a slow style of yoga then it’s not too important, but the faster your yoga is, like astanga or power yoga then the best yoga mat will have sufficent grip to help you get the most out of the postures and avoid injury.