How to Choose the Best Yoga Mat
Over the years I’ve been through many yoga mats; from the cheap chemical made mats that last a week at best, to now yoga mats with a lifetime guarantee. As my practice has adapted and evolved over time so has my preference for what I look for in a mat.
Which is the best mat for you?
The world of yoga apparel can seem daunting – especially when it comes to each company promising that they will sell you the best yoga mat. But what should you consider when looking for one to suit you?
The thickness of a mat is an important factor to think about when buying a mat. Maybe you need a thicker mat for better cushioning on your hands, knees, feet, etc. Or, you may be a practitioner that prefers to be in close contact with the ground so a thinner mat may be best. Every brand will specify the thickness of their mats in the specifications of the product, usually in millimetres. Consider what thickness your current mat is or the one that you use regularly in a yoga class and how did it feel?
Weight and Size
If you are after a portable mat to carry around with you either from class to class or on your travels then buying a lighter weight mat would be a good idea. Some mats on the market have superb grip but they weigh a ton so would that work for you in a practical sense?
Thinking about the size also matters as you may need a wider or longer mat. I personally have a longer mat as my practice contains jump backs and jump throughs. With standard size mats, I end up frequently practising on the floor or having to rearrange myself so I stay on the mat. We are all different shapes and sizes, meaning we all need a mat suited to our own beautiful shape, whether that is in terms of length or width.
Materials and sustainability
The materials used to create a mat are highly important. Years ago most mats would be made from chemical-laden materials full of non-eco PVC, hazards dyes and plastic coatings. Nowadays, these cheaply manufactured mats can be easily avoided by purchasing an eco-friendly one, that is better for the environment and for our health.
Natural tree rubber, jute, eco-certified PVC, cork and other non-toxic recycled materials are all popular options. Some mats are biodegradable but its worth noting that these eco-style mats are not always as long-lasting. Some of these mats break down easily and therefore need replacing often which can end up becoming costly.
As with the abundance of different yoga mats you can buy there is also a huge range when it comes to the cost. The very cheap mats tend to fall apart quickly with regular use and to be full of nasty chemicals. The more you pay for a mat opens up a variety of other options when it comes to different patterns, colours, and more importantly, higher quality. But not every yoga mat needs to cost you an arm and a leg to be a great mat for daily use, as a student or as a teacher.
What style of yoga do you practice?
Another factor that could make or break your next mat purchase is considering if your chosen mat is suitable for the style of yoga that you practice. For those that enjoy hot yoga or have a sweat-inducing practice, would need to look for a mat that is sturdy and less likely to build up a puddle of perspiration on its surface. For someone that practices Yin or Restorative Yoga, a mat that is thicker would most likely be more suitable. After looking at the different options when it comes to yoga mats also think about your style of practice, the frequency that you’ll use your mat, and your personal preference. If it’s a pretty mat that makes you smile when you roll it out a few times a week then there’s nothing wrong with that! But would it last if you end up using it for an hour and a half daily? Spend time looking at reviews, asking fellow practitioners for their recommendations and considering a few options wouldn’t be a would be a great start before purchasing a mat.
Please feel free to let me know what matters to you when buying a mat or your yoga mat recommendations.
I’ve also written a post on yoga mat reviews about the different mats that I’ve used over the years. For my top picks and reviews, click here.