Yoga is not an expensive hobby. In fact, in most cases, the only piece of equipment you will need to have a studio-quality yoga experience at home is a foam mat. A yoga mat keeps you comfortable and supports you while you are practicing yoga. A good yoga mat also provides enough grip to keep from slipping during your exercises. Unfortunately, not every inexpensive mat gets the job done. Keep reading to learn how to select a mat that is perfect for your needs.
Before You Buy a Yoga Mat
When you’re out to purchase your first yoga mat, you might be unsure of where to start. Prices vary, products vary, and it seems that the options are endless. But a few characteristics should make the decision easier. If you are still unsure of how to make an informed decision that will act as a catalyst for your yoga passion, here is what you should have in mind.
Nothing impacts a mat more than its materials. Even a beautiful design cannot matter more than the manufacturing materials. Luckily, the days of simple rubber mats are over. With various foam and natural rubber solutions, as well as some other innovative cork options, there are plenty of options to consider.
But materials can go beyond your own routine, pleasure, and comfort. They can be the signal the entire fitness industry needs when it comes to sustainability. It is why you can see more and more mats being made from recycled or sustainable materials. But this doesn’t have to mean that you need to sacrifice your own comfort. These materials are just as good as any other materials when it comes to proper support.
The thickness of the mat is one of the most important characteristics to look for. It can be an indication of the comfort level you can expect. It is why you have the ability to choose mats between 3 and 6mm in thickness. They provide different levels of comfort. The more advanced you are, the less you will need a thick mat. However, plenty of exceptions apply, especially if you have knee pain or discomfort.
Also, the actual length and width of the mat are important as well. It is why you have the ability to choose a solution that works well when it comes to your height. Most 68-inch mats are fine for yoga practitioners. However, 72” designs are a good solution as well. They can be at least as reliable when it comes to supporting complex movements, even if they might take more space in your travel or gym bag.
The size is also important if you are a fan of designs with various painting-inspired themes. It is where many manufacturers show their imagination. Some manufacturers even go as far as working with independent artists to create stand-out mats. If you want to match your environment or yoga clothing or if you want to stand out, large mats are the way to go.
Technologies aimed at odor management or those aimed at anti-bacterial action are hugely undervalued. Even after a few yoga sessions, you might actually experience different issues when it comes to proper health and comfort. It is time you think about investing in a mat that keeps you protected even when you sweat.
Odors can be a problem in the long-term. Apart from the coating and from the used materials, the mat also needs to be cleaned regularly. Some mats can be washed in the washing machine. Others can only be washed by hand. This information is available in the product description, and you should always take the time to inform yourself of the recommended best-practices if you want to use your mat for a long period of time.
Anti-bacterial action can be seen especially on the top of a mat. It is where the manufacturer can apply the coating and moisture-repellent technologies. Since bacteria thrive in humid environments, this becomes crucial. It is also why a growing number of manufacturers are actually recommending to dry your mat outside.
The grip of the mat is influenced by its design and by its materials. The thread of the bottom layer is often important. However, the mats which are made to be used on both sides use a different approach. With a sticky design, they prevent slippage both with and on the mat. It is why you should seriously consider the ability of the mat to keep you in place, as the last thing you want is to actually get injured during yoga.
Since there are many designs in this space, manufacturers have employed technologies that are now necessarily reliant on the rubber for good grip. Since the rubber can be quite heavy and since it is still used today, the actual weight of the mat can suffer. It is why you can find mats between 3 and 6lbs that feel very different and which are not actually made for the ultimate portability.
It is why you have to ask yourself where the location of your practice will be. If you are doing yoga away from home, it makes sense to use a lightweight mat. If you train at home, this issue is considerably reduced.
The comfort of the mat is characterized by its spring back and its materials. It is what makes or breaks a mat in the eyes of a yoga fan. If it is not comfortable, it is highly likely for the mat to be replaced. It is why there is a new category of mats that are made of microfiber. One of its advantages is the comfort. Another advantage comes with moisture-wicking abilities. Whichever materials are used, you should always ensure that they are the best solutions to keep you dry. With so many materials, it is also a space for innovation and also the reason why you might even consider multiple mats for a different experience during your yoga sessions.
Yoga mats are not necessarily expensive. They come at all prices, and they represent a solution that is easy to work with, especially after a few sessions. But even in these conditions, they are vastly different due to the employed materials, sizes, and thickness variations. Finally, they can even be different in the way they make you feel since it has been proven certain colors influence the way we feel and our general mood. It is why you want to invest in supportive and durable mats but in solutions that also aid when it comes to added relaxation. In most cases, you also have the ability to match your choice to the environment in your own home, which should also act as extra yoga motivation.