So, you have taken up yoga; what an excellent choice! Not only does yoga help you burn calories and stay in shape, but it also allows you to destress and forget about your daily worries. However, to become an expert yogi, you need a trusty mat to perform all the sophisticated poses you have been dreaming of trying.
Since there are many yoga mats on the market, choosing the perfect one can prove to be a bit tricky, especially if you do not know what to look for. Yoga mats are categorized according to their texture, portability, thickness, and price. So, we will walk you through all the considerations you should keep in mind when shopping for a new mat. Keep on reading to learn more.
Fortunately, most yoga mats are affordable. However, you should not splurge on an expensive one just because it looks nice, especially when you are just a beginner. Based on what you are looking for, yoga mats can cost anywhere between $10 and $200!
Due to this huge price discrepancy, it is often recommended that you set a budget and go from there. Generally speaking, a good price for an entry-level mat should be around $30-70. It might be tempting to go for cheaper ones, but they are usually made from non-durable materials, making them more susceptible to wear and tear.
Your Skill Level
When you are starting out, your instructor may focus on gentler poses to ease you into yoga. Because there are many varieties of yoga, including challenging ones like Ashtanga and beginner-level styles like Hatha, you need to consider your skill level when buying a mat. For example, Ashtanga is all about pushing your body to the limit by making you go through poses quickly, so it makes sense to go for a non-slip mat that helps you maintain your balance. On the other hand, gentler styles are more focused on seated poses, which requires a mat with enough padding to allow you to stay comfortable during long sessions.
Mats come in a variety of materials, but PVC is the most common. That said, PVC is known for causing health issues, so you’d better stay away from yoga mats made out of this material. If you are into eco-friendly materials, you can go for cork mats since they are made from oak trees’ bark. They are also bacteria-resistant, making them an excellent option for individuals who are prone to infections.
You can also opt for rubber mats, considering that they are cheaper than cork mats and safer than PVC ones. If you practice hot yoga, you might want to go for a material that can absorb sweat. In this case, cotton and hemp mats are your best bet. While the fabric of the mat affects its texture, just keep in mind that a little bit of texture is actually good for preventing slip and fall accidents. However, if you do not like the texture of cork or cotton mats, you can go for the rubber variety instead. It all boils down to what you prefer and how you plan to use your mat.
Not all yoga mats have the same thickness. Yet, the average thickness you can go for as a beginner should be around 1/8 inches. If you practice Hatha or suffer from joint issues, you must opt for a thicker mat. In this case, a 1/4 inch one with lots of padding should do the trick. Just note that thick mats have less grip than thin ones, so you will not be able to use them when you start performing more complex poses. To keep it simple, you can get a padded mat for seated poses and another thin one for yoga varieties that involve lots of moving around.
If storage and portability are things you care about, then you should be extra careful when shopping for a new yoga mat. As a general rule of thumb, thick mats are harder to roll up and store in tiny places because they take up a lot of space. They are also not very portable, something that’s not a deal-breaker if you plan to practice yoga only at home. On the other hand, travel mats can be an amazing choice for those who are always on the move since they are lightweight and can be stored anywhere.
Choosing the right mat type for your yoga classes does not have to take hours. Once you identify your needs, you are free to pick from dozens of styles, including sticky, lightweight models and heavier, padded ones. No matter which one you end up going for, make sure to compare prices to find the best deal and don’t forget to check online stores as well since they usually offer great discounts.