- 1 Do I need a mat to do yoga? Can you do yoga without a mat?
- 2 What type of yoga mat is best for beginners? How to buy an entry-level yoga mat.
- 3 The features of a good Yoga mat
- 4 Which is the right side of a Yoga mat?
- 5 Share this:
- 6 Related
After a long time looking for a “soul mat” I can say I have a lot of information to share about yoga mats. If you have just started your Yoga mat journey and you are unsure about where to start, there are many qualities to consider: Comfort, Thickness, Weight, Size, Durability, Stickiness, Eco-Friendliness, Material, Price Range and Style.
I hope this guide will help you choose the yoga mat that suits YOU and the type of yoga you practice, as well as your lifestyle, your priorities and, of course, your budget. Choosing the right yoga mat is crucial, as it will make your practice much more comfortable and happier.
Do I need a mat to do yoga? Can you do yoga without a mat?
The answer is yes. You can practice Yoga on a hardwood floor, a carpet, or on the beach. Nevertheless, the level of expertise needed to practice yoga without the cushioning protection of a mat is higher than most of us have. The use of a mat will help you keep balance and will protect both your hand and feet from hurting yourself or slipping.
What type of yoga mat is best for beginners? How to buy an entry-level yoga mat.
For starter yogis, there are many options out there. Thicker ones are better for aching joints but compromise your balance. If you don’t want to spend much on your first yoga mat there are also many affordable options, but they are typically made out of cheap materials, break easily and they lack many of the most valuable qualities of the more expensive ones, like stickiness and durability.
The features of a good Yoga mat
What are the qualities I should look for when in search of a new yoga mat? These are the features that I took into account when looking for a new yoga mat. Deciding how to pick a yoga mat has been a research task full of surprises.
A COMFORTABLE YOGA MAT
Close your eyes for a moment, and imagine yourself lying on your yoga mat, in Savasana. Imagine your slow breathing, feeling the air as it rubs against your skin, and feeling your body so relaxed than you forget about your mat. That’s the kind of comfort we are looking for.
THICKNESS How thick of a yoga mat should I get?
The thickness of the mat will affect this feeling. A thicker yoga mat will protect you from hurting yourself but also can make harder for you to connect with the ground, making you lose some balance in certain poses like the tree.
A thick yoga mat will also protect you from a cold floor. If you are sensitive to cold you might consider a thicker yoga mat for this purpose.
The standard thickness of a yoga mat is about ⅛ inch thick. You can find thicker mats than this that are ¼ inch. The thinnest yoga mats are around 1/16 inch and are typically so thin that they are foldable. They are also known as “travel yoga mats”.
The thickness of the yoga mat will affect its weight too. Your lifestyle is going to be a huge influence in this case: If you drive to your yoga studio or practice at home the weight factor won’t be so important. If you ride your bike or take the bus, then a lighter mat is probably going to work better for you.
This is a really important feature to take into account, especially if you are taller than the average. Yoga mats exists in different sizes and they vary from brand to brand, but a somehow standardized yoga mat size is 24 inches wide and 68 inches long.
This point is very very important. When you are going to invest money in a yoga mat, one of the things you think about is how long will it last? I would not spend $100 on a mat that I have to replace every year, but a good quality one will last way more than that.
Have you seen someone slip and fall during a yoga class? Surely yes! Many times the cause is that we are performing a balancing pose that is difficult to maintain. But for both to improve the balance and to focus on your breathing, as to avoid slipping on the mat, with sweat or just rubbing, it is best to keep this point in mind when buying one.
If you have chosen to help the world to be a better place, then you will surely want to buy an eco-friendly mat or one that respects the environment. Some materials used for yoga mats as non-eco friendly PVC are not recyclable or compostable, and they are highly toxic. In this sense, Manduka is my favorite brand. Their mats are manufactured through an eco-friendly process and they are PVC free. In addition, they use, whenever possible, natural, recyclable, sustainable and/or biodegradable materials and are constantly searching for new “green” technologies.
Most eco-friendly options include natural and recycled rubber, jute, and organic cotton or natural cotton (which means the fabric is not treated with synthetic finishes during manufacturing).
If you’re allergic to latex, avoid yoga mats made of natural rubber. If you want to stick to your mat and see it lasting for years, choose a yoga mat made out of PVC. Cushiness can vary widely with different blends of materials, but in general, PVC has the most “give” of any yoga mat material; jute and cotton have the least.
I know, I know, Manduka mats are amazing but also a bit pricey for the average budget. Normally the standard size/solid color option will be the cheapest one. If you get it from a good brand you will very likely get a good quality one. If you can afford going beyond the basics you will find a world of textures, prints and sizes to fit your needs.
Once we’ve gone over the technical features it’s time to think about the style. Yoga mats are available in many colors, patterns, and prints.
Which is the right side of a Yoga mat?
If your mat has a textured sticky side, that’s the one that goes up. The stickiness will keep your hands and feet in place. But some mats are reversible and they have the same texture and stickiness on both sides. That means that both sides can be face up.
Examine your mat carefully to determine which side goes up. Some mats are reversible and will have the same texture and stickiness on both sides. In this case, either side can face down. If your mat has a raised or textured sticky side, that side goes up to keep your hands and feet from slipping.