YOGA MATS- HOW DO YOU CHOOSE?

By | 4 March 2010

A short article highlighting the three most important things to think about when buying a yoga mat.

Ow! …… you’re supposed to be serene but, your ankles are digging into the floor, your knees are killing you and your yoga mat stinks. Why did you bother!

But, don’t give up on the asanas yet, just buy yourself a decent yoga mat.

Most of us start off with a cheap, thin, sticky yoga mat from the local sports store. But there’s such a huge range of yoga mats available online – how do you choose?

Here are the most important points –

Safety
Don’t slip up. Make sure your new yoga mat is safe. Decent grip is essential in a yoga mat. Yoga sticky mats grip the floor and provide good grip for your hands and feet but, sweat can be a problem. If you perform the more active or hot styles of yoga you should consider more absorbent yoga mats or yoga towels (these are a thin fabric covering designed to provide extra grip on top of other yoga mats).

General sports workout mats don’t work for yoga. I’ve tried them, don’t waste your money. They tend to be too hard, too soft or too slippery.

There are serious health concerns over the potentially harmful and environmentally damaging chemicals used in some yoga mats. PVC is used in the production of most yoga mats. The manufacturing process is environmentally damaging and the yoga mats themselves can give off toxic chemicals over time (including phthalates). Many of the eco-friendly yoga mats use latex and rubber instead. These are natural products but some people have allergies. New materials are used in some of the premium yoga mats which solve both these problems. Make sure you do your homework.

There is some debate over viral, bacterial or fungal infection from dirty yoga mats and it is possible to buy antimicrobial (Microban) yoga mats.

Comfort
Yoga mats provide a cushion between the hard floor and your body. The thicker the mat you buy for yoga, the more comfortable it will be. Cheap, sticky yoga mats are thin at usually 1/8th of an inch, and your knees and ankles can push through to the floor (ouch). Premium yoga mats are usually 1/4 inch thick and much more comfortable but, if your yoga mat is too soft you lose your balance. Look for a combination of comfort and firmness.

Style
Style is much more than just a choice of plain or patterned. You can go organic, eco friendly, ethnic, natural, bio degradable or high tech, budget or premium, American, European, Japanese, Mexican or even authentic Indian. Patterns and colours are virtually unlimited and you can even have your yoga mat custom designed and printed. Alignment yoga mats are printed with lines to help your posture.

Don’t be limited by size. Yoga mats are usually 2’ by 6’ but you can buy longer yoga mats (good for taller people) and wider yoga mats. Then you have a choice of materials; sticky, eco sticky, cotton, wool, jute, rubber, or even lavender filled fleece and faux leather!

Search the internet, choose what suits you best and make your yoga practice even more of a pleasure.

Oh, and don’t forget the yoga mat bag …………..!

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