Mat Yoga – The Way of Finding a Perfect Yoga Mat

Times are changing and Yoga is become very popular in the west. People are becoming more health-conscious, trying to save themselves from misery by engaging in various “green” and “organic” trends and activities. While most of these trends are a passing fad (supplements, pills, powders, juices, etc.) Yoga is a proven science, thousands years old, with an established lineage of experienced schools and teachers. Many people are taking up yoga because it is safe, effective and does not require any significant effort, unlike pilates or more intensive programs. Yoga works on the body as much as it does on the mind, and its subtle effects are felt immediately.

Before actively engaging in the practice of Yoga, consider investing into a good mat – Yoga’s only required accessory that could make a significant difference in your progress. A good mat will provide with additional support, stability and comfort and make practice very enjoyable. On the contrary, a less than adequate mat could turn your class into a nightmare. Read on to find out how to find that perfect mat – Yoga practitioner’s best friend.

The following factors will play the most important roles in determining your needs:

Your skill level Beginners are advised against investing into own yoga mats. Many people quit after only a few classes and throw their mats away eventually. A good mat could easily cost up to a $100 but will biodegrade rapidly because of its natural materials, a cheaper PVC mat will take many years to decompose. Think about how many people give up yoga and throw their mats away every year. That’s not good mat yoga.

If you are just getting started, use a mat provided by your studio – they are clean, decent and thick enough for everyone. Once you practice for a while and begin to feel the effects, it may be time to consider purchasing your own mat.

Your budget Mat prices range from $10 to $100 depending on quality of the material. All-natural rubber mats are usually more expensive, but offer superior durability, cushioning, and comfort. Cheaper, PVC and PER (less harmful to the environment than PVC) mats for yoga sometimes feature similar characteristics but cost a lot less. Generally, the more advanced and dedicated you are, the more you should spend on your mat, as the investment will pay off in the future. The price-quality relationship with yoga mats is almost direct.

Once you are confident in determining your skill level and your budget, it is time to pick your mat – Yoga will never be the same (just kidding).

Consider the following features of a good mat Yoga, and pick one that fits you best:

Material Best mats are made of natural, biodegradable rubber (latex) or advanced polymers that are also earth friendly. I suggest natural rubber, if you don’t mind its smell, if you do – consider jute, earth-friendly polymers, or a mix of both. PVC mats are usually the cheapest, but they do offer pretty good stability, grip and cu (more on these later). If you are buying a PVC mat, it shouldn’t cost you more than $20, unless if you are paying extra for the appearance.

Size Mats range in length (60-75″) and width (20-24″), and bigger mats are usually more comfortable. Keep in mind that larger mats are heavier and bulkier, and much more difficult to carry to class. Mat yoga is about balance, so the best idea is to have one large mat for home practice, one light and thin mat (or a towel) for travel, and one regular mat (and bag) for carrying to class.

Thickness Beginner students usually prepare thicker mats (around ¼”). Practicing on a thicker mat is easier at first, but once you get more advanced, too much depth may become a distraction. Thickness is more of a personal preference that a requirement. Most generic PVC studio mats are between 1/8″ and ¼”.

Stickiness 99% of yoga mats fail to grip when excessively wet. Keep this in mind, and don’t complain when you start to slip and slide during your Hot yoga practice, get a special yoga towel and cover your mat with it. Premium mats handle wetness better, but they are not perfect. Test your mat’s grip when dry. Ideally, a good mat should not be excessively sticky, as this will not help during position changes. Natural materials, like rubber and jute tend to have superior grip, though cheaper PVC mats may work just as well.

Yoga – What Should I Look For in a Yoga Mat?

At my first yoga practice, I borrowed a mat that my studio had on hand. I quickly realized I needed a mat of my own. The borrowed mat was too thin, not long enough for my height, and covered in somebody else’s sweat! Being a total novice, I headed to the local discount store and bought the first mat that caught my eye. Having, at the time, more money than common sense, I ended up buying several more mats in the search for the one that was really right for me. From experience, I know that when you look for the perfect yoga mat, you should consider 5 factors: size/shape, thickness and weight, composition, aesthetics, and price. If you take the time to carefully think through these factors, you will be happier with your choice, enjoy your yoga practices more, and maybe even save money.

Size/shape: As your instructor will probably tell you, your mat is your universe. Too small, you may be uncomfortable; too big, you may crowd other students. “Standard” yoga mats are rectangular in shape, approximately 24″ by 68″. For people of average weight and height, this size and shape will likely serve well. It will give you just enough horizontal space to do seated poses and twists and enough length so that vinyasas and supine poses don’t have you hanging off the back. If, however, you are carrying a little extra weight or you are tall (say 5’10 or over) you may want to consider getting an extra long mat to give you extra space to move forward and back and to stretch out. Or, you may want to take the leap of getting a round mat, like the Mandala 6′ Round, which gives you more room to stretch out in all of your poses. I take a long mat to class but use a round mat at home. Long, rectangular mats can easily be accommodated at the studio, but the round mat (unless everyone in the class uses one) just disrupts the arrangement of the other mats in the class. So if you take one to the studio and you’re the only one using a round mat, be prepared for some disgruntled stares from classmates and maybe your instructor.

Thickness: A yoga mat’s purpose is to provide you with a non-slip surface and to cushion your knees, hips, and other parts that come into contact with the floor. Mats at the yoga studio and less expensive mats are likely to be 1/8″ thick, perhaps slightly more. This minimal thickness is fine if you have no sensitivity in your knees during camel pose, in your hips during supine twists, in your elbows during sphinx, or in your wrists in down dog pose. But if you do have that sensitivity, a thicker mat may be best for you. Many mats advertised as “thick” are only 1/4″ thick. In fact, Manduka’s Black Mat, considered the Cadillac in thick mats, is 1/4″ thick. However, other mats, like premium mats made by Jade, are up to 5mm thick or more and just that little extra padding can make a difference in how you feel. One more thing to think about with thick mats, the thicker the mat, the heavier it is likely to be, which can be a drawback if you are toting it around from class to home and back.

Composition: Yoga mats are made of various different materials. Older mats and cheaper mats may be made of latex, PVC, or a plastic blend. You may be allergic or sensitive to some of these materials, and they are hazardous to the environment. Newer mats are made of a composite, microfiber, or hydrogen based foam that does not contain latex and are more “eco-friendly.” Mats also may be made of natural, more environmentally conscious materials like cotton, bamboo, jute, hemp, or natural rubber. Even though yoga mats are called “sticky mats” and are intended to keep you from slipping around since you practice in your bare feet, once you start to perspire the mat can get slippery. With most mats, you’ll need a yoga towel to absorb sweat and keep you from sliding around in a power, Bikram, or ashtanga class. Cotton type mats will indeed soak up sweat but they provide less cushion when damp and have to be laundered to keep them from smelling bad. Natural rubber mats are less slippery even when wet and easily cleaned; I tried the Harmony mat by Jade and even though I sweat quite a bit, I got by with just a hand towel and stayed put even in the last down dog of my practice.

Aesthetics: One of the teachings of yoga is to give up worldly, sensory pursuits that distract from practice. But most of us still want to look good and be in pleasant surroundings when doing our poses. If this is you, stop and think about whether a plain black mat (even if it’s long and thick and made of natural materials) will satisfy your sensual side. Even a lavender or teal colored mat can become boring to look at after a while. By far, Gaiam makes the most decorated yoga mats with names like Damask, Tie Dye, Flower Power, and Dragon Fly Hydrangea. Only you will know if the patterned decor is worth any sacrifice you might have to make with respect to the other features you need or want.

Price: Prices for yoga mats vary widely. You can get a cheap, “plain Jane” yoga mat on the internet for about eight bucks. If you are just trying yoga and don’t want to make a commitment, this might do. But if you are serious about practicing, expect to pay a little more. Generally, thicker natural material mats will be more expensive. Gaiam’s mats run from about $20 to about $40. Manduka’s black mat pro will set you back close to $100 and the Eko natural rubber mat is about $80. YogaAccessories makes a natural rubber mat in 5/16″ thickness for about $45 while the same thickness natural rubber mat from Jade is about $80. Madala’s 6ft Round Mat will cost you approximately $65. Prices change and sales do happen, so check around and compare prices. Check with your yoga studio too; they may have the mat you are looking for and might be able to meet a price you’ve found elsewhere.

Choosing the Best Yoga Mat for You

Having trouble picking out the right yoga mat to buy? With all the options available, choosing a yoga mat can be a daunting task. There are many factors to selecting the best yoga mat, and this guide will go over the most important factors.

What Type of Yoga? – The type of yoga you practice is a very important factor for the type of mat you’ll need. Figure out your style of yoga before making a big purchase. If you’re just beginning, you can use mats at the gym until you know which style of yoga you prefer. If you do intensive yoga or sweat a lot, you should consider a mat that doesn’t absorb odors and is anti-bacterial. A practice that is about flowing (vinyasa) postures requires a mat with superior grip. A gentle practice doesn’t require as much, so there are many more options to choose from.

What Kind of Material? – The material you choose will determine a lot about the stickiness, sponginess and durability of the mat. There some pretty standard materials and now many companies are combining the materials to create even better products.

PVC/Vinyl – Much more durable than other mats, PVC mats can last up to a decade. PVC mats are the smoothest mats on the market, so if you don’t like texture these may be the way to go. These mats aren’t sustainable though and can release toxins as they are used. PVC mats are the most spongy available.

PVC (phthalate and latex-free) – There are now PVC mats available that are phthalate free. This means they aren’t releasing harmful toxins (to our knowledge). This is a great alternative to the rubber mats if you have a latex allergy.

Rubber (natural and recycled) – Much more earth friendly, natural rubber mats are available in a wide variety of textures, thicknesses and styles. They don’t release toxins, but often start with a rubber odor. They are spongy but not as spongy as PVC mats. The traction is usually very good, especially with thicker mats.

Jute – Another great eco-friendly material! Jute mats don’t start with an odor like rubber mats. They have a rough, almost scratchy texture that bothers some but not others. They absorb more and will require more cleaning. It doesn’t have a spongy feel to it, but still has superb grip.

Organic Cotton – These mats are great for those who need more cushioning. They don’t have the same kind of gripping as the above mats, so they’re better for slower paced practices. These are usually very comfortable!

What Thickness is Right? – The thickness you will need depends on a few factors. A thicker mat will be better for someone who has sensitive knees, ankles or wrists or if you have arthritis or other joint issues. Thicker mats can handle more intensive practices without sliding around too.

Consider a thin mat if your yoga practice isn’t too intense. If you plan to carry your mat around a lot or travel with it, a thinner, lighter-weight mat is easier to manage. Also, thin mats provide a stronger connection to the ground which can be great for stability.

Price and Skill Level – The price of yoga mats ranges from $10 – $100. Your skill level will determine a lot about how much you should consider spending on a yoga mat. For beginners, you’ll probably be able to find a mat that supports your needs for $20 or less. People who are becoming more serious about yoga may want to consider eco-friendly, higher-quality mats at around $40 – $60. Beyond that, you get into professional mats which can be great for people practicing more advanced yoga.

Keeping Your Mat Clean – Keeping your mat clean will help its performance and reduce bacterial buildup. This is especially important for pvc mats (which lose their traction if they’re not clean). A sweaty practice will require that you clean your yoga mat more often too. There are many sprays, rosins and cleaners available for keeping your mat clean. Many mats you can just wash in the washer or in the bath tub. When in doubt, check with the manufacturer for the best cleaning method.

Other Accessories – Besides cleaning products, there are other products on the market that can complement your choice of yoga mat. If you’re having trouble keeping your grip, you might want to consider sticky towels, which add extra grip and absorption. There are also sticky gloves and socks available, which can eliminate the need for a mat entirely.

The Best Mat for You – Determining what factors are most important to you is the best way to figure out what mat to pick. Do you have sensitive joints? Get a thicker mat. Do you care about the earth? Get an Eco-friendly material. Do you practice hot yoga? Get an anti-bacterial mat. Understanding your style of yoga and your body’s needs are the first steps to picking a mat that can best support you.

What To Look For In A Premium Yoga Mat

A good yoga mat is essential for anyone who practices the art of yoga. The quality of your practice will be maximized with the right choice in a mat. When selecting the best premium yoga and Pilates mat, you must consider which kind best suits you and the type of yoga you practice. A deluxe thick yoga and Pilates mat is a personal favorite of many long-time yogi and Pilates enthusiasts. When you first start out with yoga practice, you may use what is provided by your instructor or by your yoga class.

High-end mats claim to last a lifetime and may be the only one you will ever have to buy. When looking at the best premium yoga mat for hot yoga you will probably want to look at something just a little thicker. A thicker non-slip one is good for all types of yoga styles, especially for restorative poses. When considering custom yoga mats you will need to choose between thicker and traditional sticky mats. Whether you are using it for yoga or mediation, they can provide great cushioning and support for you.

A Unique Product In The Exercise Market

The cost of yoga and Pilates mats can vary quite a bit. They can range from $15-$150 or more! When selecting a yoga mat, you have the right to be picky. Even when just getting started, most people want their own mat. The opportunity to have your own pops up if you need or want to have your own mat for hygiene reasons or if you don’t like the club that you are at provides. A good yoga mat will resist the regular wear and tear of use, and stubbornly resist odors. (Note: the premium yoga mats will not have the strong odors that many cheap ones have.) Unless you are very tall, the length is generally not an issue. Premium yoga mats usually start from $60 on up.

Having A Non-Slip Premium Mat Is A Must

A premium one provides a stable, non-slip surface so you do not need to worry about slipping or falling and will give you superior use year in and year out with proper care. Having an ultra sticky mat can be uncomfortable when moving from one pose into another, so looking for a good non-slip yoga mat is usually more comfortable for yogis. (Note: there are different levels of non-slip)

A Thick Yoga Mat Would Make It Comfortable

Yoga and Pilates mats typically range from 1/16 of an inch to 1/4 of an inch thick – and a few can be thicker. At two times as thick as a standard one, a deluxe mat can offer complete joint protection and comfort. There are thick and squishy mats that might be more comfortable for when you are down on the floor, yet not as stable for when you are doing standing and balancing poses. And then there are thick and dense premium yoga mats that are great for those floor routines, yet are much more stable for standing and balancing poses. This is where quality comes in. The good news for budding yogis is a mat and comfortable clothes are really all you need to get started, so it’s best to splurge on the best mat you can get, or you might not keep practicing yoga!

The mat needs to give firm support for ease with all the yoga postures and movements. No more sore ankles while you sit in lotus position, as the mat is ideal for all types of yoga, especially restorative poses.

Travel

The thinnest mats, often called travel yoga mats, are one-sixteenth inch thick and are easy to fold and carry, but might cause pain when used on a hard floor. Travel yoga mats are perfect for people who need their mats to be highly portable and lightweight. Travel mats are usually a bit shorter. Travel mats tend to roll up more easily and are often thinner than regular mats, which can impact comfort especially if using often. You will experience no more slipping and no more need for a bunched-up Towel moving around on the floor.

Yoga Mats – Your Ultimate Guide to Finding the Perfect Yoga Mat

Yoga mats that properly support your body are essential for your enjoyment and success with yoga asanas (postures).  Yoga mats prevent and decrease injuries that can be caused by slippery surfaces.   Yoga mats are used by anyone practicing yoga to help them create a barrier between themselves and the floor.   Yoga mats can be purchased for as little as $20 and many studios and yoga classes will let you store your mat with them if you are a regular. Some will even offer you a free mat to use during your sessions. Research has not confirmed the link between unclean  yoga mats and fungal, bacterial and viral infections, plantar warts and staph infections.

Yoga mats have 4 requirements:
1.) they need to be safe,
2.) durable,
3.) comfortable, and
4.) environmental friendly.

Good Yoga mats will help you improve your balance and coordination and give you better stability and traction. If you are  looking for a natural, eco-friendly alternative to sticky  synthetic yoga mats which may be full of chemicals, then  consider an organic hemp, bamboo, or cotton variety of yoga mat.

Custom Yoga Mat

Mats come in a variety of custom colors and sizes, with the standard size of 24″ x 68″. There are also 100% hemp yoga and meditation mats made from certified organic European hemp: processed without chemicals for true purity and environmental sustainability.  You’ll love an organic hemp yoga or meditation mat if you’re looking for something natural, organic, and soft during your yoga session so that you forget about your worries of synthetic or dusty carpets (many yoga studios have carpeted or synthetic and dusty flooring).  Rolled up, the yoga mat makes a great pillow and also a lower back support.  We’ve found that mats are also good for the second (mat to lie on) and third (folded up for knee support) of the Five Tibetan Rejuvenation Rites since bare floors can be very hard on your knees.

Yoga Mat Products

There are half a dozen type of yoga-mat wipes available, and new products like hand and foot mitts will protect yoga mat borrowers.  Though, you should keep in mind that it has not been proven that you can ‘catch’ a virus, fungus or other bacteria from another person’s yoga mat, you will still probably want to purchase your own, as it will become personal to you, and you will be able to maintain it and know that it is your very own.

Meditation Mats

A hand-woven yoga mat is best if you want to do gentle yoga, meditation or relaxation. A comfortable bamboo meditation bench with rounded leg bottoms is also suitable for long meditations.  For complete yoga that includes exercises, meditation, breathing (pranayama) and relaxation, sticky mats should not be used. For a sitting meditation, you may want to fold the mat two or three times so that you have a thicker cushion under you while you sit.   Rolled up, the hemp yoga and meditation mats make a great pillow and lower back support too.

Cotton Yoga Mats

Yoga mats are made of cotton, jute, rubber, rug and synthetic materials.  A 100% cotton yoga mat rug for your practice may be best if you have allergic reactions to other materials, or just wish a softer, more cushier mat.  An all natural zabuton mat is handmade from chemical- free green cotton. A long lasting filler for pillows is organic buckwheat hulls as it conforms to your body’s shape and is usually wrapped in a organic cotton twill shell with a hidden zipper carry handle.

Natural Yoga Mats

The original eco yoga mat is  made with all-natural rubber and jute fiber and is excellent for any consistent practice of yoga. Its rubber underside grips  the floor and the jute fabric/rubber mix on top offers superb traction and a highly durable, tactile and pleasantly natural surface to practice on.

Eco Yoga Mats

Selecting an eco yoga mat is a perfect choice as you pose your way to enlightenment and inner peace in your yoga practice.  Even a carpet can potentially become slippery and cause  an injury, especially in a more complicated pose.  After extensive research, I believe that the ecoYoga mat is currently the greenest  option available for those who wish to practice on a sticky mat.  Better still, you may want to show a little eco enlightenment at your next yoga class with a PVC-free mat.  In the past, we’ve given you a few  options regarding eco-sensitive yoga mats: the Harmony Rubber Yoga Mat, and Eco Mats by Eco Yoga.

Green Yoga Mats

Greenpeace wants all PVC production to cease, because it releases dioxins into  the environment.   An all natural zabuton mat is handmade from chemical-free green cotton.

Organic Yoga Mats

Organic hemp yoga, meditation mats are eco-friendly, all-natural and sustainably made. What better way to be there than starting  with synthetic-free, plastic-free, chemical-free,  and toxin-free organic hemp mat on which  to perform your asana’s. When purchasing new yoga clothes or yoga  products, you should consider shopping at a organic clothing store, fair  trade business,recycle shop, etc.

Colors

Most retailers offer a wide variety of colors and designs.  You should be able to find any color that you like in a yoga mat, I’ve seen them in everything from bright red to purple to deep aqua to the natural colors of organic cotton and bamboo.

Yoga Mat Essentials

Yoga mats can be purchased for as little as $20, and many studios let you store your mat with them.   Yoga mats are handy, safe and comfortable for yoga practice.  The standard size of 24″ x 68.  Yoga mats provide ideal base  for  practicing yoga safely and comfortably.  There are some yoga mats that are not made of PVC, which is considered to be the most toxic of all plastics, and is found in more than 90% of today’s sticky mats. Alternative materials such as hemp, cotton, bamboo and other materials can be used instead of PVC when you are looking for a more organic or chemical-free experience, or simply to prevent allergic reactions.