07 Jun How to choose a yoga mat
Until just a few years back, the choice of yoga gear, and especially yoga mats, was very limited. Basically, if you wanted to purchase a yoga mat, you had to go to a sporting goods shop and buy a standard fitness mat with a choice between blue and purple color…
Today, manufacturers compete inventiveness to offer technical products actually suitable for yoga practitioners’ needs and if it is a real bonus for us, yoga enthusiasts, it can also make the purchase of a mat a bit more tricky. Here is a little guide to help you choose your yoga mat to get the best out of your practice.
Here are some questions you should ask yourself before buying a yoga mat:
1. Are you going to practice in a hot environment?
This is very important because it will determine your need for a sticky mat. Same thing if you’re used to sweating a lot when you’re exercising. If this is the case, we suggest you invest in a natural rubber yoga mat, otherwise you will slide around on your yoga mat throughout the class… It is indeed very annoying when trying to perfect downward facing dog! Another option may be to buy a classic yoga mat and use a yoga towel to avoid slipping. Finally, be aware that there are also yoga socks and gloves that give a good grip but also tend to take away the feeling of the mat.
2. Do your knees hurt you when you kneel down?
Another crucial question, because it will determine the thickness of the mat you need. Most yoga mats have a thickness of 3 to 5mm but there are thicker versions that can go up to 12/15mm. If you have sensitive knees, you will like to have a thicker mat that will protect you from the hardness of the ground. There are many asanas where the knees, hands or elbows bear the weight of the body on the floor and it can be very painful if you do not have a proper mat.
3. Will you keep your yoga mat at home or take it everywhere with you?
Whether because you need to bring it to your yoga studio for every class or if you travel a lot, a heavy mat can be annoying in the long run. In general the most sophisticated yoga mats weigh a little more than the others because they are thicker and made of heavier materials. On the other hand, there are also travel mats that are specifically designed for portability, but they are very thin and might not be as comfortable as regular yoga mats. Make sure you take the weight of the mat into account when choosing it!
4. Are you allergic to latex?
It is not very common but some people are allergic to latex and therefore can not use yoga mats containing latex (most yoga mats are made of different materials, including latex). If it is your case, do not hesitate to look precisely the composition of each mat and opt for a natural version, either made of natural rubber or cotton.
5. What is your budget?
Last question but not least because there are now yoga mats costing around 100€ and not everybody has neither the budget nor the inclination to spend so much on this yoga gear. If you’re going to use it every day, it might perhaps be worth spending a little more to ensure the mat is really comfortable and durable, but if yoga is only a secondary activity for you, I suggest you go with a basic mat.