Whether you are a complete novice or a long-time enthusiast, having the right yoga mat can make a big difference to your practice. It's easy to get overwhelmed in the face of the endless choices on the market that vary in price, style, thickness, material, and more. While the vast majority of yoga mats work well for any style of yoga, understanding the differences will help you choose the right mat for you. This article will tell you how to choose the right yoga mat.
A thin yoga mat is about 1/16th of an inch thick and is ideal for practicing balance poses that give you a strong connection to the ground. The downside of a thin mat is that it provides you with less cushioned support. 1/4-inch yoga mats are considered thick and may be better suited for back support during core work, inversions, and other poses that cause your bones to dig into the ground. If you want a happy medium, choose a standard yoga mat labeled 3.3 mm or 1/8 inch thick.
The material of your yoga mat will determine how much pressure it can withstand over time.
Here are the most common types of yoga mat materials
Foam yoga mat: This is an eco-friendly type of yoga mat. It is comfortable and durable.
PVC yoga mat: This is an entry-level yoga mat that is made up of polyvinyl chloride. It is not biodegradable, which means it is dangerous to the environment but is an inexpensive option.
Cotton yoga mat: These yoga mats are fairly thin and environmentally friendly. You can also combine them with other yoga mats for extra support. Cotton yoga mats can add grip by absorbing sweat.
Rubber yoga mat: This yoga mat can be used as an alternative to a PVC mat. If you are allergic to latex, it may give you trouble.
Jute yoga mat: It is a fibrous material that has the same elasticity as cotton. It's also durable and can be paired with other mats for added traction.
The grip is one of the most important elements of a functional and safe yoga mat.
If you've ever attended a heated yoga class without a towel, then you're probably familiar with the effects of slipping and falling. But even if you practice in a cold climate, a good grip can make a big difference in downward dog poses.
Non-slip mats are becoming more and more popular. These mats will have a sticky surface to keep you in place during flow. For gecko levels of grip and a soft touch, there's nothing better than a cork yoga mat.
Generally speaking, a basic 1/8-inch thick solid-color PVC sticky yoga mat will be at the low end of the price range. On top of that, you can pay more for patterns, designs or logos, premium thickness, antimicrobial treatments, and cool textures, especially raised tactile patterns. Eco-friendly yoga mats tend to be at the high end of the price range.
If you're not sure where to start, choose a mat that's about 1/8-in. thick (or 3.175 mm), a pretty standard thickness.
Natural rubber is probably the best material choice for yoga mats and has been on the market for a long time, longer than foam and PVC. The rubber in these mats comes from nature and is therefore very easily biodegradable. Natural rubber yoga mats have a slightly harder surface, but they make up for it with their firm grip.
If you are a complete novice, it is best to start with the cheaper option. That way, you won't risk spending a lot of money only to find out that you don't have any use for it. However, make sure you choose a mat that has enough grip, as this will make it easier to hold each pose.
The lifespan of your yoga mat depends greatly on the quality of the mat and how often you use it. Generally speaking, mats last about a year.
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