You have finally made up your mind to join the yoga tribe or are already into one. A yoga mat is one of the primary accessories you need. While all the mats look similar, they vary greatly in their material, thickness, and size. Finding the one that suits your needs makes a huge impact on how comfortable you are when transitioning into different poses. We bring to you some important tips that will help you choose the right yoga mat.
How To Choose The Right Yoga Mat
1. Know The Type Of Yoga
Yoga has 9 different types. Knowing the type of yoga you will be practicing is the key. Hatha, Yin, Asthanga, and kundalini forms mostly involve lesser moving around from one place to another. So, a mat that provides a decent grip and is comfortable for sitting positions best suits these forms.
The forms like Vinyasa, Iyengar, and restorative yoga involve more complex movements. These require a mat that provides a strong grip and has more traction to hold your positions without slipping over.
Hot yoga and Bikram yoga are the extensive forms of yoga that involve continuous moving around in a heated room. Mats designed specifically to suit this environment are available and choosing them is the best bet. Such mats do not absorb the sweat, preventing the damage caused by it.
2. Choose The Mat With Right Thickness
Yoga mats range between 1/4th and 1/8th of an inch. If you are a beginner, you would need a thicker mat for better padding. It is also needed in case you have sensitive joints or are of a petite frame.
However, the only disadvantage of thicker mats is that they might affect your stability, making you lose balance at times. If you are unsure about the thickness, begin with 1/6th of an inch.
Padded mats are also available, which consist of an inside layer made of foam and outer layers of cotton covering. Though comfortable, they do not provide enough grip when practicing certain poses.
3. Check For The One With Grip
The surface of the yoga mat is yet another important factor to consider. You do not want to see one of your feet sliding involuntarily when you get into the triangle pose. Non-slip mats, also known as sticky mats are designed specifically to overcome this. This property makes the mat stick to the ground and gives you a non-skid surface on top.
4. Consider The Weight
Weight is an important factor if you carry your mat to the class on a daily basis. Ideally, the mat shouldn’t weight more than 4 pounds, which otherwise would make it bulky. If you are a frequent traveler and practice yoga every day, a lighter mat doesn’t eat up much of your packing space. Moreover, it is easy to store when light.
In case you practice yoga at home and do not frequently roll up the mat, weight is less important.
5. Look Out For The Material
Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC) is a widely used material in making yoga mats. This chemical is not only harsh on the environment but is also a potent carcinogen. The best alternatives are PVC-free mats, which do not pose any health hazards. Rubber mats are also available, which are made from natural latex and are a lot cheaper.
Some yoga mats are made of cotton. But these haven’t gained much popularity due to lack of grip and increased sweat absorption capacity. As sweat gets absorbed easily, you might want to wash it often.
6. Pick The Right Size
Generally, all mats are 68 inches long and 24 inches wide. These work well for people with an average height and body frame. But, if you are taller than 6 feets or are on the heavier side, extra-long and extra-wide mats are also available. Again, make sure the larger size doesn’t make your mat bulky to carry around.
Remember, your hands or legs shouldn’t spill out of the mat when doing the corpse pose (savasana), as this lets the energy pass to the ground. The right size, therefore, plays a vital role.
7. Choose The Color That Pleases You
The aesthetic appearance of the mat directly impacts your interest level in yoga. Choose the color and pattern that appeals you and keeps your spirits high. Though trivial, this factor helps you keep the learning curve up.
So, the next time you buy a yoga mat, keep a check on these factors. Attention to detail when buying comes a long way in providing the required comfort, grip, and support.