Once you have made the decision to take up yoga and start your journey to become a yogi or yogini, you will need to invest in a comfortable and safe yoga mat. As soon as you start shopping around you will find that there are many different yoga mats available and you may become overwhelmed.
There are a few basic features that you need to consider when choosing a yoga mat that will help you make an informed decision. I will break them down for you so choosing a yoga mat will be a piece of cake.
In my opinion, the size of the yoga mat is the most important factor to consider. If you are 6-foot tall or taller, then a standard size yoga mat will probably not be the best choice for you. Doing a few poses on a standard sized mat at your local gym or yoga studio, if you can manage a few poses with your hands and feet securely on the mat then a standard size mat will be perfect for you; however, if not, then you need a mat with extra width and length.
Generally, most yoga mats are either made of PVC, or vinyl as it is otherwise known, or TPE. The material used will influence the price with PVC mats tending to be slightly cheaper, However, the PVC or vinyl mats are not eco-friendly.
TPE (thermoplastic elastomers) is fast becoming the favorite choice for yogis. There are many reasons for this but most importantly it is eco-friendly. It is also non-toxic, recyclable and free of harmful chemicals. The TPE mats are normally lighter than their PVC counterparts, more durable and longer lasting.
TPE mats are odorless which is a huge advantage because you will have your face close to the mat a lot. Most are also waterproof, so they won’t absorb your sweat and are very easy to keep clean and hygienic.
TPE is PVC and latex free, and hypo-allergenic which is great if you have allergies. While they may be slightly more expensive the TPE yoga mats are truer to the spirit of yoga and well worth the extra money.
The thickness of your mat is an extremely important factor as this will determine how comfortable you will be during your yoga sessions. Some yogis believe that a thicker mat will make you unstable and off balance when doing certain poses, however, this is not always the case.
If you suffer from or have suffered from back or knee pain, a thicker mat will be the better option for you. A thicker mat will take some of the pressure off your joints allowing you to enjoy your session in comfort.
The standard thickness for a yoga mat is approximately 1/8 of an inch thick with some going up to ¼ of an inch thick. A travel yoga mat can be as thin as 1/16 of an inch thick making them easy to fold and fit into a small bag to take with when traveling.
The texture of a yoga mat will determine if the yoga mat is non-slip or not. Some yoga mats are double sided with different textures on each side, with the rougher texture on the bottom so that the yoga mat doesn’t slip, no matter the surface of the floor.
The top texture is normally less rough so that it keeps your hands and feet from slipping without hurting you. Comfort is very important when doing yoga. If you are very sensitive, choose a mat that is only slightly textured so that it doesn’t irritate you while you are doing yoga; remember though that less texture will make it more slippery.
The color and design are the least important factors to consider when choosing a yoga mat, however, having the perfect color and design are a huge bonus. Yoginis are especially concerned about choosing the perfect color and design to match their studio, personality or even perhaps their outfit.
The great news is that there are many color and design choices available, with some mats available in up to 20 different designs. Whether you want a solid color or two-tone design, you are certain to find it.
A lot of how to choose a yoga mat will come down to personal preference. Yogis are truly spoilt for choice with yoga mats available in abundance to suit everyone’s needs. Be sure to choose a yoga mat that gives you comfort and keeps you safe, so you can focus on your poses and enjoy the moment.