Choosing a mat for yoga can be a lot like choosing sneakers for running. And while aesthetics are up for consideration, there are a lot of details to consider! Here are a few things we like to think about when choosing our mats:
Yoga mats are made from a variety of material including PVC, foam, rubber, cotton, jute, cork, etc. Many mats you see at box stores are made of PVC, which provides nice cushioning and is virtually indestructible, but also can be very slippery. Eco-friendly mats are often made of recycled rubber or organic cotton. Consider this latter option if you’re keen on sustainability. You may opt for a mat’s material content based on your lifestyle, but ultimately, the material is key to the feel of the mat.
On a ruler, 1/16-inch to 1/4-inch may not seem like a huge difference, but when you’re in tabletop or child’s pose, it will. Standard mats are typically 1/8-inch thick. If you are mainly practicing restorative or want some more cushion for your joints, a thicker mat may be best for you. However, the more cushion the mat provides, the less stability you may find in balancing poses. Mats closer to 1/16-inch often can be folded (rather than rolled) making travel with your mat a lot easier. Of course, if you opt for a thinner mat, using a blanket is always an option to compensate for lack of cushion if needed.
The dimension of a standard yoga mat are 68” long by 24” wide. However, variations can be found if you are a little taller length or width wise. Unsure if 68” long by 24” wide feels adequate, take out the tape measure and painter’s tape. Mark out on the floor with the painter’s tape what 68” long by 24” wide looks like. Lay inside those demarcations as you would for savasana. Try a couple poses. Seem comfortable? Then the standard size is what you should look for. Seem to short on the height or width, pay attention to those figures when seeking out the perfect mat.
The texture of the mat plays a two-fold roll. When thinking about texture, the first step is making sure you like how the mat feels. The second step is considering how the mat will function. More texture and more stickiness allow for better grip, especially if (when) you start sweating.
Style of Yoga
Asana, the physical practice of yoga, comes in many forms. Do you practice at home, in a studio, or outside? Do you practice Vinyasa, Bikram, or restorative? Where you practice and how you practice can play into your choice of yoga mat. If you like different forms of yoga, you may opt to have a mat collection. If you’re a beginner or have a versatile practice, try to find a mat that is versatile (kind of like crosstrainer sneakers).
You can find a yoga mat for $12.99 at a discount box store or pay upwards of $100 for a boutique brand mat. If you’re on a budget, be mindful that finding a mat that meets your criteria is a good investment towards your practice and will make a difference in ease of moving in a class.
Consider all the options
We offer Manduka mats for rental and purchase here at the studio. You’re welcome to rent one of the studio mats to see how it feels, or maybe check with a friend who is in love with whatever brand mat they’ve chosen. Whatever brand you do decide on, a fun extra perk of buying a new mat is getting to pick the pattern or color that brings you the most joy!
Happy mat hunting!
Emma Bouthillette discovered yoga as a supplement to her gym workouts in 2012, but by 2013 her gym visits lessened and so did her visits to the yoga studio. With encouragement from her mental health providers, Emma started practicing yoga at home in 2016 and found Samudra in the spring of 2017 when she signed up for a “mantra, movement, and meditation” workshop. It was love at first “om” and her practice flourished from there. As a writer with a digital marketing background, she writes for Samudra’s blog and newsletter. Emma completed her teacher training this past spring at Samudra’s first Fluid Yoga teacher training. When she’s not on the mat, Emma enjoys time with her corgi, Savvy, reading, and writing.