Renowned for its positive effects on both the mind and the body, yoga is one of the best forms of exercise out there. From building up your body’s strength to potentially reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression, it’s no wonder that this workout craze is here to stay.
In terms of its accessibility and ease, it’s also miles ahead of its competitors. With nothing but ample space around you and a high-quality mat, yoga can be done anywhere at any time.
But when it comes to choosing the best yoga mat, this is where things can get slightly complicated. What you want is a mat that’s comfortable yet portable, and durable but sustainable. With so many different options on the market, how do you know what option is best for you?
Well, we’re here to help. Below, we’ll explore what to consider when choosing your yoga mat and how you can find something that suits your skill levels, lifestyle, values and budget. Let’s get started.
Durability and longevity
If you’re investing in a brand new yoga mat, you want it to be worth your coins. Generally, the stronger and thicker the material you choose, the more durable your mat will be. For example, PVC mats are affordable and have excellent floor grip, however, they are not biodegradable or as eco-conscious as other options on the market.
On the other hand, eco-friendly yoga mats can be made from many different materials, such as cork or natural rubber, their natural textures provide excellent traction for your body while you’re practising. Although they aren’t quite as durable as PVC, they can still last a considerable amount of time if cared for properly and offer a sustainable alternative if that’s a high priority for you.
Thickness and weight
Yoga mats come in a range of thicknesses that suit various workout styles. While thinner mats can help improve stability and grip, thicker mats are more comfortable and better suited for therapeutic and restorative practices. However, they can also be harder to balance when performing standing poses.
If you’re planning on travelling with your yoga mat, we recommend using a travel mat. Designed to be ultra-thin and light, travel mats will easily fit into your suitcase or carry-on bag, although you’ll be sacrificing your comfort levels to allow for this convenience.
Texture and stickiness
The texture of your yoga mat is directly related to how much traction it’ll give you. This comes down to personal preference, with some preferring smooth, soft yoga mats made from PVC whereas others prefer the rougher texture of natural yoga mats made from jute or corks. If you’re looking for a mat that’ll save you from slipping and sliding all over the place during those sweaty workouts, we recommend a more textured option.
Another important factor of yoga mats is their stickiness. The stickier the mat, the more it’ll prevent you from sliding around and help you maintain your alignment as you hold or move between poses. PVC mats are generally the stickiest, but they have to be regularly cleaned and cared for properly to stay this way.
One of the best benefits of yoga is that it promotes mindfulness – that is, a higher level of consciousness and awareness of yourself and the world around you. With that in mind, it makes sense that many people who practise yoga would wince at the thought of using a yoga mat that will end up in a landfill for decades upon decades.
That’s why you’ll notice less and less people using traditional PVC mats, and instead opting for eco-friendly yoga mats made from materials like natural or recycled rubber, jute or corks.
Generally speaking, the cheapest yoga mats you’ll find will be made from PVC and be about ⅛ inch thick. Environmentally friendly yoga mats tend to be a little more expensive but come with the priceless benefit of helping keep our planet green. You’ll also find that you’ll end up paying for more textured, patterned or thicker mats. What feels right is up to you and your budget, as well as your priorities and values.