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Whatever form of yoga that you practise, one of the most important pieces of equipment is your yoga mat. But with so many different types out there, what are the deciding factors in which one to pick? Well, here are a few tips on how to choose the right yoga mat for you.
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How To Choose The Right Yoga Mat
With so many different elements to choose from, and such a wide variety of styles, what features should you look for in a new yoga mat? Here are some of the best ways to make your decision.
The standard thickness of most yoga mats is 1/8 of an inch (4-5mm) – this is the perfect combination for being supported and yet being able to feel the floor through the mat. Most mats are this thickness and most people feel that this provides the optimum performance.
However, as a yoga beginner, or if you are practising more low intensity yoga and need more support, a thicker mat may be more ideal. Thicker mats are 1/4 inch thick (6-8mm) and they certainly feel more cushioned. On the downside though, a thicker mat may mean that you cannot feel the floor as well, and may mean that your balancing poses are not as easy to achieve as the cushioning effect can make you wobble more.
Need an ultra lightweight and more portable mat? If you plan on travelling or taking your mat on holiday, then the perfect mat for you may be an ultra thin 1/16 inch thick mat. These ultralight mats are ultimately portable, and perfect for if you prefer to feel the ground more as you transition through your yoga sequences.
The thickness of the mat can also affect its portability and storability. A thinner mat will fit into a smaller space, and some of the ultra lightweight mats can even be folded.
The material of the mat is also an important consideration.
PVC is the most common material that mats are constructed from. These mats are durable, comfortable, and provide excellent stickiness. But they are not the most environmentally friendly. And they do become slippery when wet. So if you sweat a lot during your yoga then this may be a consideration.
Rubber and foam mats are slightly more eco friendly, but not suitable for people with latex allergies.
Cotton and jute are the most ecofriendly options available. They are better if you sweat a lot, as they absorb this moisture without becoming slippery. However, they offer very little support when compared to the PVC, rubber and foam varieties. And jute can actually be rather rough to the skin.
The size of the mat can be an important consideration when choosing your perfect mat. Pretty much all yoga mats come in the standard width of 24 inches. And the standard length yoga mats are normally 68 inches long. But if you are tall then you can opt for a longer mat at 72 inches or even 74 inches.
Next, it is important to consider the ‘stickiness’ of the mat that you are choosing. Stickiness is the suction force that comes between your body and the mat as your body touch the mat’s surface. This suction helps you to hold your poses and helps keep your hands and feet in position as you practise trickier transitions.
PVC and foam mats are the best for this stickiness. Whilst understandably cotton and jute have negligible stickiness to them. However, again it is important to remember that how much you sweat does affect this.
The texture of the mat is another factor that can help you grip when practising poses and transitioning. It can stop you slipping and sliding. Some mats are completely smooth, whilst others have a more textured surface. Again, this is a very personal choice.
Sustainability may be an important consideration when you are deciding how to choose the perfect yoga mat for you.
As I said before, PVC may not be the most eco friendly option. It does not biodegrade and may not be able to be recycled. Rubber, jute and cotton all do biodegrade, but may not have the other properties you are looking for in your ideal mat.
Obviously your budget is an important consideration. If you are a beginner and not sure whether this new hobby is going to last, then it makes sense not too plump for an expensive mat.
However, if you decide that yoga is going to be a large part of your life over the years to come, then you may want to invest in a mat that offers all the best features that you need. And you may be willing to pay that little bit more.
Finally, one of the most individual things to look for in a yoga mat is style. There are many different ways that a yoga mat can be personalised to reflect your own personality. From vibrant pictures to zen abstract paintings, it is easy to move away from a boring plain mat to something that says a bit more about you. Stand out from the crowd!
So hopefully by deciding which elements you need in your chosen yoga mat it will help you decide how to choose the right yoga mat that fits best with your practice. I hope that you find the perfect mat for you.