Yoga is a fantastic exercise that can help you not only lose fat and strengthen your muscles, but relax and center yourself in a way that other forms of physical activity simply can’t. But just like any other exercise, you need the right equipment in order to maximize your results, and it comes down to your yoga mat. Since your entire yoga practice is done on a mat, the quality, make, and feel is incredibly important. You might normally pick out the cheapest mat possible, but there’s a whole host of other factors that should weigh in on your decision, because your yoga mat can last you for years to come. If it’s not the right mat for you, you could be sabotaging your own practice.
Read on to find out how to pick a yoga mat so that you can be the master of your practice.
When it comes to mat thickness, everyone has a different preference. Whether you like them thin, thick, or mattress-like, it comes down to how you like your mat to feel underneath you. Some people love to feel rooted to the ground during poses (which is where a thin mat can help), but some like the extra cushioned support of a thick mat, especially if they have bad joints or pain. A standard mat runs about ⅛ of an inch thick, but keep in mind they tend to wear down over time. If you notice your wobbling more than usual or can’t keep your feet flat during poses, your mat might be too thick.
Texture is essentially the main reason why we use yoga mats. If you’ve ever tried to do yoga without a mat, it’s likely turned into a slip and slide that sure doesn’t help with your poses. The texture of a mat helps keep you grounded and gives you traction so that you can explore your poses without worrying about slipping and hurting something (we’re not getting any younger!). Generally, the stickiness of a yoga mat is enough to keep it in place, but if you’re finding the sweat from hot yoga is making you slip, you can get mats with raised patterns to give you even more grip.
The material of your mat will dictate how long it will last you. PVC mats are super durable, which becomes important if yoga is your main source of exercise (tip: use an antibacterial spray to keep your mat fresh for longer). If you’re looking for a more eco-friendly option, opt for natural rubber or organic cotton, but keep in mind that cotton will have less give to it. If material isn’t super important to you, you’re better off choosing based on thickness and texture to make sure your yoga practice is the best it can be.
Choosing a yoga mat based on all the above is important, but at the end of the day it matters that you like the look of your yoga mat. After all, you spend an hour or more at a time planted on your little island of a mat, so you want it to be a source of positivity and happiness and a plain black mat might not be the hue to do it for you. If a style, color and pattern you love can bring you little bursts of joy throughout your practice, all the better! Choose a mat that you love to carry, unroll, and gaze at during downward dog, and dragging yourself out of bed at 6 a.m. for your yoga flow class will become just a little bit easier.
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