Feeling a little overwhelmed with all the choices for yoga mats? Thick, thin, sticky, different colors, textures, lengths, materials...the options are endless, how do you know which one is for you? Let me breakdown the different things to look for when buying your next yoga mat so you don't get stuck with a mat that stays rolled up in the back of your closet (because we all have one there). Here are the 4 things to consider during your next purchase; the thickness of the mat, the stickiness, the price and the look.
1. Thickness. The standard yoga mat is 3mm thick and provides enough cushion for kneeling & seated postures while still being firm enough for stability in standing and balancing postures. If your knees, ankles or elbows hurt when you are doing seated or kneeling postures I'd suggest a thicker mat like 4mm-5mm. Thicker mats are also great for restorative and gentle classes. Just be aware it will be harder to balance on a thick mat and these mats are generally heavier so I'd invest in a good carrying bag. There are also thin mats that are 1.5mm thin or thinner. These are super light and great for travel or adding on top of your standard mat for a little extra cushion for that one restorative class you take each week.
2. Stickiness. Most yoga mats have light tack, which provides enough stickiness to prevent slipping in poses. The only time I'd recommend something with high tack or extra texture is if you take power vinyasa regularly or sweat a lot. You can also purchase a yoga towel that is placed over your mat for these types of classes that aids in absorbing your sweat to prevent slippage. The benefit of these yoga towels is that you can throw them in the wash after class, which is kinda hard to do with a yoga mat.
3. Price. Yoga mats can differ in price greatly. From $15 up to $150. This all depends on the quality, the materials used to make the mat, the thickness of the mat and the length. Your cheaper mats (under $20) are great for beach yoga, kids or if you are just starting out and don't want to spend a fortune. However, these usually won't last and you'll need a new on in about 6 months. Moderate priced mats ($20-$50) are great for most yogis and will last a year or two, depending on how often you practice. Pricier mats ($50+) are usually made with special materials, are thicker or extra long, or have a lifetime warranty. If yoga is your life and you practice 3 or more times a week I'd invest in one of these. I mean, runners pay $100 or more for a good pair of running shoes, why wouldn't you do the same for a good yoga mat?
4. Look. You need to find a yoga mat that you love. If you get a color you don't like, chances are you won't be excited to use it. But if you find a mat that is your favorite color, or has a fun design on it, it will motivate you to roll it out and get on it. Kind of like when you buy new workout clothes, you look forward to your workout because you can't wait to wear the clothes.
By Barbara King, 500-ERYT Instructor & Owner
Yoga with a twist.
This is a collection of thoughts, information, product reviews and humor from our expert yoga instructors.