Whether you're a yogi who attends classes in a studio or practices in the comfort of your own home, it's important to know what type of yoga you practice the most, because each yoga style has a corresponding mat type that will work best for your practice.
If you're more likely to practice yoga that involves holding poses for longer periods of time, as would be the case with hatha yoga, yin yoga, and restorative yoga, you would benefit from a thicker yoga mat that will cushion your body as you hold these poses.
If you're more likely to practice yoga that features more movement and power poses, like vinyasa yoga and ashtanga yoga, you'll want a mat that offers support but doesn't let you sink into the material, which would make it hard to transition between poses.
Vinyasa is my favorite yoga to practice because it combines fast movement with a few static poses!
Yoga classes often include their type in the class name. The same can often be said of yoga videos that you can find online, but if you're still unsure, you can always talk to your yoga instructor and fellow yogis!
Now that you have a better idea of what type of yoga you practice, you can now decide what material would best suit your needs.
The material of your mat helps to dictate the texture, stickiness, and sponginess of your mat. Mats can be made out of vinyl, rubber, TPE, hemp, jute, cotton, and cork. Many yogis have personal preferences when it comes to what type of mat they practice on, but I'll break down some of the main materials you'll see on the market!
|Vinyl (PVC)||Not biodegradable||High||High|
There are always going to be exceptions to different mats, but it's always a good rule of thumb to read every descriptor of the mat itself because it will break down the different elements of the mat itself. In a nutshell, you want a mat that supports you and supports your preferred yoga style,
The thickness of a yoga mat determines the comfort of the mat, or the plush factor if you will. Most yoga mats are 1/8" thick, which offers just enough cushion to protect you when you're practicing on the floor.
Yoga mats that are 1/8" are pretty much perfect for any type of yogi and yoga type.
The thinnest yoga mats are 1/16". Mats that are this thin are usually travel mats, which can be easily condensed and are very light. These mats are perfect for yogis on the go.
Thicker mats are usually 1/4" thick and are perfect for yogis with weaker wrists, or who need a little extra cushion beneath your joints. Thicker mats are especially good in slower-moving yoga styles, like hatha, yin, and restorative yoga, where you'll hold positions for longer periods of time.
The beauty of yoga is that you can practice it where ever you want to, so long as you have a yoga mat and enough space. It's also important to consider the space you plan to practice or practice the most in.
If you're practicing at home, consider what floor you're practicing on. If you have hardwood or concrete floors, which can be harder on your wrists, knees, and joints in general, you'll benefit from a yoga mat that is slightly thicker. If you're practicing on carpet, you may not need the added plush of a thicker mat, but you may enjoy a mat that is stickier, depending on your carpet, to ensure minimal slipping.
If you're practicing in a class setting and you want to bring your own mats, you'll likely want one that is light and easy to carry, like a rubber or jute mat. If you're practicing in a Bikram class, cotton is a really great option because it is more likely to absorb your sweat.
When choosing a mat, always think about where you'll be practicing. It's all about location, location, location.
The standard length of a yoga mat is 68" while the standard width of a yoga mat is 24". While it's more difficult to find mats that differentiate in width, there is some wiggle room on the market for all the taller yogis out there! Here's the breakdown of what the standard lengths look like when translated to height.
A good rule of thumb when deciding on a yoga mat length is to shoot for a mat that is slightly taller than you are. In a yoga sequence, you're going to move around, reposition yourself, and change locations on your mat frequently. You're going to want enough space to move without worrying about your feet or hands coming off the mat.
I'm a taller woman, standing at 5' 9" and I like to work with a mat that is 72" long because it gives me enough space to move without worrying about my limbs flopping off the mat.
One of the cool things about yoga is how versatile it is and how many things are on the market meant to help you make the most of your practice. Here are a few accessories that will help you take advantage of your practice!
- Yoga towels - Yoga towels are a great addition to a practice if you are prone to sweating or if you're attending a Bikram class. They can either be laid on top of your mat or kept to the side.
- Yoga blocks - Yoga blocks are great if you're new to yoga and require a little more support in your poses. They can be tucked beneath hips, legs, arms, and posteriors to offer added support to your practice.
- Yoga straps - Straps are a great way to help yogis work on their flexibility and motion, and are great for stretching legs! As a yogi with tight hamstrings, I use my straps to loosen those tight muscles and work into my hamstrings (affectionately dubbed "hammies").
- Yoga wheel - A yoga wheel is a great way to work into some deeper back poses, which can help to improve posture and ease back pain. They're also good for working into some standing twist poses!
Like most things in life, the price of one yoga mat to the next can be vastly different! You can find great mats for as little as $25 and mats for as high as a couple of hundred dollars.
When investing in anything in your life, make sure you sit down and determine how much you're going to spend. I've practiced on mats I've snagged from the discount bin that have been great! The standard price range for most mats on the market today is $20 - $100.
As the price of a yoga mat increases, so too do the guarantees, with more expensive mats promising a longer lifetime. If you're willing to drop more money on a mat, it'll likely last you a few years. Take some time to sit down and figure out how much you're willing to spend on a yoga mat. If you want to include different accessories into your practice, make sure to make adjustments accordingly!