Choosing A Yoga Mat

An important step for a new yoga student to make is buying their first yoga mat and it’s also an equally important decision for someone who has been practicing yoga for a while and is ready for a new mat. There are plenty of different brands and types of mat and all of them boast their own benefits so before you choose a mat be sure to be informed about not only that type of mat but of the company making it and the processes they use.

It’s also a good idea to be aware of what you need from your yoga mat. How often are you practicing yoga? Every day or just once a month? Is it important to you that your mat be environmentally friendly? How do you want your mat to look, feel, and - most importantly - smell? Do you have a lot of money to spend on a mat or is your budget a little tighter?

Answering these questions can help you get a good understanding of what you require out of a yoga mat and what you have to work with in terms of money which can help you make the best choice of mats for you and your purposes.

The most common mats are the kind made of synthetic materials that are available at most fitness center and studios for ten to twenty dollars. These mats are pretty durable but some yoga students complain that they smell like chemicals and that they don’t have enough padding to them. They aren’t environmentally friendly but they’re definitely budget conscious.

Many yogis that have concerns about the environment choose to go with a cork or jute mat which is made from recyclable materials and is much better for the earth. These mats however tend to be more expensive and less durable than a synthetic mat. They’re also a bit more difficult to keep clean and because they’re made of more natural materials they tend to absorb smells pretty easily which can get pretty gross.

You can also buy rubber mats that are either made of natural rubber or a synthetically produced rubber. These are often pretty durable and don’t have any odd smells but they can be a bit more pricey than a synthetic mat would be -you also need to watch out for any latex allergies as these mats can aggravate them.

If you’re feeling brave you can also go with no mat at all. There are companies that make yoga “socks” or “shoes” that can be worn in the studio to help prevent your feet from slipping. If your yoga practice is outside you probably don’t even need a mat in the first place and could just wear some yoga shoes to protect your feet.

However, the idea of going with no mat is not akin to using the communal mats that are provided by studios or fitness centers. This is something I strongly strongly advise against. The mats at studios for general use are a breeding ground for bacteria and germs and are more often than not left without cleaning. Even if you do wipe down these mats very effectively you still run the risk of catching something and on top of that the quality of the mats kept at studios is typically not very high. Save yourself the trouble of worrying about what’s on the mat or floor you’re practicing on and choose a good mat   that will work for you.