The right tools are essential to a successful and rewarding yoga practice. Yoga props and accessories can help you adjust yoga poses to your body’s needs. Start with the basics. Finding the right yoga mat is essential for all who practice yoga.
Helpful Tips for Yoga Mat Selection
Most mats are made with a type of plastic called PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, which keeps slippage at a minimum and tends to be the most affordable. Alas, PVC is also considered a toxic plastic that’s difficult to recycle. So for the environmentally conscious, go the green route and choose a material like recycled rubber, jute, cotton, or even bamboo.
The standard mat is 1/8 inches thick, offering support to the body, but still allowing the user to feel connected to the ground. Travel mats are usually about 1/16 inch thick, making them a suitcase’s best friend. For those who want some extra cushion a thicker mat — closer to 1/4 inch — may be the best bet.
A yoga mat is usually 68 inches long, though they do make super-stretched mats for the taller people or those who like a little more room for their practice.
A sticky yoga mat is key to prevent slipping during your practice. PVC mats are usually super sticky, and some are even made with a fabric-like surface on top and a patterned bottom to help hands. Many eco-friendly mats add a raised texture to keep sliding at a minimum, or are made with naturally slip-resistant rubber. A yoga mat’s texture will also determine how much slippage occurs. PVC mats are naturally softer, while other materials (like jute) have a roughness to them.
A no-frills, 1/8 inch thick PVC mat will often be cheapest option. The price tags increase when design, brand name, thickness, and eco-materials are part of the purchasing process. Just remember not to fall for the cheap stuff. Investing in a reliable mat is important so keep this in mind when making your purchasing decision.
Test it out
If still unsure what mat is best for the body, no need to splurge right away. Go the “measure twice, cut once” route and test out some high-quality mats at various studios or do some research before buying.
It may be worth investing in a no-slip towel that lays right on top of the mat. Mats that include straps and harnesses are also great to help make transportation a breeze. And definitely don’t forget to keep the mat clean, too. A good sign the mat needs a wipe-down is if it loses its stickiness or if your nose is not happy in child’s pose (aka the smell).
I hope you enjoyed this helpful tips for yoga mat selection. If you have others, please ad them in a comment.
Guest Author – Aseem Giri is the CEO of KharmaKhare, Inc. We discovered how to repurpose car tires into eco yoga mats. His prior experience includes private equity investing, investment banking and managing companies. His passion for yoga was sparked recently and it gets fed every time he steps on a mat. His ambition is to be fluent in Ashtanga and the man at the center of a five-person AcroYoga pose.