A yoga mat is an essential piece of equipment for any yoga enthusiast and it is imperative that you take the time to choose the correct yoga mat for you. Even if you are not a big yoga enthusiast, it is always a good idea to have a yoga mat for stretching and other post-workout recovery exercises. A yoga mat is what is separating your body from whatever surface you are on and can make a big difference on your yoga or stretching experience. Contrary to what many people may think, yoga mats are not one size fits all and there are a variety of factors that can influence your decision on what yoga mat to buy.
One of the most important factors to consider when purchasing a new yoga mat is the thickness of the mat. Most of the time, your yoga mat is the only thing that is separating you from the surface below and the thickness of your yoga mat can be a significant factor in the overall comfort and enjoyment of your yoga experience. Most yoga mats are about 1/8 inch thick and that thickness works for most people. However, if you are a particularly boney individual, then it may be in your best interest to get a mat that is a little bit thicker, around 1/4 inch. If you have sensitive joints, then a thicker mat would also be a better choice. It is important to note that a thicker yoga mat will make it more difficult to balance in certain yoga poses so if you are comfortable on a standard yoga mat, there is no reason to choose a thicker mat.
The texture of the yoga mat is another very important factor to consider when purchasing a yoga mat. Smooth yoga mats can be a very good choice if you choose right as smooth yoga mats can give you that sticky feel that can give you very good traction during your yoga or stretching routine. However, if you are going to buy a smooth mat it has to be high quality otherwise you will be sliding around, which can be dangerous. I would advise to steer clear of smooth PVC yoga mats as they are normally too slippery. Especially if you find yourself sweating a lot, I would recommend a mat made out of natural rubber as rubber does not absorb sweat like many textured mats do. Mats with a textured pattern naturally have more grip than mats that do not have any texture. Your choice ultimately comes down to what you are comfortable with and the types of yoga or other exercises you may be using the mat for.
The length of your yoga mat is also very important and one good way to test if the length of your mat is sufficient is to see if your entire body fits on the mat when lying face down. If your entire body does not fit on the mat, then the temperature difference between the part of your body on the mat and the part of your body on the floor may make it significantly harder to relax. Most yoga mats are around 68 inches long, so if you are taller than that make sure to purchase an extra long mat.
Many yoga mats are made out of PVC material, which may last you a little bit longer, but are not very environmentally friendly. You may want to consider jute, natural or recycled rubber when looking for a new mat and you definitely want to make sure that no toxic substances were used in the making of your yoga mat. These details are normally given by the manufacturer, so make sure to check everything before you buy!
With so many different styles of yoga mats to choose from, why not choose one that fits your style? By choosing a yoga mat of a color or style that you really like, it can actually motivate you to practice more. Every time you unroll your yoga mat that matches your style, you will be more relaxed and more focused, which can only lead to a more enjoyable experience.
Whatever your specific needs or preferences, by following the general guidelines of these suggestions you will be able to find the perfect yoga mat for you!