How To Choose the Right Yoga Mat for Newbies

How To Choose the Right Yoga Mat for Newbies

A good yoga mat is crucial wherever you practice. Working on a rug, a slick towel, or an overly soft gym cushion might result in injury and dissatisfaction. Most studios and gyms provide mats for public use, but having your own can be a more sanitary option.

It can be difficult for a newbie to know what to search for in the ideal mat because not all mats are created equal. So be sure you know which one is best for you. This guide will help you in narrowing down what elements you are searching for in a mat.

Length

As a general rule, use a yoga mat that is at least six inches taller than you. The idea is to lay comfortably on your mat during savasana without leaving the mat. Try an extra long yoga mat if you’re taller (above 6 feet). If you have broad shoulders or prefer a bit more room, you might want to look at an extra-wide yoga mat.

Basic choosing advice: While mats can vary in size, a standard 180mm X 66mm (7 x 2.5 inches) size that fits the common body is available.

Thickness

Yoga mats come in a variety of thicknesses. How much or how little padding do you need to stay comfortable while holding a pose? There are numerous yoga mat thicknesses to consider, each with its own set of benefits and drawbacks.

1/16″ or 2mm Yoga Mats

These are the thinnest mats you’re likely to see your peers using. These mats, as “travel yoga mats”, fold effortlessly and are light in weight, making them ideal for packing in a suitcase. Lead them with you wherever the path may take you. Moreover, a thin yoga mat is around 1/16-inch thick and is great for practicing balance postures because it provides a strong connection to the floor. A thin mat has the disadvantage of providing less cushioning support for you.

However, the yoga mat is very thin. This is not for people who have achy knees. It has a lot of traction. Most traveling yogis will use this on carpet or earth, so it will not be their primary source of support.

1/8″ or 3mm Yoga Mats

While not as thick as a 1/4″ mat, these nonetheless provide adequate support and durability. A lightweight mat is easier to transport to and from courses. They also have the advantage of fitting in almost every yoga mat bag on the market.

With a thinner mat, there is the possibility of faster wear and tear. You may have to replace it sooner, but on the plus side, they are typically less expensive than 1/4 yoga mats.

1/4″or 6mm Yoga Mats

By far the most popular mats in the business. A big percentage of luxury yoga mats fall within the 1/4 inch range “thickness since it has been shown to be both sturdy and cushioning. Consider a premium yoga mat that’s around 1/4 inch thick if you don’t mind carrying and storing a bit more weight for the sake of more padding. A 1/4-inch thick yoga mat may be better for back support during core exercises, inversions, and other poses that require your bones to dig into the floor.

But these mats can be hefty at times, weighing up to nine pounds. Check out the 1/4 Extra Thick Deluxe Yoga Mat if you want to preserve the thickness but still be able to bring it with you on the road. They also come with a lifetime warranty.

1/2 “or 12mm Yoga Mats

This is the end of the story. The 1/2″ mat is the most cushioned on the market, making it ideal for pilates practice.

Because of the spongy padding, this mat is not suitable for yoga. Balance is difficult to achieve in standing poses such as Warrior or Tree Pose. It can also be rather large. Check out a few 1/4″ yoga mats if you want something with a cushion but not too much cushion.

Basic choosing advice: Consider how much space you have to store your yoga mat, how essential portability is to you, and where your sweet spot is for comfort versus feeling a direct connection to the floor. If you don’t have much storage space, have a long commute to the studio, and want the feel of just a little padding, use a standard-depth mat in the 1/8 inch range.

Material

The material of your yoga mat determines its texture, stickiness, eco-friendliness, and sponginess (how much it responds to pressure), as well as how it wears over time.

comparative table of the different materials to choose your yoga mat
Image courtesy of Amazon.com

PVC

It is a plastic-based substance that is extremely durable, easy to clean, and provides good floor traction. PVC mats, on the other hand, are non-absorbent and can become slippery when wet. PVC is latex-free, which is beneficial to persons who are allergic to latex; however, it is not biodegradable or environmentally friendly as other solutions.

TPE (thermoplastic elastomer)

This is a man-made polymer blend composed primarily of plastic and rubber monomers. TPE mats may be less harmful to the environment than PVC mats, and some are completely recyclable. TPE mats are less durable than PVC mats of the same thickness in general, but they still provide good traction.

Eco / natural mats

They are made from a range of materials such as natural rubber, organic cotton, and jute. Eco mats are slightly less sticky on the floor than other options, but their natural roughness provides traction for your body. Eco mats do not have the ten-year durability of PVC, but they are the best option if sustainability is a major consideration.

Basic choosing advice: If you are allergic to latex, avoid natural rubber yoga mats. If you prefer to continue with the tried-and-true sticky mat, go with a PVC yoga mat that can withstand your use and abuse for more than a decade. Sponginess varies greatly with different material blends, but on general, PVC has the most “give” of any yoga mat material, while jute and cotton have the least.

Texture

There is a yoga mat texture to suit every preference, from perfectly smooth to downright rough. Your yoga mat provides traction by its texture. Texture influences how much slipping and sliding you do. It acts as a physical barrier to slippage (whereas stickiness relies on suction). Because texture affects how a yoga mat feels, it is also a factor in overall comfort.

A sticky mat will keep you from slipping around in yoga class if you sweat a lot. If the rough texture bothers you, go for a smooth mat with a moisture control system. The jute yoga mats have an organic roughness to them, but PVC yoga mats, albeit slightly textured, have a gentler feel.

Basic choosing advice: If you want to avoid PVC mats (the classic sticky yoga mats), seek for a rubber, jute, or cotton yoga mat with a raised, tactile pattern. The raised texture provides the extra traction which might help you remain put no matter how sweaty or vigorous your practice becomes.

If you value smoothness above all else, a PVC yoga mat is the way to go. Even if they don’t have the conventional “sticky” sensation, certain eco-friendly yoga mats may surprise you with how much traction they provide.

Eco-Friendliness

As yogis, we value the principle of Ahimsa or nonviolence. That makes practicing on a yoga mat that will eventually end up filling a landfill for decades difficult.
Natural or recycled rubber is commonly used to make eco-friendly yoga mats. Natural materials, such as jute or organic cotton, may also be used in the manufacture of these yoga mats. A closed-cell mat will keep sweat from penetrating the surface, and an anti-microbial chemical will keep germs and mold at bay.

Basic choosing advice: If the environment is important to you, avoid yoga mats manufactured of PVC (the typical sticky mat), which does not degrade in landfills and is difficult and expensive to recycle.

While available in a variety of thicknesses, rubber, jute, and cotton yoga mats are thicker and slicker than PVC mats. You can get an eco-friendly yoga mat with a thickness that suits your demands for comfort and portability, as well as a texture (such as a raised geometric pattern) that resists sliding.

Style

Ashtanga Yoga Mat

This strenuous type of yoga necessitates the use of a sticky mat. Because of their open-cell structure, natural rubber and TPE yoga mats are recommended because they are slip-resistant even when wet. Many yogis utilize yoga towels for extra slide resistance during particularly strenuous lessons.

Hatha Yoga Mat

Hatha Yoga refers to a variety of classes that teach physical postures. Hatha yoga is typically geared toward introductory classes. We recommend that if you are just getting started, you practice on a foam mat until you have a good notion of the direction you want to go.

Vinyasa Yoga Mat

A variation on Hatha yoga with a few differences: Pace and Flow. Vinyasa propels you through asana after asana at a much faster speed. In this lesson, the flow is just as crucial as the final asana. We recommend a mat that is smooth but still has a lot of stick because of the movement. Consider a natural rubber travel mat. They have little substance yet nonetheless hold sweaty hands and feet.

Iyengar Yoga Mat

Iyengar begins and finishes with proper alignment. You will not raise your heart rate and, as a result, sweat as much as in other types. The importance of balance cannot be overstated. As a result, having a particularly sticky or cushiony mat isn’t as vital. We recommend utilizing 1/4″ mats that are very hard or 1/8″ mats that are thinner. Alignment mats are also quite beneficial for this activity.

Bikram/Hot Yoga

These two types of yoga are extremely similar. Each occurs in rooms that are heated to a temperature of 100 degrees or more. Expect to perspire profusely. As a result, we strongly advise using both a natural rubber yoga mat and a yoga mat towel. You should also bring a hand towel or two to wipe your hands between positions.

Restorative Yoga Mat

Restorative yoga is the gentlest of all yoga practices. It’s the same as exercising while sleeping. Yoga mats come in a plethora of styles that are distinguished by slow, sweeping positions. Do you wish to experience something genuinely opulent? Wrap yourself in comfortable warmth by using a cotton yoga mat.

Now, you can continue reading our guide for Cleaning Your Yoga Mat: How To and How Often

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