Yoga mats that properly support your body and practice are essential to grow in yoga. Yoga mats prevent and decrease injuries that can be caused by slippery surfaces. Yoga mats are used by anyone practicing yoga to help them create a barrier between themselves and the floor.
Many students will let you borrow a mat to use during your classes, but I don’t recommend going this route. You don’t know for sure how clean a mat is until you clean it yourself. To keep your mat clean, there are a lot of yoga mat cleaning supplies on the market. (I make my own out of ACV, witch hazel, lavender, and tea tree oil)
To be considered a great yoga mat, it needs to be safe, durable, and comfortable. To be a perfect yoga mat it should also be environmentally friendly.
The right yoga mat will help you improve your balance and coordination and give you better stability and traction. I didn’t believe this until I switched from my flimsy Gaiam to my cushy Manduka. Yoga on the Manduka feels like yoga should feel: safe and secure.
If you care about the planet, selecting an eco yoga mat is a perfect choice as you down dog your way to enlightenment. There are some unknown brands getting their eco mats off the ground, but there are two brands that you can’t really go wrong with:
If you’re like me, then having an eco-friendly yoga mat is high priority. The Manduka Eko met my needs for an eco-friendly mat that was also durable, sturdy, and sticky.
One of the problems with eco-mats is that the materials used are meant to biodegrade. With extensive use, your mat might start to wear out. Manduka mats have a great reputation of not wearing out – even over the duration of years – which is why I chose Manduka. The Manduka Eko I use is a natural rubber mat, and it has a rather strong scent when you first open it up.
There are other mats on the market that have been known to wear out after a few months. PVC based yoga mats last forever, and literally take years to biodegrade.
You get a lot more variety in colour when you purchase a mat that’s a traditional PVC mat as opposed to an eco-friendly mat. Gaiam offers a wide variety of colours and designs, while the material is the same. You should be able to find a mat that suits your personality.
Traditional yoga mats can be purchased for as little as $20, and you can even get one at Walmart or KMart. This might be the best route to go if you’re a yoga newbie and you’re unsure you want to stick with the practice.
When I started yoga I purchased a cheap mat from Walmart because I didn’t know if I would like it. It was only after a steady and consistent practice (that wasn’t being properly supported by the PVC mat) I upgraded to my Manduka.
If something more natural is up your alley, you can get a yoga mat made out of cotton. A 100% cotton yoga mat may be best if you have allergic reactions to other materials.
100% cotton yoga mats are actually called yoga rugs, and they do have a bit of slippage that can be dangerous. Yoga rugs are best for those who do a slow restorative yoga, or yin yoga, instead of a lot of flows.
What kind of yoga mat do you prefer? Let me know in the comments.
Photo by Manduka