when shopping for yoga mat you need to take these things into consideration before you choose which yoga mat you need to buy
The differences in material compositions may seem subtle at first, but they are impactful on the way you practice yoga. The yoga mat is your sanctuary and domain, and you need to feel balanced and at peace when you practice. Consider each of these options thoroughly before you seek out one particular type of material:
- PVC: Most entry-level mats are made of polyvinyl chloride, aka PVC. This material offers good durability, stickiness, and comfort. Despite its proven performance as a yoga mat material, PVC has received criticism for not being environmentally friendly.
- Foam: Essentially the eco-friendly version of PVC mats, foam yoga mats offer the same performance characteristics, but without the harmful environmental side effects. The only caveat is that mats made of foam contain latex which can be problematic for some yogis with allergies.
- Rubber: Another popular choice among eco-friendly yoga mats, a rubber yoga mat is a solid alternative to a PVC mat. Like foam yoga mats, rubber mats contains latex. Those with allergies should look elsewhere.
- Cotton: Sometimes called “traditional yoga mats,” cotton yoga mats are thin and eco-friendly. They’re also commonly used on top of other yoga mats to provide the support cotton alone doesn’t offer. Cotton absorbs sweat well and actually increases grip when wet.
- Jute: Similar to cotton yoga mats, jute offers the same sustainability and resiliency as cotton yoga mats. Like cotton mats, jute yoga mats are normally used over another yoga mat to get excellent traction and superior support. However, jute is a more fibrous material which is a bit rougher than cotton and absorbs less moisture.
Yoga Mat Thickness
While there are only three main mat thicknesses, the differences among the three are quite significant. If a yoga mat is too thin, certain poses may be hard on your knees and joints. If a mat is too thick, it will be difficult to maintain your balance and hold a pose. Take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of each thickness:
- 1/4″ thickness: Generally, the thickest a mat will be is 1/4″. Higher-end, premium mats will typically be 1/4″ thick to offer the best comfort and support. With more cushioning, however, the added mass will make the mat less portable and tougher to fit in standard yoga bags.
- 1/8″ thickness: This is the most commonly used thickness and it’s a perfect combination of performance and portability. If you practice often, you should look into 1/8″ mats because they provide enough cushioning for your knees, but are light and thin enough to carry to and from the studio every day.
- 1/16″ thickness: If you’re constantly on-the-go, you should look to 1/16″ mats as the ultra-portable solution. Half as thick as a standard mat, 1/16″ yoga mats will fit in any yoga mat bag with room to spare. Aside from portability, thin mats like these allow you to get a better feel of the floor. This is definitely an excellent option if you prefer the natural feel of touching the ground.
A standard mat is 24″ x 68″, but the length can sometimes vary (the width will almost always remain 24″). 72″ and 74″ are typical alternative lengths, but some yoga mats are as long as 84″. While most yogis will fit on a standard-sized mat, taller yogis will need to experiment a little. Start off by trying to do a downward-facing dog pose on a standard yoga mat. As long as your hands and feet are securely on the mat, then the length is sufficient.