Over the past few months I have engaged my students in trying different yoga mats to get their input and preferences. With the generous assortment of mats provided by YogaOutlet.com, we tested mats from various manufacturers such as Jade, Manduka, Sol (by Gaiam), Gaiam, and La Vie Boheme. There were 3 travel mats, a heavy-duty practice mat, and the other a more fashionable mat still worthy for serious practice. I even tested one of the mats in the middle of a busy road (which I will explain later!) The truth is, a lot boils down to personal preference and need.
There are many excellent yoga mats to choose from. The question of which yoga mat is best for you depends on what you are looking for. What are your priorities? Do you need a light mat for travel? Are you concerned about your mat being ecofriendly? Do you need extra padding to support joints? Are you concerned with the cost? Do you keep things a long time, and want to do the same with your mat? Do you have allergies that play into your choice? Here are some things to consider when making a decision on which mat is right for you.
This is particularly important if you have allergies to rubber or latex, or if you are concerned about being eco-friendly. Many mats are made with rubber, which can contain latex and PVC (which may encapsulate non eco-friendly toxins.) Lightweight foam mats don’t provide the best support, and may not hold up very well. More dense mats provide firm cushioned support, which can be great for protection of joints.
Mats come in many different sizes and thickness. If you are a traveler and want a lighter weight mat, you may need to forgo the thicker mats. However, if you’re looking for support for your body and joints, thicker, sturdier mats can be a true blessing.
Slip Resistance (Stickiness)
Although 100% slip resistance isn’t possible, a mat that is really good at keeping you where you need to be is important. Rubber is the best non-slip material; however, rubber mats may contain latex, which can be hypo-allergenic. Latex mats can also be heavy.
Price and Longevity
Are you someone who likes to change things out with the season, or are you a forever kind of person that wants to love your mat until it falls to pieces? There is a wide range in prices, and many mat manufacturers claim their mats last for years. Some even guarantee them for a lifetime. Cost can range from $20 to $120 or more.
Some mats are more stylish than others. What is your style –classic, earthy, or trendy? Do you like color or more of a subtle palette? There are many great color choices in mats these days, so you can change your mat to match your wardrobe, the seasons, or your mood. Remember, you’ll be looking at that mat a lot, and you’ll want to choose one in a color that’s pleasing to you.
One of the best ways to find the mat that’s right for you is to ask your yoga instructor and fellow yogis. Someone with more yoga experience, or who has a similar weight and height, may be a good resource. Do your research; read online reviews or ask if you can borrow a mat from a teacher or classmate for a test “drive.” T0 check out the mats my students tested check out “How to Choose a Yoga Mat, Part 2: Five Mat Reviews“.