To some, the best yoga mat remains elusive. Even those who have been doing yoga for a long time still find it difficult to shop for a yoga mat. If you're in the market for a new mat, do not rush into things. Consider your yoga mat a long-term investment. Read on to make sure you invest in a winner.
Yoga and Yoga Mats Go Together
Yoga is one of those physical fitness systems where you don't use a lot of equipment - just your yoga mat. And as your only equipment, your mat becomes as important as the poses you will be doing. A good mat will be your cushioning when doing yoga on a hard floor surface. Though there are yoga mats for rent in gyms, it is still best to get a mat that will cater specifically to your needs.
Your Initial Yoga Mat Checklist
There are definitely a lot of things to consider when buying a yoga mat. If you're in search for the "best" yoga mat, it can only be found by considering your own needs and specifications. One of the things you need to ask yourself is where you're going to use the mat. Will you just be leaving the yoga mat at home or will you need to lug it from home to the gym and back? This will help you decide on the weight of your yoga mat. After that, you will then need to consider your own height and weight. These will allow you to choose the right size and material for your yoga mat.
The Right Size
Size matters so much when buying a yoga mat that it may well be one of the first things you need to consider. Average mats measure 24 inches wide and 68 inches long. This may not suffice for taller individuals and individuals with longer arms. Taller yogis will definitely have to consider getting a mat that's proportionate to their height. As for people with long arms, yoga mats can go as wide as 30 inches.
The Right Material
Yoga is an exercise that allows deeper concentration and overall mind-body wellness. Because of this, it is recommended that you use a yoga mat that is environmentally-safe. Even if you're not big on the eco-friendly plight, having a mat that's biodegradable certainly can't hurt you in any way. So which material is your best bet for your next yoga mat? Go with organic natural latex. Environmentally-safe, organic natural latex also provides the right cushion and durability.
The Right Quality
Sometimes it can be tempting to forget all other aspects of a yoga mat like weight, texture and durability in exchange for one that's super comfortable. After all, some of those yoga poses can be extreme and poke at your bones in an awkward way. Though comfort is an important aspect, it's best balanced with all other aspects already mentioned.
The right weight can be associated with your usage locations. The top-of-the-line mats can weigh as much as 8 to 10 pounds and may not be perfect for your yoga sessions at the gym. Lighter yoga mats, on the other hand, may have shorter lives.
The texture of a yoga mat is also important as it is related to moisture absorption and traction. The type of yoga mat with "closed cells" may have the most traction but it does not allow your mat to "breathe". This means that moisture is not able to pass through and invites bacterial growth. So when looking for a mat, look for a mat that is very porous but still has a layer that can add traction.
Now the last (but not the least) thing in your yoga mat trick box is durability. If you have the luxury, try to test drive a yoga mat before purchasing. There are some mats that 'deform' as you push against gravity. This is not necessarily a bad thing if the mat pops back into shape immediately but can be a problem if it does not.
The Right Price
So just how much should you pay for a yoga mat? If you're just starting out, it may be tempting to buy the cheapest one out there. However, cheap yoga mats usually mean lower quality and that leads to the mat breaking down after only a few uses. So if you're into yoga for the long haul, buying a cheaper mat eventually leads to spending more. Though there is no "right price" for everyone, as each yogi will have different needs, it is safe to say that the more expensive ones will definitely be the safer bets. The lowest you can go for a typical in-home mat and even gym mat is $40. The price can go as high as $80 to $100.
As far as the perfect mat is concerned, the perfect mat will depend on the individual yogi. So if you're shopping for a new mat, weigh all the aspects mentioned above, check which one is your priority and balance everything to 'form' your idea of the best yoga mat for your needs.