When it comes to your yoga practice, there’s no better tool for advancement than listening to what your body is telling you. Your choice of environment, however, can also play a significant beneficial role. Choosing the right yoga mat may be vital to your continued training.
Key Yoga Mat Characteristics
There are thousands of online reviews claiming that one mat or another is supreme. These yogis’ good intentions aside, it’s not always easy to cut through personal biases and come to your own informed conclusions. Here are some of the distinguishing factors that you might want to seek out in a mat.
Material and Durability
Do you view yoga as a holistic way of life instead of just another form of physical exercise? If so, then you might want to try a mat made from sustainable, environmentally sound materials. Options like natural rubber, cork, and even woven grass help spread the benefits of your practice far beyond your studio.
Many natural materials wear out faster than synthetic alternatives, like PVC, EVA and NBR. Nonetheless, you can dispose of them guilt-free because they don’t contribute to non-biodegradable landfill mass.
It’s also worth considering that synthetic polymer compounds are known for off-gassing, or releasing volatile components into the atmosphere. Although it’s easy to get over the slight odor, you may prefer keeping the air in your personal studio space as clean as possible.
Grip and Texture
Grip is an essential component of any yoga mat. As you sweat, things tend to get slippery. Whether you’re performing asanas while balanced on flat feet, your hands or your head, decent traction helps you maintain stability and avoid injuries. In addition to finding a mat that you won’t slide around on, it’s smart to pick something that won’t shift around on the floor beneath you.
Mat manufacturers impart their products with grip in various ways. Certain materials are naturally sticky, like cork that becomes easier to grasp when it’s moist. Others, like synthetics, require raised textures and ridges that keep them from becoming slick.
Traction is of particular importance when you’re trying to hold challenging poses. Remember, however, that there’s such a thing as too tacky. It’s harder to transition through vinyasas and jump-back maneuvers when you get stuck to the mat every time you stay in one place for more than a few seconds.
Padding and Comfort
Unless you only practice in idyllic grassy pastures or on pristine sandy beaches, you’ll want a mat with some give. Everyone has unique preferences regarding yoga mat feel, but there are undeniable advantages to cushion.
Mats with heightened elasticity ease stress forces on your joints and bones. These options can make it much easier to sustain poses for longer periods.
On the other hand, it may take some getting used to the feeling of sinking into your mat when you put weight on it. Most people, however, find that the lack of pain is worth the minor adjustment. Together with traction, comfortable padding is one of the top two characteristics that experienced practitioners want from their mats.
Sanitation and Cleaning
As rewarding as it is, yoga is sweaty work. Depending on your studio’s cleanliness, your mat may also attract dust and debris. It’s easier to enjoy your calming yoga sessions when you don’t have to do a lot of cleanup work afterward. Not all mats cater to this reality.
Cleaning your mat on a regular basis prevents it from cultivating bacteria and acquiring the accompanying mildewy scent. You can pick mats with innate antimicrobial properties, such as those exhibited by some kinds of cork and synthetic materials, but you’ll probably still want to clean them.
A thicker yoga mat might feel better, but it could also be a few pounds heavier. Most manufacturers let you know how much their mats weigh. Take a look at this part of the product description before buying something that you’ll lug across the city to your favorite studio spot. Also, consider whether the mat comes with a convenient carrying bag that includes a comfy strap.
Mats are anything but one-size-fits-all. Taller people should always be certain to check the dimensions of any product before they buy. A mat isn’t worth much if your feet or hands land outside its boundaries whenever you do your favorite asanas, so don’t forget to size properly.
Which Mat Is Right for Your Yogic Pursuits?
If you’ve never owned a mat before, then try aiming for an accessible middle-of-the-road solution. You can also see what the experts say — A team at http://reviews.com/conducted an in-depth review of yoga mats! You can read their in-depth review here: http://www.reviews.com/best-
Like yoga itself, choosing a mat is a personal experience. Your take on these factors may evolve with your experience and the regularity of your practice. Some people are more concerned with price than anything, while others prefer durable stability at any expense. Regardless which option you pick, focus on finding something that complements your yoga practice instead of detracting from it or distracting you along the way.