Picking out your first—or next—yoga mat shouldn’t be something you do without guidance. They aren’t all the same, and there are a few key traits that all yogis should consider before laying down the cash for a mat.
Obviously, there’s the matter of color and design, but what about length, width, grip, material, and thickness? There’s more to think about than it appears but, luckily, we’ve got a handy list ready for you to dive into before you make your next mat purchase.
1. Length. Yoga participants come in all shapes and sizes, so you need to find the mat that works for you. If you are taller than average, consider an extra long mat so you can keep your fingers and toes in place during all those downward dogs. If you’re short, you don’t need to haul around a mat twice your size. A typical yoga mat is 68 inches long and 24 inches wide, but you can get them custom made. Either way, you’ll be able to sling it over your shoulder with a yoga mat sling harness for effortless transport.
2. Thickness. Go to any yoga class and you’ll see all thicknesses, but you need to find what works for you. The thicker the mat, the more cushy and comfortable it will be. You want a thickness that minimizes that pressure in your knees when they are grinding into the floor for poses. However, don’t get a mat so thick that it’s hard to balance a headstand! Pilates mats are reportedly thicker than yoga mats so make sure to buy the right one.
3. Material. These days, yoga mats come in a variety of materials, but a typical mat is made of vinyl. That’s generally a good option though recycled rubber or cotton mats are also available. However, the mat’s material determines the “stickiness” of the mat, which is a very important trait. You need the stickiness to hold poses and not slip and slide from sweat. It’s also good for staying secure while you carry it in a sling harness.
4. Texture. Some people prefer smooth mats while others like a rougher texture to help you stick tricky poses. You’ll find both in yoga class and it’s really a personal preference. You can find completely smooth all the way up to very bumpy, but most mats are somewhere in between. Test a few at the store or read some reviews and figure what you think will help you find your dream yoga mat.
5. Color. Of course you can get a yoga mat in any color, but you might want to consider the effects certain colors can have on your concentration. What is your personality? What are your intentions when you practice yoga? You should take these questions into consideration when decided what color to use. You can find a guide for finding the best yoga mat color for you here.
Now that you know a little more about what to think about when purchasing a new yoga mat, you’re one step closer to finding your optimal practice. The great thing about mats is that they are portable, so whether you are heading to class after work, riding your bike, or just need to take it with you, yoga mat sling harnesses make it super easy.