Yoga mats run the gamut from bargain basement to deluxe models. Your choice is a matter of personal preference, but here are a few first considerations to keep in mind.
The cheapest entry-level mats are made from PVC and are widely available, but if an eco-friendly option is important to you, seek out mats made from rubber, foam, cotton, or jute.
Yoga mats typically come in one of three thicknesses. The most common is the 1/8" mat, which offers a combination of cushion and portability. Mats that are 1/16” are great for travel but can be hard for sensitive knees in kneeling postures. Mats that are 1/4" offer the most comfort but come with a price tag on the higher end of the spectrum; they’re also bigger and heavier to haul around.
A slippery yoga mat is about as good as running sneakers with holes in them—no fun! PVC and foam mats have the most stickiness, but only when clean and dry. If your hands and feet get sweaty or you love a hot Vinyasa class, the natural texture of cotton and jute can help with stickiness. Some people also lay a yoga towel over their mat to help them stay put. Rubber has a moderate amount of stickiness.
The best mat for you, whether you’re a beginner yogi or not, depends on your needs. So while we’d love to provide a list of easy answers, we think this personal choice is best made by asking yourself several questions:Will you be traveling frequently with your yoga mat?
Consider thinner mats designed for travel that roll or fold up into a compact size and can be easily packed in carry-ons.Do you plan to frequently practice outdoors?
If so, you might want to look for a mat designed for durability.Is hot yoga a regular part of your practice?
Look for a mat with extra grip. You might also want to use a yoga towel, too.Do you need extra length or cushion?
Tall practitioners might be most comfortable with a mat longer than the standard 68-inches. Likewise, if you have tender knees, something on the thicker side may be more comfy for you.What’s your budget?
If money is no option, there are plenty of Cadillac choices out there. But if, on the other hand, you’re just dipping your toe into asana and don’t want to shoulder a heavy investment, the $10 mats available at chain discount stores will serve your purposes just fine.
Once you’ve considered your needs, check out a few curated lists of recommended mats; we trust the impartial and well-researched reviews and recommendations at The New York Times Wirecutter and CNET. For filming at Yoga Anytime, we use the manduka pro yoga mat, which was originally created by a teacher on Yoga Anytime, Peter Sterios.
There are also a few things you can do to help ensure the longevity of your mat.
keeping your mat clean will help extend its life. Each time you practice, give your mat a quick spritz with an all-natural, antibacterial solution, like Puracy Organic Lemongrass Natural Multi Surface Cleaner ($5.99), then wipe clean and dry. You can also buy pre-saturated antibacterial wipes, like EO Lavender Hand Sanitizing Wipes ($25.99) or Herban Essentials Yoga Towelettes ($16.99). More of the DIY type? Whip up your own spray with this simple recipe of water, vinegar, and essential oils
Every couple of months, you might want to run your yoga mat through the washing machine. Wash it on its own (without other clothes), with a small amount of gentle detergent on the delicates cycle with cool water. Don’t run your mat through the spin cycle. To dry, roll your mat up with a towel, squeeze out excess water, and then line or hang dry overnight.
If you have room at home, your yoga mat is best stored flat, either hanging from a rack or rolled out in an out-of-the-way corner of your house dedicated to your practice. But if you’re pressed for space at home, it’s just fine to keep your mat rolled up and tucked away. Consider corralling it in a pretty woven basket along with other go-to yoga props, such as a strap, blanket, and blocks.
Remember the practice of yoga is designed to enrich your life—not weigh it down with stressful logistics. So don’t get too bogged down about which mat to buy. The most important thing when it comes to choosing a yoga mat is simply to have one. That way, nothing stands in the way of you and a practice that can bring your life more calm and clarity.
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