How do I choose the right yoga mat if I want to buy a yoga mat?
Yoga has grown strongly in recent years. More and more people are discovering that it is a great way to keep your body healthy, release stress, and live a clearer and more conscious life. A nice side effect is that you can practice yoga anywhere and anytime; you don't need expensive fitness equipment or a whole lot of equipment.
A yoga mat and comfortable yoga pants will suffice. Yoga clothing and mats are now available in many different shapes and sizes. And hopefully this article will help you choose the yoga mat that is best for you!
Why buy a yoga mat?
Yoga practitioners buy their own yoga mat for different reasons, but the most important is that you can practice with your own mat at home, although of course the hygiene also plays a part. The yoga mats in the yoga studio are used by everyone, and sometimes you notice that during class...
A good yoga mat makes all the difference for your yoga practice. A mat that for example is not rigid enough, or does not provide enough insulation will certainly distract during your exercises, undermining your security at postures where good grip is important, and in the long term can even undermine your motivation.
Traditionally, yoga is practiced on cotton woven mats, grass mats, tiger skins or just on the floor. With the rise of the use of plastics and rubber and with the spread of yoga in the west, around 1960 the first modern yoga mat was developed. This mat was stiffer (sticky) and gave more insulation and cushioning than an ordinary cotton mat.
Since then, the modern yoga mat has been constantly developed so that there is now a huge variety of yoga mats in all kinds of different materials, thicknesses, shapes and wear resistance. The main goal is still the same: provide a comfortable and clean surface with good grip and insulation so that you can practice yoga without slipping or getting cold.
Ok, what should I look for when I purchase a yoga mat?
If you are going to buy a yoga mat, of course you first want to know what to look out for. What are the differences between the various yoga mats and which yoga mat fits best with the style you practice.
The choice for a particular yoga mat depends on, among other things, the following aspects:
How much do you want to spend on a yoga mat?
What style of yoga do you practice? Do you need a soft or a slightly harder mat for this? Do you suffer quickly from your joints or a cold floor, or do you practice very often and intensively and do you want a yoga mat that gives you a lot of stability?
Is there a color that appeals to you more than any other? A mat that you like in terms of color and design can have a positive effect on your motivation to practice regularly.
How intensive is your yoga practice? Do you go to a quiet yoga class once a week, or do you spend an hour and a half working intensively on your mat?
Do you want to take your mat with you on the bike? Or does your yoga mat have to fit into your suitcase when you travel? Or do you always practice on the same permanent spot and is the weight of the mat not so important?
Is a standard mat enough for me or is it better for me to choose an extra long or wide yoga mat?
Is it important for me to pay attention to the type of material due to sensitivity to certain substances, for example rubber?
Do I want a yoga mat that is biodegradable?
Which type of yoga mat is the best one for me?
The biggest difference between the types of yoga mats is in the material that is used. This determines the durability, weight and comfort. If you want to know which mat suits you best, it is important to know what properties the different materials have.
Why is a PVC yoga mat the best choice?
PVC sticky yoga mats are one of the most commonly used yoga mats because they have a non-slip and sticky surface that prevents you from slipping. A sticky PVC yoga mat is the best choice for beginners and, because of the excellent price/quality ratio, also a great choice for people who don't want to spend too much money.
The mats are usually 4mm thick, which provides sufficient insulation, and at the same time good stability for e.g. balancing exercises. These mats weigh little, are both rollable and foldable (and therefore also fit in your suitcase). So you can also use them in other places, such as outside.
Some Love Generation yoga mats have a beautiful print, which of course only makes your yoga practice more fun and inspiring.
PVC mats are less suitable for very warm or intensive yoga styles, such as Ashtanga or Bikram. They can become a bit slippery due to too much perspiration. PVC mats have a dense cell structure and do not absorb moisture. If you perspire quickly during your practice, it is therefore advisable to place a cotton yoga mat or a yoga towel over the mat for extra grip.
They are also not very thick. People who quickly suffer from painful joints should choose a thicker mat.
Another drawback is the material. PVC, although made with care, is and remains a plastic made using chemicals. On the one hand, this makes the mat particularly durable, but it is not immediately the best option when you think of the environment and health.
Benefits of a sticky PVC yoga mat:
- Machine washable
- Very wear resistant
Why choose a thick yoga mat?
The thick Love Generation mats are actually the same as the PVC yoga mats described above, only they have a nice thickness of 6 mm. This gives more comfort and support, and also feels warmer on, for example, a cold floor.
This is the best yoga mat for more comfort when practicing. We also recommend this mat for quiet yoga styles where you do more lying exercises (for example Yin Yoga, Restorative, Hatha Yoga and mindfulness). Furthermore, this mat is especially recommended for the elderly and people with joint problems, because you will get pain less in your back, ankles, knees, etc. on a softer, thicker surface.
These mats are slightly heavier than the 4mm Love Yoga mats, but they are still easy to take with you on the bike. Washing in the washing machine is allowed, but is less recommended because the mat is actually too thick to spin properly. Scrubbing in the shower or cleaning with dettol is preferred.
A disadvantage of a thick yoga mat is the contact with the floor. The thickness of the yoga mat ensures that the surface is a lot softer. This can make the balance postures a little more challenging.
Benefits of an extra thick yoga mat:
- More comfort
- Gentle on joints
- Warm surface
- Easy to carry
A good eco yoga mat made of TPE
If you are looking for a good mat that is also ecologically responsible, then you will quickly end up with a TPE yoga mat. Yoga mats are getting better, also for the environment. TPE is an abbreviation of Thermo Plastic Elastomer, also called Thermo Plastic Rubber. This material is basically a synthetic rubber. TPE yoga mats are biodegradable and are made without toxic substances. That is why they are allowed to wear the Eko Quality Mark.
TPE yoga mats are remarkably soft and elastic compared to a PVC yoga mat. The surface is super rough. The material has an open cell structure, so you will slide less quickly during a sweaty yoga class. The mat has a more neutral odor than a rubber yoga mat, and is well suited for people with a latex allergy. Due to the softness, optimal grip and extra thickness, this mat is extra nice for quiet yoga styles and combinations such as first Vinyasa Flow and then Yin Yoga.
The disadvantage of this mat is that it is more vulnerable than a PVC yoga mat. For example, it is better not to leave the mat in the sun for a long time or to throw it in the washing machine. The mat will also wear out faster with very intensive use (for example, an intensive Ashtanga practice for an hour and a half every day).
Benefits of an eco TPE yoga mat:
- Ecologically responsible
- Very good grip
- Feels soft and elastic
What is the best rubber yoga mat?
Natural rubber yoga mats are available in many different thicknesses and colors, and provide a remarkably good grip. Rubber yoga mats contain no toxic substances and are completely biodegradable. The rubber for these mats is also consciously and carefully harvested, so it does not come from the Amazon, for example.
The top layer of the rubber eKO mats from Manduka has a textile layer that ensures that the mat does not crumble. That makes the grip even better, and the mat becomes extra wear-resistant.
A disadvantage of the eKO yoga mats is the strong rubber smell. This will go off on its own after a while, but there are quite a few people who do not opt for a rubber yoga mat because of the smell. Even if you are allergic to latex, rubber is not the best choice.
In addition, rubber yoga mats are relatively heavy. The super-light eKO SuperLite Travel mat is so thin that you won't notice it, but an eKO Lite yoga mat of 4 mm, for example, can easily be over a kilo heavier than an equally thick PVC yoga mat.
Furthermore, rubber can sometimes fade in color and also wear out faster due to exposure to direct sunlight. These mats should therefore be treated with a little more love.
Benefits of a rubber yoga mat:
- Good grip
- Ecologically produced
- Durable and wear-resistant
- Protective textile layer
Which yoga mat do teachers and advanced students choose?
As you stand on the mat more often, your wishes that a good yoga mat must meet will also change. What wishes are those? We hear from intensive practitioners and yoga teachers that they mainly choose their mat based on durability and grip. That is why they choose Premium yoga mats.
The most important thing is that the material of the professional sports mats is more solid in structure. That makes them a lot heavier, but also even stronger and more durable.
It's not for nothing that Manduka gives a lifetime warranty on their PRO series mats! Manduka regularly changes their always inspiring color collection and all their mats are available in different thicknesses (PROlite 4.5mm and PRO 6mm). Extra long mats are also available in the PRO series.
The Liforme sports mats are also recommended if you practice yoga regularly, several times a week. That is why you are looking for a mat that you will enjoy for years and that will not wear out, even during the most intensive yoga practice. Many yoga teachers therefore choose this mat.
Benefits of a professional yoga mat:
- Optimal grip
- Socially responsible A-brands
- Very durable and wear resistant
- Lifetime warranty (with Manduka)
Traditional Cotton Yoga Mat - Yoga Rug
Traditionally, yoga is practiced on a yoga mat woven from cotton. Especially if you perspire a little during your practice, a cotton mat gives good grip, because it absorbs your sweat.
Cotton yoga mats are made of a natural material and therefore also 100% biodegradable. They are easily washable (at low temperatures). Especially during warm and intensive yoga classes such as Bikram yoga, Hot Yoga, Power yoga or Ashtanga you see more and more people opting for a cotton mat.
The disadvantage of this yoga mat is that the cotton fibers wear out sooner than rubber, TPE or PVC. The mats are a bit thinner than most yoga mats, so they can sometimes be placed over a standard yoga mat, or used on a carpet. On a cold or slippery surface you otherwise run the risk that you will suffer from the cold or that the mat will slide.
Benefits of a cotton yoga mat:
- Absorb perspiration well
- Keep a grip with perspiration
- High temperature washable
What is a good yoga mat for travel?
If you regularly travel or go on a yoga holiday, it is nice to have a mat that does not take up too much space in your luggage. There are nice travel yoga mats available that are lightweight and that you can also take with you when folded, if rolling up does not fit.
These mats are usually very thin. If you would like a little more comfort, or are looking for a mat that you can also use for the longer term, consider a yoga towel that you can use over a borrowed yoga mat on site.
Benefits of a travel yoga mat:
- Rollable and foldable
- Good contact with the floor
In addition to travel yoga mats, there are also very nice yoga bags available for your trip.
Do I need a non-slip Yoga Towel?
A yoga towel is the ideal solution for anyone who slips on their yoga mat due to perspiration. The towel offers a thin hygienic layer between your yoga mat (yours or from the studio) and your body. Yoga towels absorb the perspiration and become very stiff; slipping is therefore a thing of the past.
The towels are made of (usually recycled) microfibre, which is naturally a bit stiff. As a result, the towel always stays in place. In addition, the yoga towel provides a protective layer over your yoga mat. As a result, your mat will wear out significantly less quickly.
The towels are easy to wash and dry, so you always practice on a clean and fresh surface. The towels are very lightweight, can be folded up small and can also be used as a bath, sports or beach towel. Ideal for on the go.
The disadvantage of yoga towels is that they are very thin and that you always have to put something under them. That can be a yoga mat, but a thick carpet, for example, is also an excellent surface.
Need help choosing the best yoga mat?
As you may have noticed, there are quite a few different mats to choose from, and we hope that it has helped you choose the yoga mat that best suits your needs, yoga style and budget.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to send us an e-mail. We like to think along with you to find the yoga mat that is perfect for you :-)