It may seem simple enough- just a flat rolled-up rectangle that we use to keep ourselves off the ground as we exercise- right? Nothing more, nothing less. It’s worth noting that yoga mats (despite the name) can be used for many other activities besides yoga, as they provide cushioning and safety to any activity. Yet there is nothing more frustrating than purchasing an item and realising it doesn’t do the job once it’s at your door. It feels like a wasted investment and can end up collecting dust in a dark corner of our homes- which none of us want.
To avoid this, Bamae has made a list of all the areas you might want to consider before you commit to your choice, so you can feel confident in your decision from start to finish.
Some of these questions you should be asking yourself are- what kind of area will you be using it? Is the floor hard or not? How much protection and cushioning will you need to compensate for?
Thicker mats are a good choice for those of us that plan to work out on harder floors, because of the extra cushioning. If you would prefer to have more support for your wrists and knees, then a thicker mat might be the right choice. The main downside to thicker mats is that they are on the bulkier side, and so can be harder to carry if you plan on taking them with you on a journey. If you can work with more difficult manoeuvrability to when you travel then this is a pretty good choice, but it’s worth considering if you want to take your mat to classes in other places.
Thinner mats are much easier to carry and often cheaper but are also more likely to become damaged over time. It’s normal to move your mat from place to place, which puts it at risk of wear and tear. Plus frequent use will do that- there are pros and cons to both options, so it’s worth figuring out for yourself exactly where and when you plan on practicing yoga, so you can decide what areas you would like to prioritise.
Emphasising the grip of your yoga mat is about safety more than anything. Grippier materials will give you that extra bit of friction to avoid your mat slipping from under your feet as you move. Mats that consist of PVC or natural rubber are a good bet to avoid this, as they tend to be the best for grip. This or mats that have a textured surface are also an effective option to help prevent sliding around.
If you plan on practicing yoga on floors that already have a bit of resistance (and don’t plan on doing so anywhere else) then you might be able to save yourself a bit of money by skipping out on extra grip. So long as you have a way to keep your mat nice and still as you work through your routines, then you should be good to go.
The core aim of a yoga mat is to keep you safe and comfortable as you exercise, and the length of the mat you choose can influence your comfort levels substantially. It’s important to consider your height when purchasing a mat, as you don’t want your head or feet to fall off the edge when you lay on it. When choosing a mat, try to make sure that it’s a few inches taller than you just to give yourself that extra space. Remember that you will be moving around a lot, so the more space you have to do this the better. Wider than typical mats may cost a little extra, but it’s an investment that can save you a world of stress.
We are slowly moving towards a greener use of our resources, and because it’s becoming more fashionable to be resourceful. This has led to a new focus on environmentally friendly alternatives. PVC tends to be the most common material seen in mats, but there have been some more natural resources alternatives such as cork and recycled materials. These may be a little on the dearer side because of the effort put in to make them, but it’s a pretty good cause to get behind.
If you decide you no longer have a use for your mat, Bamae has created a list of ways to reuse it rather than just throwing it away, so you can feel resourceful and healthy all at once.
The prices of yoga mats really do vary a whole lot. You can buy cheaper and thinner mats for £10 or quickly jump up to ten times that amount. This can be for a myriad of reasons, some fair and some not. In the same vein, how much you are willing to spend and why is also a personal choice.
Cheaper options may be a good first choice if you are trying yoga out and are not too sure if it’s something you want to keep doing in the long term, whereas the thicker yoga mats with extra features of eco-friendly materials may be a little dearer, but all for good reason. These options may cost a little more, but they can be worth the extra pennies for better safety and comfort.
If you plan on keeping up with yoga for the foreseeable future, then don’t shy away from investing in the things that matter to you. If you really enjoy yoga and can envision it becoming a big part of your life, you can invest in a higher quality mat at a later date and get the best of both worlds.