Tips on Choosing the Best Yoga Mat

Choosing a yoga mat may sound simple, but with so many varieties of yoga mats on the market, yoga students, especially beginners would benefit from a little knowledge of the different styles of yoga mats available. Of all the yoga accessories out there a yoga mat is probably the most important. A yoga mat should be durable, comfortable and offer the correct amount of support to avoid injury. Here are some other important features you should know about when choosing a yoga mat

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Yoga Mat

  • Thickness of mat: Generally, a yoga mat should not be thinner than 4mm, and some people prefer an even thicker mat for comfort and to cushion and protect their joints.
  • Size: a taller person would likely do better with a larger yoga mat
  • Type of yoga being practiced: A durable, non-slippery yoga mat would be ideal for a vigorous yoga practice, such as Ashtanga yoga; however, a basic sticky mat is more appropriate for a Hatha-style yoga practice.

Types of Yoga Mats

The following is a list of the different varieties of yoga mats available on the market as well as their benefits and potential drawbacks.

  • Sticky Yoga Mats
The sticky mat is probably the most familiar type of yoga mat for most people. It is basic, readily available and inexpensive. The sticky yoga mat would be a good choice for a beginner or someone who does not practice yoga on a regular, extensive basis.
Sticky mats are not necessarily the best choice of a yoga mat when it comes to the environment or your health, however. These mats contain PVC (polyvinyl chloride), an environmental toxin. Other ingredients of sticky mats often include lead, cadmium, and a class of chemicals called phthalates, which can disrupt the endocrine system, among many other health problems.
  • Rubber Yoga Mats
Rubber yoga mats are durable and are generally made from natural rubber from trees, although rubber yoga mats can also be made synthetically. These mats are environmentally sustainable, long-lasting, and come in a variety of thicknesses. Rubber mats can have a strong odor which some people find unpleasant. They can break down if left in the sun and are a bit more expensive than others.
  • Cotton Yoga Mats
Cotton yoga mats are a good choice for certain types of yoga that produce a lot of sweating, such as Bikram or Ashtanga. These mats absorb sweat, preventing slipping; however, students should take caution, as cotton yoga mats can slide around on a hard floor, causing potential injury.
  • Travel Yoga Mats
These mats are lightweight and portable. Travel yoga mats are ideal for someone who vacations and travels often. For transportation ease, travel yoga mats are designed to be very thin, offering little or no cushioning, and would be best used on a carpeted surface or over a blanket or towel.

Choosing a yoga mat depends largely on the student's personal requirements, as well as the type of yoga being practiced. With so many types of yoga mats available on the market, there is a yoga mat appropriate for every yoga student.

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