Let's face it, you and your yoga mat are in a long-term relationship. But when your relationship with your mat is dysfunctional, pesky distractions can divert your attention away from your breathing, your poses, and the heart of your practice. There’s nothing more frustrating than feeling your hands slide forward in downward dog despite your best efforts to focus your energy inwards. And no one likes experiencing pain when your mat doesn’t have enough cushion to protect your knee in low lunge.
Don’t worry! A little reflection on your body, your lifestyle, and your values will ensure you get what you need from your yoga mat. Call it relationship therapy!
What does your body need from a mat?
No one knows your body better than you do, and there’s a lot about your body that comes into play when choosing a yoga mat. Physiological factors like sweating, need for cushion, even allergies, need to be considered.
If you need a mat with a lot of grip, look for mats made of naturally sticky material like PVC or mats with a textured surface. Both will help keep you from sliding.
You might even consider a yoga towel, like our Wet Grip Mat Towel, for extra grip in super sweaty classes. It will stick to your mat and gets grippier as you get sweatier; the combination ensures you’ll feel secure even in the steamiest of hot yoga classes.
With a new mat you will want to break it in to get the optimum stickiness from your mat. For tips on breaking in your mat check out how to clean your Halfmoon Yoga Mat..
Your need for cushion is another factor to consider. Mats come in a range of thicknesses from 2mm (1/8”) all the way up to 6mm (1/4”).
It’s important to note that, while a very squishy mat might provide protection for bones and joints in certain poses (like frog), its thickness can cause instability in balancing poses (like dancer or eagle).
In order to strike the right balance, you may want to consider selecting a mat that meets your cushioning needs for the majority of your practice, and doubling it over (or using other props) for the few poses in which you need a little extra support.
You also want to consider your allergies or sensitivities when selecting a yoga mat. As an example, small amounts of latex (a common allergen) occur naturally in rubber. Make sure you check out the components of a prospective mat so that you know it will get along with your body.
Are you a yogi on the go?
The Travel Yoga Mat, is a minimalist mat perfect for those who like to feel the ground under their feet but still have a layer between them and the floor. It also works great as an extra covering over the mats provided by your yoga studio. Another option is The Practice Mat. It is a thick mat, that's soft on the joints but is also lightweight and easy to carry around studio to studio.
Yoga mats can be awkward to carry, so those lugging yoga mats all over town of any weight will probably find it worthwhile to invest in a yoga baglike the Fancy Mat Bag or carrying strap like the Yoga Mat Strap.
Does environment play a role in your mat choice?
The environment is an issue that is dear to the hearts of many yogis. Yoga mats are made in a variety of different materials, all of which impact the earth in different ways.
Natural Rubber, is biodegradable, has great grip, a long life and is what makes up our Earth Grips Mat. Opposed to synthetic rubber, natural rubber comes from a renewable resource, trees! Rubber has that typical rubber smell that will decrease over time.
SEBS, or Styrene-Ethylene-Butylene-Styrene Block Copolymer, is a magical new material found in our Breathable Eco Mat. With a list of attributes that rivals its name in length, SEBS is truly the latest and greatest in eco mat material. It’s recyclable, decomposable, hypoallergenic, and contains no latex, chloride, or PVC. SEBS is also more tolerant to heat and sunlight than TPE. If you’re looking for an ultra lightweight, cushioned, and grippy mat in an eco-friendly material, look no farther than SEBS for the mat of your dreams!
PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, is the original and most common yoga mat material. PVC provides a sticky, cushioned mat but is not biodegradable.
On the other hand, PVC mats last for a very long time (we’ve heard from yoginis who used the same PVC mat for a decade or more), so investing in a PVC mat may mean using fewer mats over the lifetime of your practice. All our mats are 5P Free (non-toxic). Our PVC mats include the Mighty Mat, the Practice Mat, the Essential Studio Mat and the Travel Mat.
A Match Made in Heaven
Taking the time to reflect on what you need from your mat, and what works for your body your lifestyle, and your values, will ensure that this is a long-term love affair and not just a one class stand. To find out what mat works best for different styles of practices like hatha, power, flow or yin, check out how to choose a mat for your style of yoga.
Once you’ve found your perfect mat, don’t forget to begin your relationship with love by taking the time to air it out and break it in! For tips on cleaning your mat check out this blog on how to clean your Halfmoon Yoga Mat.