The art of yoga isn't just designed to sculpt and tone your body. It is widely practiced all over the world not just as a fitness routine, but also as a form of meditation and spiritual exercise. Another great thing about yoga is that you don't need any expensive equipment to practice it — all you need is an open mind, discipline, and the perfect yoga mat.
What to Look For In a Yoga Mat
Many first-timers make the mistake of choosing the cheapest yoga mat available, thinking that any mat will do and can be used well for practicing yoga. On the contrary, finding the perfect yoga mat is important because this will affect how you are able to follow and carry out yoga poses, most probably for a very long time. Moreover, a poorly made yoga mat can cause discomfort or even injury, which can prevent you from deepening your practice. Here are some things you should consider when buying a yoga mat.
Sweat-Proof and Good Grip
Yoga is a physical routine as much as it is meditational, so expect to sweat out while holding different yoga poses. In fact, one of the foundations of yoga is the concept of austerity and discipline (tapas, which literally translates as to burn or glow), wherein the process of sweating through your hard work can be compared to cooking away the dirt of your personality. So sweating is a sign of a great practice. Thus, you have to make sure that your yoga mat has a good enough grip that it won't start slipping even when it's covered in your sweat. Even if you also use a yoga towel, doing yoga on a loose-grip mat can lead to slips and sprains. You also won't get the best results if you don't get to do yoga poses as they should be done because you're too concerned about slipping.
Durable and Washable
If you plan on doing yoga and making it a regular routine in your life, it's best to invest on a yoga mat that is easy to wash and will last for years. Some mats are easy to wear out and the cushion becomes thin the longer you use them. This is fine if you only want to do yoga a couple times, but if you intend on making it a routine, get one that lasts long and has enough cushion for your body when doing different yoga poses. Also keep in mind, however, that your mat shouldn’t be too cushy, as that can be just as bad for your wrists and joints as a thin mat.
Size and Texture
Yoga mats come in different sizes, with a length that could be anywhere from 27 to 68 inches and a standard width of 24 inches. Naturally, you should choose a yoga mat that's long enough for your frame so you can do yoga poses that involve lying on your back. You will also find that as your practice progresses and you become for capable of moves such as jump backs to chaturanga dandasana (low plank) to do a Vinyasa, as well as jump throughs to sitting, you will appreciate a mat that can accommodate both. Those who need a bit of help maintaining yoga poses should also look into textured mats to lessen chances of slipping. Certain mats come in a variety of non-slip finishes that really enables this.
These are the essential factors you should look into when buying a yoga mat. The mat is definitely the most important tool you will need to practice yoga, so make sure you get one that will allow you to hold poses effectively and last for a long time, without distracting you from your goal. For more information on all things yoga, have a look around our yoga blog to learn about poses and get tips on how you can enhance your yoga experience.