Wondering how to buy a yoga mat? No sweat! Whether you downward dog daily or practice poses as the mood strikes, having a good yoga mat is a must. The easy way–if you don’t care about quality or function, that is–is to go to pretty much any big box store or local drugstore and simply pick your favorite color. You’ll likely pay around $20 if you go this route, but you may quickly find that it was just money wasted.
Yoga mats may all look pretty similar–a rectangular piece of padded material–but they come with quite a few features that will make it easier on your asanas. While you don’t have to go for top of the line when purchasing a mat (we’re talking the three-digit dollar range), you should consider which of the following features may improve or hinder your practice.
It can be challenging to hold a yoga posture when your hands and feet keep slipping on the surface of your mat. When you’re trying to get your zen on, the last thing you want is to be frustrated by a mat that is working against you. If you can, test out a mat in person to see what the sticky factor is like. A downward dog with bare hands and feet is a good pose to try. If you’re sliding or feel like you’re holding on for dear life, it’s not the mat for you. If you’re shopping online, be sure to read reviews to check what other purchasers have to say about the grip.
Yes, even with yoga mats, size matters. That’s because people come in all different heights, so yoga mats need to as well. Think of it like a bed: If you’re 7-feet tall, you don’t wouldn’t select a mattress where your head and feet hang off the ends. Apply that same reasoning when buying a yoga mat. If you’re vertically challenged, keep an eye on the size, too. While you can get away with an average size mat (68 inches), accidentally purchasing a tall mat could make you feel like you’re stranded on a desert island in the middle of your yoga class.
If you’re new to yoga or if you tend to have strength issues with wrists, look for a mat with a bit more padding. The padding will help to support you,
and will provide a little extra comfort when trying out arm balances. However, don’t go overboard either. If the mat is more like a puffy piece of foam you could imagine being comfy while camping, keep looking.
If you could care less about chemicals and toxins, then your mat choices are pretty limitless. Many are made from PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, which is great for the slipping issues, but not so much so when it comes to being “green.” PVC is considered a toxic plastic that is not easy or inexpensive to recycle. If you prefer a more treehugger friendly mat, look for ones made of bamboo, jute, cotton, or recycled rubber.
You should think of coming to your mat as you would coming to your happy place. If your happy place requires bold colors and interesting patterns, there’s a mat for that. While it might not be best to sacrifice function for form, choosing a mat that appeals to you aesthetically is always a good idea when available.
If you’re in the the market for a yoga mat, be sure to shop around and give them a test drive before you buy if possible. Many yoga and fitness specialty stores have opened mats available to sample. And check with your yoga studio to see what kind of mats they rent out for another way to try before you buy. You can also hit up your yogi friends. Ask to borrow a mat when not in use, or see if they have any old mats hanging around for you to test.
Yoga Mats to Try
- For an eco-friendly mat with great grip, try the Zen Aerobics TPE Material Yoga Mat.
- For a bit more cushion, no-slip texture, and longer length, try the Mayura Yoga Mat.
- For all the bells and whistles plus high style, try the Senzorial Combo Yoga Mat.
Best of luck with mat buying. Namaste!