How to Choose Your First Yoga Mat?
The popularity of yoga has been quickly developing ever since yoga was introduced to the United States by Swami Vivekananda in 1893. According to some statistics regarding yoga, more than 35 million people in the United States practice yoga. Almost 1 in 3 Americans have tried practicing yoga before and there’s a forecast that the number of yogis will reach 55 million by 2020.
Yoga practice offers numerous physical and mental benefits for all people at any age. You can practice yoga anywhere anytime without limitation. It can be 30 minutes of practice at your favorite beach, at your favorite spots to watch the sunset, or even at your office between your lunch break. A small open area and a yoga mat are all you need to practice yoga. But how do you choose the right yoga mat that best fits you? Here are some points you should consider while selecting your first yoga mat.
The Type of Yoga You Practice
The origin of yoga can be traced back to 5,000 years ago, many different styles of yoga have evolved since then. When you are choosing a yoga mat, you should choose based on the type of yoga you are practicing and the style you are willing to move into in the future. Some types of yoga might have special requirements on the type of yoga mat.
Bikram/Hot yoga – practicing yoga in a hot and humid studio that can reach over 100 F would require your yoga mat to be sticky and heat-resistance. A natural rubber-made yoga mat is the go-to yoga mat for this type of yoga practice. You might also want to consider investing in a yoga towel since you will sweat a lot.
Ashtanga yoga – it can take nearly 2 hours to finish the primary series, the Ashtanga yoga is one of the most rigorous styles of yoga. To complete the series, you might want to consider a sticky yoga mat that could provide you a strong cushion.
Consider Your Height
We recommend you choose a length that is at least 3 inches longer than your height. For instance,
If you are 5’7’’, a 68 inches long yoga mat would be a perfect one for you.
The most common size of yoga mat in the market is 24” x 68”. Despite the length of yoga mats might be varied, the width does not change. The next size up from 68” is 72”, and then 74”. Some yoga mats are even 84” long. There is no official guide for the length you should choose, we recommend choosing one that is 3 inches longer than your height.
The material is the key component of choosing a yoga mat. Selecting the right material could affect your entire yoga journey. Four major materials are being used on the yoga mat:
- PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) – Also known as Vinyl. The PVC yoga mat is generally sticker and thicker compare to other yoga mats. It’s also not easy to break down and able to last for a long time. You can get one at a very low price. Although most yoga mats in the market are made of PVC, they are not ecologically friendly nor biodegradable at all. Besides that, if you are allergic to latex, you should pick other materials for your safety.
- TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomer) – Compare to PVC-made yoga mats, TPE yoga mats are environmentally friendly even though they are still artificial. Most TPE yoga mats can be recycled at the end of use to create more TPE yoga mats. Due to the nature of the material, TPE yoga mats are less durable than the PVC yoga mats, but it still has a great cushion.
- Natural rubber – If you are looking for a yoga mat that is not harmful to the environment, a natural rubber yoga mat is your number one choice. Most natural rubber-made yoga mats are biodegradable and recyclable. They are more durable and toxic-free, though the price can range from $100-200. If you are allergic to latex, a natural rubber yoga mat is not for you.
Are you the type of person that needs much cushion while practicing yoga? If so, a 6mm (1/4 inch) yoga mat should be a great choice for you. Among all yoga mats, 6mm is the most common thickness that yoga companies offer, which is the first feature you should consider if you enjoy extra cushion or if you practice a type of yoga that requires you to hold a gesture for a long period. But the disadvantage is, the thicker the yoga mat is, the heavier it could be, which means less portability.
If you are the type of person that does not need much cushion while practicing yoga, a 5mm yoga mat is your next choice. A slightly thinner yoga mat tends to provide better support and prevent you from sinking too much when you do balance poses. Also, thinner means less weight and more portable.
Where You Practice Yoga
Where you are planning to practice yoga is also one of the factors you should consider when picking a yoga mat.
If you are a traveler and would like to do yoga during your trip, a lightweight portable yoga mat can fit in your trunk.
On the other hand, if you prefer to practice yoga at home, weight might be the last factor you should consider. You might want to focus on choosing the thickness and material instead.
Practicing yoga outdoor, maybe at your favorite spot watching the sunset, could be a whole different experience. Think about practicing yoga at your favorite place, listening to the birds chirping, the waves splashing on the shore, and the sunset shining on you, don’t you want to do yoga outside? A slightly thick yoga mat that offers a strong cushion and grip is your great companion. You can lay it on a bumble area and focus on your balance and poses without being distracted from the pain given by the rocks.
After choosing the material and thickness, you might also want to look into the style of the yoga mat. Picking your favorite color could have positive effects on motivating you to practice yoga more!
Now, you are ready to choose your first yoga mat and jump into your yoga journey? We are excited for you! Should you have any questions, please contact us!