With so many options out there, how do you narrow down this seemingly infinite selection? Since we all have different needs, it’s going to be a subjective choice based on personal preferences.
For instance, someone who practices heated vinyasa flow at a studio on the way home from work may look for a mat that’s quite different from another person who wants one to keep at home for relaxing, restorative yoga sessions.
One of the things you’ll realize during a yoga teacher training is that your mat will get its fair share of wear, and be sweated on A LOT.”Good grip” become the most important criteria for choosing a mat for a yoga course. How frustrating it is to not been able to practice as the mat is too slippery to offer any form of grip. In our yoga retreats, many students discover how the humidity really takes it up a notch, and for me personally, pretty much all yoga in Thailand is “hot yoga”!
Aside from the intended uses, there are certain factors to help you choose a better mat for you, such as:
Size & weight
Very important detail to consider if you’ll be carrying it to and from your home, or traveling with it. The thickness matters if you want more cushioning for your knees and in reclined postures.
How grippy / sticky is it?
Will you slip all over the place as soon as you begin sweating? Will you need to lay a towel over it? Some mats are designed for more grip once they’re a bit wet, while others require drier hands and feet to remain sticky. If you expect to spend more time sitting or laying down on it then this point becomes irrelevant.
Does it contain any nasty chemicals that you’ll be breathing in every time you get on the mat? Is it manufactured using environmentally friendly materials? Natural rubber, cork and ones made without carcinogenic plasticizers and glues are better for your health too.
Yes, this is another factor to review. (Have you seen the price of the Manduka PRO Squared mat??) However do keep in mind that a good yoga mat can last a long time when well cared for, so it’s worth the extra expense if it keeps you safer from injury and enjoying your practice more.
One of the mats that many yogis really love is made by Liforme, which was the first to create a unique “navigational tool” – i.e., visible guide lines in the design to help with alignment in various poses.
Designs & Colors This may be just a preference. Some may affect your energy or can be more calming and grounding. Color therapy, chakra enhancing or feng shui? Maybe it simply puts a smile on your face.