21 July 2020
21 July 2020
Congrats! You’ve decided to start doing yoga and are now embarking on the exciting task of selecting just the right mat to get you on your way. With a seemingly endless supply of different types of yoga mats on the market, it might seem impossible to determine which mat will best suit your needs. You may also be wondering why it even matters what yoga mat is best. It turns out, choosing the right mat for your personal comfort and the style of yoga you intend to practice can make a big difference to your overall yoga experience.
Read on for tips on how to choose the right mat to get you started on your yoga journey.
Although many yogis traditionally practiced directly on the ground or on an animal rug, modern yoga practices usually involve a more comfortable and practical approach. With all of the different types of yoga mats on the market today, varying in shape, size, texture, composition, and thickness, it can be stressful trying to determine what yoga mat is best for you. However, with some careful thought to where you’ll be practising, the type of yoga you’ll be doing, your fitness level and your personal values, you’ll be able to determine your perfect yoga mat match.
If you’ve never practised yoga before, some poses may feel like basic stretches while others may feel downright impossible. Thankfully, some yoga mats are designed specifically with beginners in mind and come with alignment markings to help keep your hands and feet in the right positions throughout your practice. This style of mat assists with learning new poses and helps to prevent injuries along the way. This Perfect Alignment mat will help guide you through your practice and is designed with a high-quality cork surface and a natural rubber base to offer excellent stability and traction for beginners.
When deciding between different types of yoga mats, it’s important to take into consideration the style of yoga that you’ll be likely to practice. Thicker mats may be better for restorative or Yin yoga styles as you are required to hold the poses for longer and you’ll likely be spending more time sitting and lying down. If power yoga or hot yoga are more your thing, it’s likely you’ll be working up a sweat and transitioning more quickly between poses. You don’t want to be slipping off your mat in the middle of class so a 5mm cork yoga mat such as this Chakras Yoga Mat is a perfect option when you want that balance between comfort and traction. The beauty of practising on a cork surface is that cork actually gets grippier when it gets wet so no amount of sweat will stop your hands and feet from staying planted right where they should be.
When it comes to determining what yoga mat is best for you, the thickness and density of the mat definitely play a role. Yoga mats can vary in thickness from 1.5-10 mm and each type serves its own purpose. Thinner mats are great to fold up and pack in a suitcase, although they aren’t ideal if you’re practicing on a hard surface as they can place pressure on your joints. Standard mats range from 3-5mm and work for most common surfaces.
If it’s likely that you’ll be placing the mat over concrete or tiled floors, choose a thicker style made from a denser material. However, if you’re hoping to travel to and from a class on foot or bicycle, it’s best to go with a lighter-weight mat that rolls up easily and comes with a carry strap.
When you’re just starting out, opt for a 5mm all-rounder like this Harmony Yoga Mat that offers the perfect balance between comfort and support. It’s suitable for all types of yoga practices as it combines both cushioning and enough structure to help you feel grounded to the floor. As a bonus, it comes with its own carry strap making it easy to roll up and tote from your home to the car to the studio.
When you’re just starting your journey into yoga, the main priority will be that you’re comfortable and that your mat isn’t distracting you during your practice. A good guideline is to lie down on the mat on your back and ensure that neither your head nor your heels are on the floor. The mat should also be slightly wider than your shoulders so that when lying down, your arms can rest comfortably by your sides without falling off the mat. You will appreciate this at the end of your practice when you get to enjoy Shavasana, or lying down pose (yes - that’s a real thing!)
As you transition through different sequences throughout a class, you may not always end up where you started on the mat so you want to ensure that you’re not too cramped for space. If you’re constantly having to adjust your hands and feet to keep them on the mat, you’re likely to lose focus on your practice.
If your conscience is telling you to look for an Earth-friendly mat, you’re in luck as there are many options for sustainable, non-toxic yoga mats on the market today. Around the world, materials like hemp, natural rubber and cork are all gaining in popularity and each material has it's own unique properties. Cork is a highly renewable resource as trees don’t need to be cut down in order for the cork to be harvested. Cork can be stripped from the trees every 9 years and many of these trees can live to be 300 years old!
Another fabulous eco-friendly option is hemp. As hemp fibre is only extracted from the stem of the plant, it’s another natural and sustainable material. Both hemp and cork are naturally resistant to bacteria, mould and fungus which helps to keep them smelling fresh regardless of how often they are used. Suitable for beginners with its anti-slip properties and 5mm cushioning, this Recycled Mats hemp yoga mat is an excellent choice.
The tree rubber sourced in our mats is also a healthier choice as it contains no silicone, toxic glue, phthalates or PVC and unlike other synthetic rubber or foam, it's hard-wearing and won't retain moisture. In a variety of stunning designs to choose from, Recycled Mats offers their micro-fibre yoga mats in a myriad of colour choices too.
As a bonus, Recycled Mats ships all of their products, including this hemp yoga mat Australia wide and internationally so it’s easy to get on board with their eco-friendly options.
With so many types of yoga mats to choose from, you can have fun choosing the colour and design of your mat as well. As you’ll be spending a great deal of time looking down at your mat during your practice, it’s important to like what you see! Designs can be whimsical, symbolic, energizing or nature themed like this gorgeous Lemon Myrtle abstract design or these Australian inspired printed mats. When deciding what yoga mat is best for you, be sure to take the time to shop around and know what you generally require in terms of the type of practice you'll be undertaking and in what sort of setting.