Yoga Mats are so significant to yogis that they have been identified as a symbol for yoga. As a metaphor, they represent the area or space wherein an individual can feel a sense of relief from the chaotic and inevitable day-to-day life.
A good mat can vary from one person to another; depending on their preference; a standard size for a yoga mat is 68 inches long and 24 inches wide.
Although yoga can be done on a carpeted floor or grass, yoga mats provide that comfort, cushiness and ‘stick’ in order to prevent any accidents.
How to choose
Before, choosing the best yoga mat wasn’t that complex, it was a mat made of PVC and you simply had to pick what color you preferred and that was it.
Years since people started using yoga mats, trends and innovations happened and now there are many varieties of mats to choose from. But how do you know which one best suits you?
Below are some of the things you need to look at or assess before making your purchase.
Although a mat’s thickness preference varies from one person to another, it’s not just simply saying ‘I like a thinner mat because its lighter’ there is a reason why thickness is an essential part of decision making when choosing a mat.
The thickness of a mat determines its comfortability, if too thin your knees may end up getting beaten during lunges which can leave bruises, too thick on the other hand can make you less sturdy when doing yoga poses due to the weaker connection with the floor.
The standard thickness of a yoga mat is ⅛ inch while the thickest is at ¼ inch, thinner mats are also referred to or identified as travel mats due to their lightness and width during travel and are about 1/16 inch in terms of thickness.
Consider the following, the area of your mat which corresponds to the size of the room you’ll be using and determine the thickness which you are most comfortable with. Thin enough to be of ease when carrying and traveling and to prevent wobbling during sessions and thick enough to prevent your body parts from getting banged up.
Although looks play a part, the material of your mat is not just for show. Its essence lies in how it feels overall and how long it is built to last. The type of material used in your mat can determine its texture, sponginess, stickiness and if it is eco-friendly.
Most of them are made up of the same material as the original ones which is PVC also recognized as vinyl. The brand new ones nowadays can vary from recycled or natural rubber, organic or natural cotton (not treated with synthetic touch-ups or finishes) and jute.
Here are some things to keep in mind before deciding on your mat’s material:
If you want a true sticky yoga mat, go for the original PVC mat which has been tried and tested and can endure a lot before finally kicking the bucket. It also has the most sponginess. If you have an allergic reaction to latex then avoid mats that are made from natural rubber.
The texture is not just about the comfort a mat brings but also how it helps in barricading any sudden sliding by relying its stickiness on suction and its effectiveness when put into action; how much grip it has to prevent you from sliding, slipping or encountering any kind of accident.
The texture of a yoga mat is the result of two things: Man-made or natural.
Man-made textures are those patterned bumps found in yoga mats while natural textures are brought about by the materials used in creating the product, like how jute mats have a roughness in them.
If using PVC mats are an issue for you but you want to have that anti-slip assurance then you can go for cotton, rubber or jute mats. These mats also have tactile and raised patterns. If smoothness, however, is of vital importance to you then PVC mats are definitely for you.
Stickiness is the reason why yoga mats keep on selling. They help in preventing you from sliding or having any accidents and it also helps in keeping you in posture as you transition from one yoga pose to another.
In terms of stickiness, PVC mats have proven themselves since the beginning as they have the highest sticky factor.
If stickiness is the most essential part of a yoga mat for you then go for PVC mats, although, keep in mind that the stickiness of a mat will also depend on how much you take care of it; not looking after your yoga gear can lead to a decrease in its stickiness.
We’ll go into care later on.
Although to some, using a PVC mat maybe an issue despite having a strong grip as they are not that eco-friendly, however, if you are definitely sure with a PVC mat then the few ways of keeping it clean is by washing before use.
One way to check if your mat is losing its stickiness is by feeling whether your hands or feet are sliding when carrying out a certain pose.
Other things to consider
If you are a regular yoga practitioner then you must have a soft spot for the environment, this is mainly because you hold close the tenet of ahimsa or to cause ‘no injury’. Tenet of ahimsa is a cardinal virtue wherein you place importance or compassion to all other living things. With this said, you may be very conscious about how non eco friendly yoga mats can harm the environment.
Eco friendly yoga mats are made up of natural materials or even recycled rubber. Included in the materials are organic cotton and jute.
If you are highly driven in keeping the planet safe then it would be best to avoid the traditional yoga mats or PVC mats as they are impossible to dissolve on landfills and more often more difficult to recycle.
There are many eco-friendly kinds of cotton, jute, and rubber mats which can have the same thickness, convenience, and comfortability as PVC mats. And if it is to your liking, they also have textures.
The pricing of yoga mats are fairly simple. Those that are thicker are more expensive than those that are thinner. The same way that PVCs are cheaper than eco-friendly ones. The additional expenses can come from the design and patterns which you have chosen.
The best yoga mats
Can differentiate from one person to another and highly depends on a person’s preferences. However, there can also be too many to choose from, especially if you’re a beginner and pressured not to waste money on the wrong one.
I know how frustrating it can be to buy something only to be disappointed, I remember buying a number of things online, especially clothes only to find out that they either had damage or didn’t fit that well.
It’s a good thing however that a guide like this exists, that way you could have an idea on what to look for before buying a yoga mat. The basis will come from the things discussed before – thickness, material, texture, and stickiness.
- Gaiam Sol Studio – Best Overall
- Aurorae Synergy 2-in-1 – Best for Hot Yoga
- BalanceFrom GoYoga – Budget Friendly
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- Latex-free (Good for those who have an allergic reaction to latex)
- Good for hot yoga
- Has one of the best grips
- Has excellent anti-slip features
- Thicker than most mats
- Has excellent absorption which protects it from moisture
- Germ and bacteria-free
- Long exposure to sunlight can cause early brittleness and fading of the color
- Has that unpleasant smell when unrolled for the first time
- Should be kept in bags at all times
Why we choose it
Gaiam sol studio yoga mat comes in two available sizes, one 68-inch x 24-inch, and 78-inch x 26-inch, and both offer a thickness of 5mm which is considered to be very thick and effective in providing an extra cushion when in use.
The material created for Gaiam sol studio is a lightweight PVC backing and it is a hundred percent rubber and latex-free. Its material also sucks moisture and keeps it dry at all times. Although, it must be kept in a bag in order to protect it from sunlight because too much exposure to sunlight can make it brittle and lose its color.
Notably, it is also softer than most yoga mats and it is intended to be durable and last longer.
This yoga mat is covered with a dry top coat and has a closed-cell construction. Dry topcoat meaning that this prevents the mat from moisturizing keeping it dry and enhances its grip. And closed-cell construction is used for keeping out germs, bacteria, and odor.
Gaiam sol studio yoga mat is recognized for its stickiness and grip. Its dry top coat enhances its grip even further and if you do hot yoga this makes it even better. The more you sweat the damper the yoga mat becomes and the stickier it gets.
Points to consider
Although this yoga mat is visioned to have a longer life, it is good to keep in mind that exposure or too much exposure to sunlight can make its color fade and can become more easily brittle and it is best to keep it in a bag when not in use. Also, do note that when you first unroll this mat it can have an unpleasant smell that normally comes with new things.
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- Non-toxic. It is free from phthalates, silicon, phenols, latex, and rubber
- 2-in-1 yoga mat
- Good grip
- Easy to clean
- Needs to be placed in the dryer after washing
- You need to wrap it in a towel to get rid of the absorbed water
- You need to dry it out in order to prevent odor from latching onto it
Why we choose it
Aurorae synergy 2-in-1 yoga mat is a durable, comfy and lightweight yoga mat that has a thickness of 5mm, and has a length of 72 inches and a width of 24 inches. And it is one of the latest released products of Aurorae.
Aurorae synergy 2-in-1 yoga mat is made with both easy to clean and eco-friendly materials. These are materials which are free from harmful products such as latex, rubber, silicone, and phthalates.
The Aurorae synergy 2-in-1 yoga mat has a non-slip and absorbent microfiber towel on the top surface which is good if you sweat a lot, while having a 5mm patented PER yoga mat at the bottom.
This yoga mat has a good grip and prevents you from slipping, and because it has a super-absorbent surface, the wetter or more sweaty you are during a session, stickier and more grip this mat has.
Points to consider
Aurorae Synergy 2-in-1 yoga mat is made by Aurorae, one of the best yoga companies out there. This yoga mat has a variety of designs and you can choose up to five different colors. One of the best ways to get the most out of this yoga mat is by damping a little bit of water on it before engaging in a yoga session. It is highly recommended for both hot and active yoga.
Although it is stated that it is easy to clean and can even be washed in a machine, this yoga mat has a number of care instructions that comes with it after using and washing in order to get rid of the absorbed water and it also has separate instructions for preventing odor from latching onto it.
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- Good absorption which can prevent moisture
- Has carrying straps
- Easy to clean
- Must be used barefoot, as it has the possibility of getting torn off
- Can produce sounds when in use
Why we choose it
The BalanceFrom GoYoga mat has a thickness of ¼ inch which can help in keeping you in balance while doing multiple yoga poses and steps and has a length of 68-inch and width of 24-inch. It is also lightweight which makes it easy to carry around.
The BalanceFrom GoYoga is made from eco-friendly materials and double-sided high-density foam material. It also has a good moisture absorbent feature and non-slip surface.
The BalanceFrom GoYoga mat has a foam material which means its texture is ‘memory-foam like’ in simpler terms, it has a soft and cushy feel to it.
This yoga mat has a good slip-resistance quality and its thickness also plays a role in how strong its grip is.
Points to consider
BalanceFrom GoYoga is an all-purpose mat which means it can be used for many yoga poses and steps without you having to worry about slipping or falling. It is also lightweight and has a carrying strap which makes it convenient when traveling. It is available in 6 colors wherein you can choose which one best suits you and your personality.
One of the best features of this yoga mat is that it is affordable, however, there may be a reason for that as when in use you must be barefoot in order to prevent the yoga mat from getting torn off and it can also produce some sounds when you are in session which you might find distracting.
Different types of yoga + best mat
If you have read and understood thoroughly the things to look for when choosing a mat but are still unsure, below are some types of yoga and which mat is best to use for them. Maybe through choosing a mat based on the type of yoga that you are doing, you’ll be able to pick easier.
Vinyasa yoga is a popular type of yoga that is taught at most gyms and studios. Vinyasa is derived from Hatha yoga and means ‘linking one’s breath with their movements’, the difference between the two lies in the flow and pace of the movements.
The movements done in Vinyasa are fluid and executed in a flowing sequence, also known as ‘vinyasa flow’. These movements when performed continuously can recreate a sort of dance and is considered as a moving meditation.
This yoga is popularized due to its movements, pleasant music and is performed usually in a dark or dim room lit only by candlelight or the yogis themselves are blindfolded.
Due to its movements, it is recommended that you use a yoga mat that has a smooth texture but strong grip based for this type of yoga. You can opt for a natural rubber mat, these mats have minimal textures but can still have an excellent anti-slip feature that can prevent you from falling and slipping even as you sweat.
Best yoga mat for Vinyasa: Gaiam sol: dry grip yoga mat
Ashtanga is commonly identified by most people as Indian yoga. This yoga encompasses a sort of yogic lifestyle and has a meaning of ‘eight limbs’. Ashtanga yoga executes a number of asanas or postures which synchronizes breath with movement just like Vinyasa yoga.
The postures found in this yoga are done the same way every time that it is performed, it has a standing sequence, closing sequence, and both Sun Salutation A and Sun Salutation B. Unlike Vinyasa, this yoga is performed in silence without any music and sometimes even without instruction.
This type of yoga is best done with a sticky mat, it can be natural rubber or Thermoplastic elastomers also known as TPE. This is because these mats have a firm grip despite sweat dripping on it. But to be on the safe side, you can keep yoga towels to add more slip resistance during sessions.
Best yoga mat for Ashtanga: Gaiam sol: dry grip yoga mat
Bikram and Hot Yoga
Bikram and hot yoga are two highly similar types of yoga. It consists of around 26 yoga poses and two breathing exercises and is done in a room temperature that is around 100 – 105 degrees with 40 percent humidity, guaranteed to make you sweat.
The ambiance of the room where this yoga is done is bright and filled with mirrors so that yogis can check if they are doing their poses properly, this type of yoga is also done in silence.
It is advised that you use both a yoga mat towel and a natural rubber yoga mat. You can also bring in a few towels to wipe off the sweat.
Best yoga mat for hot yoga: Aurorae Synergy 2-in-1
Best yoga mat for Bikram: Aurorae Synergy 2-in-1
Iyengar yoga focuses on balance and proper alignment and does not increase your heart rate, which means you won’t sweat as much. This type of yoga is named after BKS Iyengar a well-known yogi from India. This yoga is also based on the eight limbs of yoga.
Iyengar yoga is taught at a slower pace and is taught without any music.
Since you won’t be sweating a lot, this type of yoga doesn’t require a thick or a super sticky mat. A thinner mat is more effective in making sure you won’t wobble when executing a certain pose.
Best yoga mat for Iyengar: BalanceFrom GoYoga
Restorative and Yin yoga
Although Restorative and Yin yoga may look the same, they have their differences. Yin yoga focuses on stretching and enhancing the flexibility of your connective tissues while restorative yoga is dependent on the use of props in order to release tension from the body.
Both these yogas have slow movements and emphasize staying in a certain position for a longer period in order to release tension.
Since both of these yogas are gentle and slow, there is a wider range of selection of which yoga mat to use, however, it would be best to go for a cotton yoga mat as you will feel more relaxed and comfortable when doing this activity.
Best yoga mat for Restorative yoga: BalanceFrom GoYoga
Best yoga mat for yin yoga: BalanceFrom GoYoga
Yoga mat care and maintenance
Although yoga mats vary from one another, for some, you need to go the extra mile in order to maintain its quality and make sure that it lasts longer. In order to make sure you give the utmost care to your yoga mat here are some of the recommended ways in which you can look after your yoga mat.
For starters, you can use the simplest way to clean a yoga mat which is to wash it with a wet washcloth together with soapy water, it is advised that you use a non-oil-based soap and wipe it to your yoga mat before making use of it for the first time and after every week.
There are some available mat sprays out there. I recommend one that has a gentle or mild formula but is strong enough to get rid of bacteria and germs and is hypoallergenic to prevent you from getting any allergic reaction.
Saucha natural yoga mat cleaner is a good way to go if you’re planning to buy a yoga mat cleaner. This product has a gentle and mild formula that can also be tough on sweat, dirt, fungus and odor causing bacteria. It is also both hygienic and hypoallergenic making it safe for you and your fellow yogis.
This cleaner also dries quickly making it easy and convenient for you in setting up right before your actual session. Another convenient feature that it has is that it is travel size. You can carry this with you when you have out of town trips and it won’t even take up that much space in your luggage or locker.
The best part? You can be worry free about it making a mess inside your bag or carrier.
How to make your own yoga mat cleaner (DIY Spray)
Whether it be at home or at the studio, yoga mats have definitely been put to use by yogis. It is for this very reason that you should always make sure that your mat is always clean and sanitary.
After using your yoga mat, you can be sure that once you roll it up, you are rolling it together with the different germs and bacteria that you have caught on the floor during your session.
If you don’t have a habit of cleaning your yoga mat regularly then you better think again. Sure, it can be quite tiring, that after a long session the work is not yet done and you still have your mat to look after, but then the cleanliness of your yoga mat can also greatly affect your health and performance.
This is where yoga mat cleaners come in, they help in making the cleaning of yoga mats easier. But just like with yoga mats, some like to make their own yoga mat cleaner according to their own preferences, which is why there are ways in which you can make your own DIY yoga mat cleaner.
Here is an easy to do yoga mat cleaner that you can do in the comfort of your home.
Things you will need:
- A handy or small spray bottle
- Distilled water
- Tea tree essential oil
- Lavender essential oil
- White vinegar or witch hazel
In a small spray bottle (one that is around 2-4 ounces), fill it with distilled water accumulating at least ¾ of the spray bottle. Then add a single (one) drop of lavender essential oil. Lavender is an antibacterial essential oil whose scent can release tension and promote calmness and relaxation.
If you’re not into the scent of lavender, there are also many essential oils out there which you can use to your liking.
Another essential oil to add in the mixture is tea tree oil, two drops of it. Tea tree oil is both antifungal and antibacterial which is helpful in sanitizing your yoga mat thoroughly. Other essential oils you can substitute to tea tree oil (if you’re not a fan of it) are eucalyptus, peppermint and lemongrass.
Lastly you can add ¼ white vinegar or witch hazel to your mixture. Both of these liquids are good in removing tough to clean stains, however the same goes for their scent which is why adding essential oils are used to mask their aromas.
Directions for use:
Before using the mixture always make sure to shake your bottle thoroughly. Spray the mixture on to your yoga mat and wipe it with a damp cloth. Do this for both sides and dry your mat for at least 5 – 10 mins before rolling and storing it.
Source: Krysta Shannon from YogiApproved
For fast or quick cleaning, create a half water and half apple cider vinegar mixture and wipe it on your yoga mat, after washing it, you can let it dry outside.
If your yoga mat has that new mat smell, you just simply hang it outside for a day or two and the smell will naturally lessen or fade. However, you should be cautious about this because some yoga mats, when exposed to the sunlight for too long can have its color fade and cause brittleness like the Gaiam sol yoga mat.
If your mat has that sensitivity to sunlight make sure to minimize its exposure by only limiting it to a few minutes instead of a day or so, the scent will fade anyway as you keep on using the mat on a regular basis. Also, opt for easy to dry mat cleaners, like the previously mentioned saucha natural yoga mat cleaner.
What is yoga?
Yoga is a physical activity that consists of disciplines and practices in mental, physical, and spiritual aspects. This includes meditation, breath control, and different bodily postures. Some use this activity to relax while some do it as an everyday activity.
Can I lose weight with yoga?
Yoga is mostly used for meditation and relaxation, however, engaging yourself in a type of yoga which is more challenging and increases your heart rate like ashtanga, vinyasa and hot yoga, then it may be able to help you shed a few pounds. Yoga is not intended as a weight-loss activity but it can help you lose weight in some ways.
Do you have to be flexible to do yoga
Not all who do yoga are flexible people, some learned and became flexible as they did yoga on a regular basis. You don’t have to be intimidated by those other people who are flexible, engage yourself for a little while and you’ll find yourself to be more flexible than when you first started.
Which type of yoga best suits me?
There are many types of yoga, deciding on which one to take will highly depend on what your goal is or what you’re trying to achieve. Decide based on what you need or want to focus on.
Yoga is a type of activity which lets people relax, meditate and even be stress-free. Yoga mats are important to yogis as they help in releasing the maximum potential of yogis when they engage in the activity.
Although deciding on a mat will highly depend on the preference of a person, it is good to know which mat has the most potential and is a money-back guarantee.
Gaiam sol yoga mat won as the best overall yoga mat because it is highly durable and is built to last for a very long time and has been recognized for having a strong grip, not to mention it has less maintenance out of all three.