I have to admit it: I’m a total yoga mat snob. While I love the convenience of being able to borrow a mat from a studio, I choose instead to bring my own whenever possible, for two reasons.
First, I have found that having the right mat has a serious impact on my practice and overall class experience. Nothing throws me off more than having a mat that is too slippery and limits me in my poses. Sliding while trying to maintain downward dog is an instant Zen-killer for me! My own mat offers me the perfect amount of traction and comfort, and I love it for that.
Second, I find serious comfort in using my own mat. It’s like a security blanket. No matter where I’m practicing, if I unroll my own mat, it feels like home.
I personally am in love with my Jade mat, and I will probably be a loyal customer for life, but I love it because it works for me, not because I think it necessarily works for everyone. Choosing a yoga mat is a combination of personal preference and finding one that suits your practice. The right mat will elevate and support your practice (and bring a smile to your face).
Factors to consider when choosing a yoga mat
1. Style of yoga
Different mats are made for different styles of yoga. In an active class like Vinyasa or Ashtanga, you want a mat with good traction that will keep you from slipping in your poses. If you are more of a Yin/Restorative fan, you may opt for a slightly thicker mat for added comfort.
Hot yoga lovers want to find a mat specifically designed for heated classes, which will keep them from slipping and won’t easily absorb sweat and moisture. For multi-style yogis, opt for a medium thickness mat with good traction.
If you travel a lot, consider buying a thinner mat that will fit easily inside a suitcase. If eco-consciousness is important to you, look for a mat made of recyclable materials.
3. Personal style
Yoga mats aren’t just about function anymore, they’re also about style! If having a beautiful mat lights you up, find one with a color, pattern, or quote that inspires you.
4. Price range
I am all for spending good money on a quality mat, but I have also been practicing yoga for almost 10 years, and it is a part of my daily life. If you are new to yoga, you may not be ready to shell out for a high-end mat, and that is fine! For all yogis, regardless of your level, choose a mat that suits your budget.
5. Test ride before purchasing
If you’re not sure what kind of mat is right for you, take a few out for a test drive (test flow?) before purchasing! Borrow your friends’ mats or try out rental mats from the studio. Once you get a feel for what works for you, you’ll be able to make a more informed purchase. Whether or not you wear yoga socks could also influence how the mat feels beneath you, so testing is always a good idea.
Finding a mat that suits you will not only help your practice, but it can also offer comfort and put a smile on your face 🙂
Kate Horodyski is a freelance writer and traveler based in Halifax, Canada. You can find her on Instagram at @myspiritualroadtrip.