Choosing a yoga mat is important. 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 travel mat that will fit easily inside a suitcase. If eco-consciousness is important to you, look for a mat made of recyclable materials.
3. How much space you need
If you’re on the big or tall side, consider getting an extra wide or extra long mat. Or if you’ll be practicing in your own house, and you have plenty of room to spread out, then you might also want a bigger mat. Most people, however, will probably want a standard-sized mat. CLick for our advice if you’re confused about what size yoga mat to buy.
4. 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. It may seem silly to get hung up on what a mat looks like, but having an attractive mat can help your mood on those days when you’re feeling a little off.
5. 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.
6. 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. Choosing a yoga mat isn’t all that difficult. The important thing is to just get started!
Kate Horodyski is a freelance writer and traveler based in Halifax, Canada. You can find her on Instagram at @myspiritualroadtrip.