8 Tips For Choosing a Yoga Mat

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I'm often asked what kind of yoga mat I recommend. It's a good question. Yoga's popularity has skyrocketed, and because of that, there are tons of yoga mats available. When it comes to buying a new one, it really just depends on your preferences. Before you haul off and buy the first one you see at your local sporting goods store, here are 8 tips to help you find the perfect mat for your yoga practice.
Size: Standard Size is 68” long and 24” wide. This works great for a shorty like me. However, many companies offer longer and wider mat sizes. If you find you’re always stepping off the mat during your practice or running out of room, you may want a longer mat.Thickness: Choosing a thicker mat will give you more padding if you need it (for your knees, elbows, etc.). On the flip side of that, some people like to feel more “grounded” and stable in poses (like Tree or Warrior II), so a thick mat may not be for them. However, as long as it’s a dense mat, it will be great for grounding. Be aware that the thicker the mat, the more it will weigh! If you plan on lugging it around much, this may or may not matter to you. If you travel often, consider getting a travel mat also. These are thinner and lighter mats that are much easier to pack.

Function: You can choose from a variety of materials that are geared for different purposes, with various textures and stickiness for grip. For example: hot yoga. If that's your yoga of choice, some mats are made for this and maintain grip even when sweaty. [Or, you can purchase a hot yoga towel that fits exactly over a 68" mat and soaks up sweat and helps you grip when sweaty.]

Material: You can choose a mat that is made from eco-friendly sources, recyclable, latex free, or have lifetime warranties.

Cleanliness: Some mats are made denser and less porous so that dirt, sweat and bacteria are easier to clean away.

Ease Of Use: Some mats will need to be broken in, and others are ready to go.

Appearance: The colors and designs to choose from are endless. This sounds silly, but choose a mat that you’ll want to roll out and use.

Budget: Lastly, your budget… if you're trying yoga for the first time, I'd tell you to buy a cheap one (Target, Wal-Mart, TJ Maxx, etc.) and try a few yoga classes to make sure you like yoga. If you end up loving yoga, then you'll probably want to invest in a higher quality mat.

If some of the above options stuck out to you, then search for a mat with those qualities. There are all kinds of reviews online that you can read. For what it’s worth, I have several mats. Here are my two favorites...

I use my Jade Harmony mat most of the time, which is rubber and 3/16” thick. It's still my favorite mat. As I keep on practicing and teaching, this may change, so I will be sure to edit this post if that happens. It's rubber, so treat it with love. Don't leave it out in the sun or in the heat (like your car) because the rubber will dry out and become brittle and lose it's grip. If the smell of rubber bothers you, then stay away from all rubber mats... they will always have a slight smell.

I also have a Manduka PROLite that I love, love, love (4.7 mm thick, 71" and made of an eco-certified safe PVC). I use it outside because it loves the sun (unlike rubber) and gets nice and grippy in the sun, so it’s my go-to outdoor mat. It you practice outside often, take that into consideration. It definitely required some break-in time (a few months and a couple salt scrubs), but it has been worth it...especially since it has a lifetime guarantee. I have heard many friends say they like the lululemon mats and the Liforme mats as well.

While the higher quality mats do cost more, they last a lot longer and make a huge difference for your practice. Just take care of them, clean them often (see my post How To: Clean Your Yoga Mat for help on that), and they will last at least several years as opposed to the inexpensive ones that wear out super fast, provide no grip, and probably hurt your knees. 

Finally, the one and only con that I could think of for a high quality mat is that e v e r y t h i n g  sticks to it. Like dog hair. Trust me, I have three dogs. SO, if you have a dog or cat, choose your mat color wisely. 

Love & Light.

* My Amazon links are through my Amazon Affiliate membership, so I earn a small fee (at zero additional cost to you) if you purchase through my link, which helps my blog out. 

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